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When Does an Accident Become Negligence?

When Does an Accident Become Negligence?

The odds are good that at some point you’re going to be involved in an auto accident. The question then becomes whether you were at fault. Is the other driver? Were either of you being negligent or was this just an accident? To determine this we have to look at when an accident is just an accident, and when it’s negligence.

Auto Accidents

Accidents do happen. We like to think that there’s always somebody at fault, but they do happen. Debris gets kicked up, things fall from trees, animals run into traffic, and third parties not directly in the accident are actually the cause of it, leaving the two vehicles and drivers that have damage with neither having done anything to cause the collision by their own negligence or inaction. In these no-fault cases, the important thing is to exchange insurance information, but also to consult with an auto accident attorney. While neither party is at fault, the insurance companies may not agree and having legal counsel can help when dealing with them.


The shift from an accident to negligence occurs when “...somebody does not exercise the care a reasonably careful person would use under the circumstance.” What does that mean in English? It means you were following too closely, were texting, ran the red light, all while changing lanes without signaling. In short, it means that you were behaving in a manner that wasn’t in line with how the vehicle should be operated and it led to the collision. It means you were at fault. Now depending on the state you live in, both parties can be at fault (Maryland, for example, uses contributory negligence where both parties can carry a portion of the blame), but the shift from an accident to negligence is predicated on at least one person acting in a manner that is outside the norms and caused the collision. In the cases of negligence you definitely need to consult with a personal injury attorney, especially in states with contributory negligence. This allows you to protect yourself and to reclaim lost monies caused by another's actions before the insurance companies get involved.

Accident v Negligence

Whether you’re sure what type of collision you’ve had or not, consulting with an auto accident attorney is a good way to know whether one of the parties involved was at fault, and to learn whether you’re in a state where both parties can be considered at fault. An attorney will help you assess the situation and make sure your rights are protected so that the insurance companies don’t take advantage. If you need a Maryland auto accident lawyer, the attorneys of Chapman & Bowling have years of experience in auto accident and personal injury law, including Maryland’s contributory negligence laws. Contact us today to find out what type of collision you’ve been involved in and what we can do to help you through it.

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