The only medical malpractice cases a personal injury lawyer will probably accept are those that will be successful. Why? The others are too financially risky: personal injury lawyers, unlike many other kinds of lawyers, only get paid if a case is successful. On top of that, personal injury lawyers generally spend a lot of money, out of their firm’s pockets, to work on the case. Spending money on a case that is unsuccessful means the personal injury lawyer loses money. So, it’s important for personal injury attorneys to ensure a potential case has certain elements. One of those elements relates to “liability,” and one question an attorney might ask himself about liability is whether the plaintiff’s negligence was at all the cause of the harm or injuries the plaintiff suffered? This question touches on a concept known as “contributory negligence.” Here, in this blog post, we’ll look at what, in the context of medical malpractice cases, contributory negligence is.
What’s Contributory Negligence?
“Contributory negligence” is negligence on the part of the plaintiff that directly contributes to the plaintiff’s being injured or harmed. The concept of contributory negligence matters, here in Maryland, because our state is one of a half dozen or so jurisdictions where “contributory negligence” is a bar to recovery, a bar to getting justice. However, to bar recovery, the contributory negligence must have significantly contributed to the injury.
A couple of examples of contributory negligence, in the medical malpractice context, might make the concept easier to understand.
A mother and father begin a medical malpractice case against a physician, asserting that the physician’s failure to diagnose the mother’s gestational diabetes caused the stillbirth of their child. The physician, on the other hand, alleges that the mother failed to disclose her family history of diabetes and to follow his medical instructions. Here, the jury might conclude that the mother was contributorily negligent.
Let’s look at another example.
A patient sues a physician asserting that the physician was negligent because he failed to do follow-up pap smears following an abnormal smear. However, the physician alleges that the patient consistently cancelled the follow-up appointments, failing to show up for follow-up testing. In this example, the patient’s conduct directly and significantly contributed to her injury, and the jury might conclude that the patient was contributorily negligent.
If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of a medical professional in Maryland, you may have questions about your legal options. If you have not yet started a lawsuit and are contemplating bringing one, I encourage you to contact me today. I can answer your legal questions and would love to talk with you. You can reach me at 410-513-9978 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.