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, As Attorney Eric T. Kirk will tell you.
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.