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Contributory Negligence

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By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | July 9, 2013
The Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld Maryland's long-standing but unusual way of handling negligence cases, which bars plaintiffs who are found to be even 1 percent at fault from winning payouts. Judge John C. Eldridge, writing for the 5-2 majority, said the question whether to change to another model is one for the state legislature. Another model would likely require juries to assign blame and portion out damages accordingly — something Maryland jurors don't do now. "For this Court to change the common law … in the face of the General Assembly's repeated refusal to do so, would be totally inconsistent with the Court's long-standing jurisprudence," Eldridge wrote.
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NEWS
July 14, 2014
While visiting our home state of Maryland in June, my husband and I were headed across the plaza near the USS Constellation in the Inner Harbor and had just checked the water taxi schedule. In a split second, I was on the ground with extreme pain radiating from my left foot and my right shoulder. One of the Inner Harbor "ambassadors" arrived to see what the issue was. At this point, I was unable to speak and my still stunned husband told him that I had fallen. As the ambassador began writing up the incident report he said, "People fall here all the time.
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NEWS
By Kathy Snyder | October 15, 2012
The personal injury lawyers' bar likes to try to divide the personal injury systems of the 50 United States into two different buckets — contributory negligence and comparative fault — and then make up hypothetical cases to try to portray Maryland's contributory negligence rule as unfair or antiquated. The fact is that in the 50 states, there are 50 different liability systems. The common-sense rule in Maryland is the contributory negligence rule: that if a person contributes to his or her injury, he or she cannot recover damages for that injury.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | July 9, 2013
The Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld Maryland's long-standing but unusual way of handling negligence cases, which bars plaintiffs who are found to be even 1 percent at fault from winning payouts. Judge John C. Eldridge, writing for the 5-2 majority, said the question whether to change to another model is one for the state legislature. Another model would likely require juries to assign blame and portion out damages accordingly — something Maryland jurors don't do now. "For this Court to change the common law … in the face of the General Assembly's repeated refusal to do so, would be totally inconsistent with the Court's long-standing jurisprudence," Eldridge wrote.
NEWS
September 20, 2012
If anyone in Baltimore City or Prince George's County needs medical care, they'd better hope that contributory negligence stands ("Soccer field accident could remake 150 years of Md. injury law," Sept. 18). Baltimore has the nation's worst physician pay, and liability costs in these venues are twice that of the rest of Maryland. Without contributory negligence, a patient could hit himself in the head with a hammer in the waiting room and sue the doctor for head injury. Injury lawyers don't care in the slightest about access to medical care, they want all of us to pay for their ever bigger yachts with higher liability costs.
NEWS
By Donald G. Gifford | September 24, 2012
In the coming months, the Maryland Court of Appeals will decide if the state should move to a different system for deciding whether many accident victims - who would not have been injured without the negligence of others - can recover at least partial compensation. Currently, juries in Maryland are not allowed to award these victims even reduced damages from businesses or insured automobile drivers when both the victim and another party are at fault. Even if the injuring party's degree of fault is more egregious than that of the victim, the victim still cannot recover.
BUSINESS
By Michael Dresser and Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF | February 15, 2001
Maryland trial lawyers - perennial losers in their efforts to make the state's courts more plaintiff-friendly - are optimistic that this could be their year for a breakthrough in the General Assembly. For the first time in many years, their pet bill changing Maryland's pro-defendant tilt in personal injury cases has a good chance of coming to a vote in the full Senate. Its prospects are more shaky in the House of Delegates, but even there a feud between Republican lawmakers and the state Chamber of Commerce is raising doubts whether the coalition that defeated past bills will hold together.
BUSINESS
By Michael Dresser and Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF | March 20, 2001
A bill that would have made it easier for plaintiffs to collect damages in personal injury cases died in a Maryland Senate committee yesterday - the victim of an outpouring of calls from small businesses and the influence of Peter G. Angelos. The official vote in the Judicial Proceedings Committee was 9-2 against a switch to the legal standard known as comparative negligence - under which a jury could weigh how much a defendant and a plaintiff contributed to an accident and set damages accordingly.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | September 18, 2012
The collapse of a soccer goal on a Howard County practice field has led the state's highest court to reconsider more than 150 years of personal injury law, in a case that could significantly improve injured plaintiffs' chances of winning payouts. The case - which began when a crossbar crashed into then-20-year-old Kyle Coleman's face, crushing the bones around his eye - has drawn national attention, as Maryland's unusual legal standard meets its first judicial test in decades. Maryland is one of only four states, plus the District of Columbia, that bar injured people from winning lawsuits if they had any role in an accident - even if a jury finds the defendant in their suit deserved a much greater share of the blame.
NEWS
March 10, 1998
Senate bill would allow more suits against stateUnder Maryland's Constitution, as treasurer and as a member of the state Board of Public Works, my primary duty is to preserve and protect the state's financial well-being.Because Senate Bill 618, by adopting "comparative fault," would hurt the state's fiscal condition by generating more lawsuits against the state, I will join other government and business leaders to ask the General Assembly to reject this bill and to preserve the contributory negligence doctrine.
NEWS
By Kathy Snyder | October 15, 2012
The personal injury lawyers' bar likes to try to divide the personal injury systems of the 50 United States into two different buckets — contributory negligence and comparative fault — and then make up hypothetical cases to try to portray Maryland's contributory negligence rule as unfair or antiquated. The fact is that in the 50 states, there are 50 different liability systems. The common-sense rule in Maryland is the contributory negligence rule: that if a person contributes to his or her injury, he or she cannot recover damages for that injury.
NEWS
By Donald G. Gifford | September 24, 2012
In the coming months, the Maryland Court of Appeals will decide if the state should move to a different system for deciding whether many accident victims - who would not have been injured without the negligence of others - can recover at least partial compensation. Currently, juries in Maryland are not allowed to award these victims even reduced damages from businesses or insured automobile drivers when both the victim and another party are at fault. Even if the injuring party's degree of fault is more egregious than that of the victim, the victim still cannot recover.
NEWS
September 20, 2012
If anyone in Baltimore City or Prince George's County needs medical care, they'd better hope that contributory negligence stands ("Soccer field accident could remake 150 years of Md. injury law," Sept. 18). Baltimore has the nation's worst physician pay, and liability costs in these venues are twice that of the rest of Maryland. Without contributory negligence, a patient could hit himself in the head with a hammer in the waiting room and sue the doctor for head injury. Injury lawyers don't care in the slightest about access to medical care, they want all of us to pay for their ever bigger yachts with higher liability costs.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | September 18, 2012
The collapse of a soccer goal on a Howard County practice field has led the state's highest court to reconsider more than 150 years of personal injury law, in a case that could significantly improve injured plaintiffs' chances of winning payouts. The case - which began when a crossbar crashed into then-20-year-old Kyle Coleman's face, crushing the bones around his eye - has drawn national attention, as Maryland's unusual legal standard meets its first judicial test in decades. Maryland is one of only four states, plus the District of Columbia, that bar injured people from winning lawsuits if they had any role in an accident - even if a jury finds the defendant in their suit deserved a much greater share of the blame.
BUSINESS
By Michael Dresser and Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF | March 20, 2001
A bill that would have made it easier for plaintiffs to collect damages in personal injury cases died in a Maryland Senate committee yesterday - the victim of an outpouring of calls from small businesses and the influence of Peter G. Angelos. The official vote in the Judicial Proceedings Committee was 9-2 against a switch to the legal standard known as comparative negligence - under which a jury could weigh how much a defendant and a plaintiff contributed to an accident and set damages accordingly.
BUSINESS
By Michael Dresser and Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF | February 15, 2001
Maryland trial lawyers - perennial losers in their efforts to make the state's courts more plaintiff-friendly - are optimistic that this could be their year for a breakthrough in the General Assembly. For the first time in many years, their pet bill changing Maryland's pro-defendant tilt in personal injury cases has a good chance of coming to a vote in the full Senate. Its prospects are more shaky in the House of Delegates, but even there a feud between Republican lawmakers and the state Chamber of Commerce is raising doubts whether the coalition that defeated past bills will hold together.
NEWS
July 14, 2014
While visiting our home state of Maryland in June, my husband and I were headed across the plaza near the USS Constellation in the Inner Harbor and had just checked the water taxi schedule. In a split second, I was on the ground with extreme pain radiating from my left foot and my right shoulder. One of the Inner Harbor "ambassadors" arrived to see what the issue was. At this point, I was unable to speak and my still stunned husband told him that I had fallen. As the ambassador began writing up the incident report he said, "People fall here all the time.
NEWS
March 12, 1999
Change in tort law would add to the load of clogged courtsAs highlighted in recent articles in The Sun, Baltimore courts have an overcrowding crisis that led to the dismissals of several serious criminal cases. I commend Gov. Parris N. Glendening and the other public officials who are working to add courtrooms, prosecutors and public offenders.Now is not the time to pass bills that would increase the burden on Baltimore's Circuit Court. But a bill in the House that would adopt "comparative fault," a legal liability system to replace Maryland's "contributory negligence" rule -- which has been in effect for more than 150 years -- would do just that.
NEWS
March 21, 1999
Poor reasons offered for civil law change in Maryland courtsGeorge Russell's argument in his letter to the editor against comparative negligence is flawed for several reasons. ("Change in tort law would add to the load of clogged courts," March 12).First, it is bad policy to weigh the merits of any issue on the basis of whether our system of justice is capable of providing access for redress. Whether comparative fault is preferable to contributory negligence should be debated on the strengths and weaknesses of the two standards.
NEWS
March 12, 1999
Change in tort law would add to the load of clogged courtsAs highlighted in recent articles in The Sun, Baltimore courts have an overcrowding crisis that led to the dismissals of several serious criminal cases. I commend Gov. Parris N. Glendening and the other public officials who are working to add courtrooms, prosecutors and public offenders.Now is not the time to pass bills that would increase the burden on Baltimore's Circuit Court. But a bill in the House that would adopt "comparative fault," a legal liability system to replace Maryland's "contributory negligence" rule -- which has been in effect for more than 150 years -- would do just that.
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