Maryland Car Accident Laws

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Personal injury lawsuits that stem from car accidents that happen in Baltimore will be governed by the laws of Maryland. These car accident laws dictate what you will have to show during your lawsuit in order to receive the compensation that you need and deserve to recover after the crash.

Through their constant representation of clients who have been hurt in car crashes in Baltimore and Maryland, the personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian have an intimate understanding of the nuances of these laws and can help you get the financial compensation you deserve.

Maryland’s Personal Injury Laws for Car Crashes

Because nearly all car accidents are the result of someone’s negligence, it is Maryland’s tort laws that apply to car crashes in the state. Tort laws, also known as personal injury laws, determine who was responsible—and therefore liable—for an injury that was caused by an act of negligence.

Maryland’s tort laws come predominantly from the process of common law—the process of courts making decisions in one case that set precedent for future cases—rather than from statutes, which are enacted by the Maryland legislature. However, there are also a small handful of very important statutes that can impact how your car accident case runs, as well.

While there are mounds of car accident laws in Maryland that can get implicated in your case, here are some of the most common.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations determines when you can file a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident, and so it will be a factor in each and every car accident case in the state. In Maryland, the statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits is found at Md. Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 5-101. This statute sets the limitation period for filing a personal injury lawsuit—including one stemming from a car accident—to three years.

If you do not manage to file your lawsuit within those three years, the person you are suing can quickly and easily have your claim dismissed for not complying with the statute of limitations.

Maryland’s Personal Injury Law for Car Crashes

Maryland’s personal injury law puts the burden of proof on accident victims to show that they were hurt and that the person they are claiming was responsible should be held liable for the costs of their injuries. Over the course of years of dealing with personal injury cases the courts in Maryland have decided that, in order to succeed in a personal injury case, accident victims need to prove the following four things:

  1. The person they are suing had a legal responsibility to keep them safe or out of harm’s way,
  2. That person failed to uphold that responsibility,
  3. That failure was the cause of the accident victim’s injuries, and
  4. The extent of the victim’s injuries.

In order to win a personal injury lawsuit in Maryland, victims need to prove all four of these elements: if you fail to show even one of them, then you will lose your lawsuit.

When You Were Partly at Fault: Maryland’s Ancient Contributory Negligence Law

Not all car accidents in Baltimore involve a perfectly innocent driver getting slammed into by another driver who was being overtly negligent. Some car crashes involve two drivers who were both doing something wrong: maybe one driver was speeding down the road, but the other driver did not come to a full and complete rest at a stop sign before turning right.

Such situations are common, and personal injury laws are used to having to apportion responsibility in ways that do not find one person to be entirely at fault. Nearly all of the states in the U.S. use the rule of comparative negligence, which assigns a percentage of fault to each party, and lowers the amount of compensation that a victim can receive based on how responsible they were for the accident.

Maryland, however, is not one of those states. Instead, Maryland uses the incredibly antiquated rule of contributory negligence. Under this rule, if a car accident victim is responsible for the crash at all, they are prohibited from getting any compensation whatsoever. In other words, if your actions contributed to the accident in any way, it can prevent you from getting the compensation that you deserve.

This rule was upheld as recently as 2013, when the Maryland Court of Appeals—the highest court in the state—refused to change it in the case of Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia.

Negligence Per Se and Maryland’s Traffic Code

The traffic code is another critical piece of car accident law in Maryland. Codified in Title 21 of the article on Transportation, the traffic code lays out the rules of the road in the state of Maryland. These rules of the road can be used as proof that the other driver was negligent by showing they were violating one of them. Using traffic codes to prove that another driver was behaving negligently can lead the court to decide they were being negligent per se, which can drastically speed your case up and lead to a favorable outcome.

Maryland’s Wrongful Death Statute

Finally, Maryland’s wrongful death statute comes into play when the car accident proved to be a fatal one. By allowing certain family members of the deceased victim to stand in for their rights in court, Md. Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 3-904 ensures that the victim’s rights are protected and the suffering parties get the compensation they need and deserve.

Baltimore Personal Injury Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian

With an intimate understanding of these laws and others that could impact your car accident case, the personal injury attorneys at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian can fight for your rights and interests and get you the compensation that you need and deserve to make a full recovery. Contact us online to get started on your case and make sure your best arguments are heard in a court of law.

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