Even if a legal concept provides for an unfortunate outcome, an experienced car accident attorney will be prepared to argue persuasively in your favor. In an April 20, 2018 Maryland car accident case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland considered whether the doctrine of imputed negligence would apply to prevent the injured plaintiff from recovering damages from the defendant. After the lower court entered judgment in favor of the defendant, Maryland’s highest court had the opportunity to decide whether the application of the doctrine should be overruled in the context of owner-passenger car accident cases.
The plaintiff and her husband drove to a restaurant to pick up their carry-out meal. The plaintiff’s husband was driving the vehicle, which was solely registered in the plaintiff’s name. The plaintiff was riding in the passenger seat. The husband parked across two handicapped spots behind the defendant’s truck and went inside the restaurant to get their dinner. As the plaintiff waited in the car, the defendant backed up his truck out of his parking space into her vehicle. The plaintiff suffered injuries to her shoulder as a result of the accident.
Under the doctrine of imputed negligence, the owner of a vehicle who allows someone else to drive while remaining inside as a passenger may be held liable for any negligence of the driver. It is not based on any negligence of the owner-passenger; instead, it is a form of vicarious liability. Since the plaintiff’s husband was found negligent by parking perpendicular to a handicapped space behind the defendant’s vehicle, his negligence was imputed to the plaintiff. The plaintiff was therefore barred from recovering damages under the doctrine of contributory negligence.