September 2009 Archives

Is Speeding Contributory Negligence?

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In theory, speeding can be contributory negligence.  But very rarely.  Let me explain.  

Under Maryland law, speeding can lead to a finding of negligence if it contributes to an auto accident  and it can be "inferred from such testimony as that the brakes were put on too late, or that the car did not stop until it had gone an extraordinary distance after the brakes were applied."  Speed in excess of the maximum legal rate may be prima facie evidence of negligence or of unreasonable and improper driving. 

So what is to stop defendant  from just arguing speed is the cause of the accident?   Maryland law. 

Sure, defendants try to confuse the court introducing into evidence the argument that the Plaintiff was speeding without a legitimate foundation that the plaintiff's speed was a proximate cause of the crash. 

Typically, the defendant's argument that speed was a factor is purely speculation.  This is what kills them.   How does the Defendant know how fast the Plaintiff was going?  Every accident reconstructionist will tell you that a layperson is awful at estimating speed. Moreover, our law is clear that mere conjecture that the accident might have been caused by the alleged speeding is insufficient to send the case to the jury.