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In a Maryland Auto Accident, Is It Negligent to Break the Law?

by | Oct 29, 2013

Any lawsuit in Maryland regarding an auto accident comes down to the question of “negligence”: Did the Defendant fail to act as a reasonable person would? This can mean changing lanes without looking, failing to stop at a stop sign, rear-ending a slowing car, or running a red light, for example.

What constitutes “negligence” for drivers is generally a matter of common sense. However, Maryland also has many laws on the books that dictate how people are supposed to drive on the road. (These are found in Title 21 of the Transportation Article of the Maryland Code.) Violating these laws is a criminal act, and can land a person in traffic court. Breaking the traffic laws also can lead to a finding of liability in a personal injury lawsuit, but does not have to.

Many states outside Maryland adopt the rule of “negligence per se,” which means that if a defendant breaks a law and as a result hurts someone, then the defendant is automatically liable in a personal injury lawsuit. Maryland does not follow this rule, however. If a defendant breaks a traffic law in Maryland, this can be introduced to the jury as evidence that the defendant was negligent, but the jury can decide that for some reason the defendant’s actions did not rise to the level of negligence.

If you have been hurt in an auto accident by another driver, and you have questions about whether the driver’s actions rise to the level of negligence, you should contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.

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