View Full Version : Contributory Negligence

10-02-2005, 15:50:45

My coworker was in an accident where he was hit by a city bus last week, from behind.

Most places I've lived that would result in immediate fault to the bus driver for the sole fact that he failed to stop/hit from behind, but not in Maryland, and 3 other states in the US.

The rest of the story is that my coworker recognized the roads were slushy at the intersection he was pulling up to, and he pulled partly onto the shoulder, so in case he lost control he would not strike the car ahead of him. He slipped a little but came to a complete stop without hittting anything. The bus behind him lost control and hit his car (containing him, his wife, and their two week old child) hard enough to spin the car around and tear off the back bumper and other bits of the rear of the car (~4000 dollars damage), no damage to family.

The police officer gave the ticket to the bus driver and assigned fault to him, but also said my coworker was negligent in pulling off toward the shoulder (never mind that his car would have been sandwiched against the car ahead of him instead of spun around if he'd stayed between the lines). The "negligent" bit means that he somehow shares some fault for the accident (he'd have been hit anyway), and has absolutely no chance of getting the bus insurance to pay his car's damage - so it goes down on his insurance, he pays the deductible, and he has to hope they don't raise his rates as a result. Even 1% fault for the accident means nobody pays for anything but their own damage.

If that's the way it was going to play out why not just call the accident no fault a result of weather conditions?

Anyhow, we're all still alternating between rage and relief.

By the way, if you need a cop and an insurance adjuster in a hurry, get into an accident with a city vehicle.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
10-02-2005, 15:55:27
What do you mean with "he pulled partly onto the shoulder"?

We have a rule that relates damage to negligence, so if it was 1 % his fault, he'd get 99 % of his damages and has to carry 1 % of the bus' damage.

10-02-2005, 15:58:36
Its all or nothing here- even 1% means the 99% party only has to pay for his own vehicle's damage. I don't know how that works in 3+ car accidents, but I would guess its a nightmare.

Partly onto the shoulder - off the main part of the roadway - part of his vehicle on the roadside pavement, outside the lines.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
10-02-2005, 15:59:48
How does that relate to the resulting damage? I can't see any causal link.

10-02-2005, 16:00:22
Clearly it's 100% the fault of the authorities for not clearing the slush

10-02-2005, 16:03:50
There isn't one that we can see either. He was nearly a victim of the same road conditions, but he had no part in the accident.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
10-02-2005, 16:07:30
US tort law has a tendency to ignore causality and guilt, but in this one it looks a bit extreme - if his supposed negligence is in no way related to the damage, as it just happened to coincide with the accident, then it should be irrelevant. Even more so as that 100 % or zero rule attributes inproportionate consequences to every minor negligence.

10-02-2005, 16:19:42
More from a law site:

For example, you are stopped at a stoplight when someone rear-ends you, destroying your car and causing you damages. The insurance company’s lawyer tells the jury that you should have looked in your rearview mirror, seen that this car was coming, and pulled off to the side. You state that you didn’t have time for such a maneuver.

Twelve jurors hear the story and determine it is possible you could have pulled off to the side and avoided this collision. Sure, the defendant is mostly at fault, in fact the defendant is 99.9 percent at fault, but the jury decides that it cannot say that you could not have done something, did not “in any way contribute” to what happened. Therefore you are entitled to no compensation.

They also state this law is a holdover from our time as a British colony, and insurance special interests lobby to keep it on the books. :lol: I knew it was the Brits fault!