What Every Marylander Needs to Know About Auto Crash Liability

If you’ve recently been in a car crash, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible—but not without some key information about auto crash liability laws in Maryland. The first thing you need to know is your deadline for potentially litigating a claim. The statute of limitations in Maryland is three years for both personal injury and property damage lawsuits, which means if  you decide to do so, you must file a suit within three years from the date of the accident. This timeline doesn’t apply to your insurance claim, but you should make the claim right after the incident to get the ball rolling.

Maryland takes a “fault” or “at-fault” approach to auto insurance laws. In situations where multiple parties are at-fault for an accident (as opposed to just one party), most states apply their own version of the “comparative fault” system. A small number of other states, including Maryland, abide by a strict concept called “contributory negligence.” Insurance claim adjusters, as well as judges and juries, will follow this doctrine when making decisions about your case. The contributory negligence system prevents you from recovering damages if you shared any of the fault in your accident.

The court or claim adjuster will usually assign a number or percentage to evaluate fault. To be clear, even the smallest degree of fault can eliminate the possibility of recovery. Let’s say, as a simplified example, you were driving slightly over the speed limit when your car was hit by another driver, who was using his phone at the time. If your case went to trial, a jury might find the other driver was 95% at fault, while you were 5% at fault. Since your actions played a role in the accident, Maryland’s contributory negligence system dictates that you would not be able to recover any damages.

In other words, you must prove the other party was 100% at fault. There is no standard empirical method to calculate fault, so courts and claim adjusters will often use their own discretion to assign a percentage. It’s up to you to convince them you had nothing to do with the accident.

Because the contributory negligence rule is so strict, it’s critical that you build a strong case. This is where a lawyer’s attention to detail will come in handy. An attorney can help you gather evidence, collect witness testimony, negotiate effectively, and make the best possible arguments in your favor. Contact Jack Sturgill at 410-296-6485 to meet an attorney who will argue aggressively for your right to compensation. We would be happy to guide you through the process and answer any questions you have along the way.

Written by Law Office of Jack R. Sturgill

Jack R. Sturgill, the Owner and CEO of Jack’s Law, has practiced civil litigation for over 40 years. As an experienced litigator and real estate, estate planning, and estate administration law attorney in Maryland, he focuses his practice on legal matters pertaining to real estate, land use, eminent domain and condemnation, business and corporate law, estate planning, estate administration, personal injury, and administrative law.