October 30, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- A recent lawsuit stemming from the collapse of a soccer goal could change more than 150 years of Maryland personal injury law and give plaintiffs a greater chance of being awarded damages in personal injury lawsuits.
Background of Lawsuit
In 2008, Kyle Coleman was attending late-summer soccer practice at a middle school in Fulton, Maryland. While taking some warm-up shots at an empty goal, Coleman grabbed the goal's crossbar as he was retrieving a ball, causing the unanchored goal to fall. The crossbar crashed into his face and crushed the bones around his eye. As a result of his injuries, Coleman had to undergo several surgeries to place titanium plates in his head.
Coleman filed a lawsuit against the association that was running the practice, claiming that it was responsible for his injures because it negligently failed to properly secure the goal. A jury agreed with Coleman that the association was responsible for his injuries, but did not award any damages because it found that Coleman was at least partially responsible for his accident--a legal principle know as contributory negligence. At the trial, evidence introduced by defense attorneys had suggested that Coleman had used marijuana before the practice.
The Death of Contributory Negligence in Maryland?
Coleman has appealed the decision, so it is now up to the Maryland Court of Appeals whether the legal principle of contributory negligence should continue to govern the recovery of damages in Maryland negligence lawsuits--everything from car accidents to medical malpractice and dangerous products.
Maryland is one of only four states (plus the District of Columbia) that recognizes the legal principle of contributory negligence. It has been the common law--a law made by court decisions rather than legislative acts--in Maryland since it was adopted in an 1847 decision. Under contributory negligence principles, if a jury finds that a plaintiff in a lawsuit is the slightest bit at fault for his or her own injures, he or she cannot recover any amount of damages.
Opponents assert that this law is harsh, outdated and can lead to unjust results. For example, the plaintiff could be only slightly at fault for his or her injuries, but still be barred from recovering from a defendant who is mostly to blame. Proponents of the law say that it should be kept in place because it discourages frivolous lawsuits.
Should the Maryland Court of Appeals agree that contributory negligence principles should no longer apply in negligence cases, it could radically affect the rights of recovery of plaintiffs. Although no alternative system has been proposed, it is likely that, if contributory negligence is abandoned, plaintiffs would no longer be barred from recovering damages if they are only slightly at fault.
If the Maryland Court of Appeals decides to adopt the law followed by most states, it would likely institute a system of recovery called comparative negligence. Under such a system, a plaintiff who is at fault for his or her own injuries would not be barred from recovering damages, but the amount of damages that can be recovered would be reduced by the percentage that the plaintiff is at fault. In addition, in most states that follow comparative fault principles, a plaintiff is barred from recovering any damages if he or she is more than 50 percent at fault for his or her injuries.
As the court's decision is still pending, how it will ultimately affect rights of recovery is purely speculative this point. However, in the meantime, if you or a loved one are injured because of someone else's negligence, it is valuable to seek the advice of a skilled personal injury attorney. An attorney can advise you of your rights and work to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.
Article provided by Alan Hilliard Legum, P.A.
Visit us at http://www.alanlegum.com---
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