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What is contributory negligence?

On Behalf of | Oct 20, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

The states have different laws to deal with negligence claims. Negligence claims might come from a motor vehicle accident injury or a premises liability claim, like those involving slip-and-fall accidents. They can also involve other issues, such as injuries from defective products.

However, different states handle negligence differently. In Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia we have a negligence principle called contributory negligence.

What does that mean, and how does it impact your potential claim?

What does contributory negligence mean?

Only four states and Washington, D.C., use the principle of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence refers to the notion that plaintiffs can be blocked from collecting damages as the result of another’s negligence if their own negligence contributed to the accident.

This effectively allows negligent people to get away with their negligence if they can find even a modicum of negligence on the part of their victim.


So, what might this principle look like, hypothetically?

If one driver in a motor vehicle accident is FaceTiming while driving, and the other driver is texting at the moment of the crash, it could be argued that both drivers contributed to the fault of the accident.

Courts in most states try to parse out the blame in percentages. But even 1% fault in our area can mean an injured plaintiff may be unable to recover compensation.

What does that mean if I am injured in D.C., Maryland or Virginia?

What if you did not have any part in the cause of your accident or injuries? A local attorney who understands the complex nature of contributory negligence and injury claims can discuss your unique circumstances.

They can assess if you have a possible claim. If you are driving responsibly, or just walking and encounter an injury due to another’s negligence, let an attorney handle the legal process, while you have time to recuperate and move forward.