Last month the Maryland Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case of Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia, et al. in which the plaintiff seeks to overturn Maryland’s longstanding defense of contributory negligence. The contributory negligence standard, the law of Maryland for more than 160 years, encourages personal responsibility by ensuring that persons will not recover damages from another party when they have, through their own actions, contributed to their own injury.
Coleman asks the Court to replace the common law doctrine of contributory negligence with a standard of comparative fault, which would enable a person to recover some damages from another person even though they have, through their own actions, contributed to their own injury. Such a shift would bring about a fundamental and adverse change to our legal liability system in Maryland.
The Maryland Chamber has long opposed shifting to a standard of comparative fault because it would increase lawsuits and liability against businesses and make our state less competitive with neighboring states. Our economic development competitors Virginia, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia all have contributory negligence.
Businesses of all types will have increased exposure to lawsuits under comparative fault, including those with buildings and other premises, fleets of vehicles, infrastructure, and companies providing professional and other services to the public.