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Maryland Negligence Laws

Let's say you were the passenger in a car that tried to beat a red light through an intersection. A driver turning left across your lane tried the same thing and collided with the car you were riding in. Who is at fault for your injuries, and do you have a legal claim based on negligence? How do negligence cases work, and what laws does the Old Line State have regarding who is responsible for your injuries?

This is a brief summary of negligence laws in Maryland.

General Negligence Law

Negligence, as a legal matter, tries to determine whether a person has a duty of care to another and whether they failed in fulfilling that duty. If so, they may be liable for any resulting injuries reasonably related to that person's negligence. Taking the above example, if Connie is driving you to work and she collides with Paul's car turning left, she might be held liable for negligence. In Maryland, Paul may also be liable under a doctrine known as “contributory negligence."

Therefore you could file a negligence claim against both Paul and Connie jointly, or one or the other separately. The concept of contributory negligence in Maryland, however, would bar the plaintiff's recovery in a negligence claim if the plaintiff was also negligent and contributed towards the plaintiff's damages. Even if the plaintiff was found to be only 1% at fault for their injuries, under Maryland's contributory negligence the plaintiff would be barred from recovery entirely. There are statutory exemptions to contributory negligence. For instance, if you weren't wearing your seatbelt in the above example, that wouldn't count as contributory negligence under Maryland's traffic statutes.

Negligence Laws in Maryland

State negligence laws can vary depending on their particular civil justice system. Negligence laws in Maryland are highlighted in the chart below.

Code Section


Comparative Negligence


Contributory Negligence — Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery

Not using a seatbelt is not contributory negligence or evidence of negligence (Transp. §§22-412.3 & 4)

Contribution Among Tortfeasors


Uniform Act


Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Negligence Cases

In order to have a successful claim, there are several elements of a negligence case you must prove in court:

  • Duty: the other party owed you a duty of care;
  • Breach of Duty: the other party failed to meet that duty;
  • Cause in Fact: but for the other party's failure, you would not have been injured;
  • Proximate Cause: the other party's failure (and not something else) caused your injury; and
  • Damages: you have actually been injured and suffered some loss.

Get Legal Help with a Negligence Case

Understanding the ins and outs of negligence law can be tricky. If you would like legal assistance with a negligence matter, you can contact an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney. You can also visit FindLaw's section on Negligence for more articles and resources on this topic.

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