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Sunday, November 23 2014 @ 05:40 AM UTC

Action: Emergency Bill Contributory Negligence for defense of wrongful death or injury by at fault drivers

Bike LawsOr let me state the bill more simplistically. At fault drivers "need" a easy defense to get out of paying any damages at all.

Yes you are reading that right, people at fault in a traffic "accident" can get away with murder. And the sponsors of this bill want to see more people get away with murder.


Examples of why we don't like contributory negligence:

A Richmond, Virginia jury awards no damages to a 23 year-old pedestrian who was hit by an F-150 truck while walking on the sidewalk. The jury found the Plaintiff contributory negligent because she was singing while she was walking.
http://www.baltimorespokes.org/article.php?story=20110222101857474

Montgomery County Circuit Court awards no damages to a cyclist who hit a left turning truck that violated the cyclist's right-of-way. The cyclist was contributory negligent because they hit the back part of the truck.
http://www.baltimorespokes.org/article.php?story=20090726190123851


What we do support is comparative negligence which is basically if a damaged party is 1% negligent they lose 1% of the damages. This is vastly more fair and just then losing all damages under contributory negligence and is followed by 90% of the United States in one form or the other.

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House Bill 1129 states (in part):

(B) CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE SHALL REMAIN AN AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE THAT MAY BE RAISED BY A PARTY AGAINST WHOM A CLAIM IS MADE FOR DAMAGES FOR WRONGFUL DEATH, PERSONAL INJURY, OR PROPERTY DAMAGE.
...
http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/bills/hb/hb1129f.pdf

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There is little doubt in my mind that this bill is the result of issues raised in this story: http://www.baltimorespokes.org/article.php?story=2011011613561368

There is a group behind this that is difficult to find out just who they are but with some detective work here http://www.baltimoreinjurylawyerblog.com/2009/03/whats_a_frivolous_lawsuit.html we find a former political lobbyist (representing big corporate interest?), a doctor sued for medical malpractice, the owner of a failed local insurance company, an attorney in Annapolis, an owner of a national chain of camp resorts and a owner of a risk management for business. And they call themselves, get this, Maryland Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. The link in this paragraph has more info on the absurdity of that title and I quote from that article "Personally, I would be suspicious of any group that seems to conceal its leaders and true agenda."

There is also a battle of sorts between the courts and the legislature going on here. Judge Bell wants a study that I will summarize as "What are the best legal practices in awarding damages? And can the court adopt such best practices as a rule?" (Implied without the legislature taking action.) And then there is this statement attributed to Judge Bell (if I am reading it right) "Maryland's contributory negligence rule is a common law rule. Arguably, the legislature's failure to act is not approbation of contributory negligence." So to summarize the sponsors of this bill are afraid that contributory negligence will not be found to be the "best practice" by the study and want to prevent the court from taking any action based on that study. Personally I find that rather damning of the sponsors of the bill.

I am appalled at the number of Delegates that have signed on in support of this and how few have supported House Bill 363 - “Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel – Criminal Negligence. If indeed our legislature is impressed by Citizens Against something and grassroots motivation then we need to send a clear message "We are Maryland citizens and not big corporate interests. We are truly grassroots and our only "profit" is seeing the all Maryland citizens being protected by fair and just laws laws.

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*** Take action ***
And write your Representative to oppose House Bill 1129 - Maryland Contributory Negligence Act , especially if they are one of the sponsors:
Delegates Kramer, Bates, Beitzel, Bromwell, Carter, Costa, Dwyer, George, Jameson, Kach, K. Kelly, Kipke, McConkey, W. Miller, Norman, O'Donnell, Vitale, Weir, and Wood

To find your Representative: http://mdelect.net/electedofficials/

Is it really too much to ask that Maryland follow what the rest of America finds fair and reasonable for at fault drivers to pay for the damages that they cause?

All this bill does is protect at fault drivers from paying damages to people they kill or injure.

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Additional argument:

It has been said that contributory negligence is intended to discourage negligent behavior that causes accidents by denying recovery to those who fail to use proper care for their own safety.

Which is really an unfair summary of how contributory negligence works. But I ask what then is the deterrent to unlawful behavior that is over 51% the causes of the accident in the first place? Seriously, what's more important to discourage, driving your pickup on the sidewalk or singing while walking? And again, what's more important to discourage, trucks failing to yield the right-of-way or cyclists that decide they rather hit the back of the truck over getting run over by the front of the truck?
.
Sponsored by:

Delegate Benjamin F. Kramer, District 19
Delegate Gail H. Bates, District 9A
Delegate Wendell R. Beitzel, District 1A
Delegate Eric M. Bromwell, District 8
Delegate Jill P. Carter, District 41
Delegate Robert A. Costa, District 33B
Delegate Don H. Dwyer, Jr., District 31
Delegate Ron George, District 30
Delegate Sally Jameson, District 28
Delegate Wade Kach, District 5B
Delegate Kevin Kelly, District 1B
Delegate Nicholaus R. Kipke, District 31
Delegate Tony McConkey, District 33A
Delegate Warren E. Miller, District 9A
Delegate H. Wayne Norman, Jr., District 35A
Delegate Anthony J. O'Donnell, District 29C
Delegate Cathy Vitale, District 33A
Delegate Michael H. Weir, Jr., District 6
Delegate John F. Wood, Jr., District 29A

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