Personal injury attorneys often have a tarnished reputation.  Sometimes called “ambulance chasers”, these lawyers are often seen as the bottom feeders of the law pond.  However, personal injury law plays a vital role in the preservation of a victim’s rights.

What is considered a “personal injury” claim?

According to the American Bar Association, every claim, regardless of the circumstances surrounding it, has two basic issues to prove – liability and damages.  If a plaintiff can prove that the defendant was responsible for damages they sustained, the court must then determine what the nature and extent of those damages were.  Once this proof is established, the plaintiff can be compensated for their loss.  This plain and simple definition can be applied to every personal injury claim from car accidents, trucking accidents, or even medical malpractice.

Car Accidents

Anytime a driver gets behind the wheel, they have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their vehicle, their passengers, and the pedestrians and cyclists they may come across.  When they breach that responsibility and an injury results, a personal injury attorney can help the victim recoup their losses. Wrongful death, back and spinal cord injuries, fractures, brain damage or head trauma, or other permanent injuries may permanently injure or disable those who experience another person’s negligence behind the wheel.  It is only through the due diligence of an accomplished personal injury lawyer that a victim’s rights are preserved and compensation is restored.

Trucking Accidents

In a report released in 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported 3,424 fatal crashes involving a large truck or bus in 2014.  These crashes resulted in, on average, 1.14 fatalities per crash.  In total, there were more than 411,000 police-reported crashes involving a large truck during that year.  Laws of physics would dictate that, when coming into contact with a larger, heavier vehicle than your own, there is a greater likelihood of injury to the occupants of the smaller vehicle.  Not only does the liability of the driver come into question, so does the liability of the trucking company, its equipment maintenance crew, and the manufacturer of the vehicle.

However simple the process of proving liability and damages is, it is also complicated by a concept known as “contributory negligence”.

Contributory Negligence

The state of Maryland has a somewhat controversial way of handing personal injury cases called the “Contributory Negligence Law”.  The law states that a person cannot recover damages in a personal injury case if they are found to be partly at fault.   Some states who have contributory negligence laws allow for a proportion of fault to be assigned to the plantiff and that proportion to be assessed in the amount of damages assigned.  For instance, in North Carolina, another contributory negligence state, if a plantiff is awarded $500,000 in damages, but is found to be 20% at fault, their award is reduced to $400,000.  This is not the case in Maryland.  If a plantiff is found to be 1% at fault, their entitlement to an award is forfeited completely.  This is why having a competent personal injury attorney in your corner is essential to the success of your case.  For more information or to discuss your case with an attorney with more than 15 years of experience in personal injury law, contact Brad MacFee.