Articles, Analysis,
and Commentary

What is The "Last Clear Chance" Doctrine?

Under Maryland law, those that contribute to the happening that causes them injury do not have a claim against anyone else that contributes to that same event. This is called contributory negligence, and it is a bar to recovery. This age-old principle can operate to preclude and prohibit a financial recovery, even where the other participant[s] are overwhelmingly more responsible or culpable,  

Solace from the harsh application of contributory negligence principles- and a corresponding recovery for a negligent plaintiff- may sometimes be found in the protective notion of 'last clear chance'.

A plaintiff who caused or contributed to an accident would normally be barred from any recovery from the defendant, unless that defendant had a new opportunity – a last clear chance- and failed to prevent the harm to the plaintiff. The rationale for the rule is that a defendant, who has a fresh opportunity to avoid any car or motor vehicle accident and fails to, is, in fact, the more responsible for the accident [ a concept the law labels 'proximate cause'].  rather than any initial negligence of the plaintiff. 

     -This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 10/22/19. 

Last clear chance cases are typically complex, and incredibly fact-dependent. I have tried more than a few. I'd be happy to discuss my experiences with you in a confidential setting. Contact me. 410 591 2835.