Facts About Pedestrian Accidents in Maryland
The overwhelming majority of car accidents involve multiple vehicles, but not all of them. Many involve pedestrians and, for the most part, those incidents result in far more serious injuries. That makes perfect sense. Vehicles are, in part, designed to protect the people inside them. But outside the protection of a car, pedestrians are much more vulnerable.
It is not remotely uncommon to see broken legs, fractures, dislocations and a whole host of more serious injuries arise from pedestrian accidents. In fact, the most recent pedestrian case that we tried in front of a jury included a fractured tibia and a dislocated shoulder.
What follows is a primer on pedestrian accidents in Maryland and some of the arguments/defenses that apply in most cases.
Fault in Pedestrian Accidents
The most fundamental question in pedestrian cases is whether or not the pedestrian was in a crosswalk. That can often be the determining factor in whether or not a claim can be successful. However, it is important to bear in mind that under Maryland law, there are both marked and unmarked crosswalks.
The simple rule is that, under Maryland Code Transportation Article § 21-502, when a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk, they have the right of way and it is the responsibility of the driver of the vehicle to ensure their safety. The pedestrian has the right to assume that the driver will obey the law and yield the right of way to the pedestrian.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case and there are still a high number of crosswalk accidents. Those accidents tend to happen in more urban areas like Baltimore City or Baltimore County where people walk a lot, but it does happen in more rural areas as well.
Pedestrian Accidents Outside of a Marked Crosswalk
Pedestrians Outside Crosswalk
Sadly, a great many accidents occur when pedestrians cross away from both marked and unmarked crosswalks. In those situations, the pedestrian will be in a much worse position from a legal point of view. As soon as you leave the protection of a crosswalk, the burden shifts to the pedestrian and away from the driver. Both are still required to keep a proper lookout and pay attention and observe the rules of the road, but the pedestrian now bears more of the risk and responsibility.
Fortunately, crossing outside of a crosswalk does not guarantee that your case will be lost. First, even though it is a violation of Maryland law to do so, the violation of a statute is only evidence of negligence in Maryland and does not ensure the pedestrian will be deemed at fault. In certain situations, it may be safer and more reasonable for a pedestrian to cross outside a crosswalk.
It is ultimately a factual question that will be resolved at trial, which requires the assistance of an experienced and qualified trial lawyer. In fact, we have had a lot of success representing pedestrians who were struck by vehicles outside a crosswalk and know all the legal arguments and defenses and how to present them in a way to maximize your chances of success at trial.
What is commonly not understood and that there are two types of crosswalks – marked and unmarked. Marked crosswalks as discussed above are crosswalks that are literally marked on the roadway and easily identified Unmarked crosswalks do not have the roadway markings, but are nonetheless points where pedestrians can legally cross and have the same protection afforded by marked crosswalks. The law on unmarked crosswalks is set forth in § 21-503 of the Transportation Article of the Maryland Code.
Essentially, unmarked crosswalks exist at most intersections with connecting sidewalks. Pedestrians can cross at these points as well and as long as they comply with their own responsibilities and obligations to pay due care and attention, they will have a strong argument that the driver was at fault for the accident.
Last Clear Chance Doctrine
The doctrine applies where an accident victim has through his or her own negligence placed themselves at risk of injury, but where the Defendant had a “fresh opportunity” following the plaintiff’s negligence to avoid the accident and fails to do so.
This applies frequently in pedestrian cases where, even if the pedestrian is deemed to be at fault, if it can be proven that the driver of the vehicle witnessed the pedestrian in plenty of time to take evasive action, the driver may be deemed to have had the last clear chance to avoid the collision and could be deemed at fault, even if the Plaintiff was also negligent.
This can be a very valuable legal tool for attorneys in pedestrian cases and another reason it is important to have someone with experience handling these types of cases.
What Does This Mean for Me?
As you can see from all of the above, Maryland law related to pedestrians and crosswalks is complicated and can be confusing. Without the benefit of excellent legal representation, you could find yourself without compensation for your injuries and damages, including your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
So if you’ve been injured as a pedestrian in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, or anywhere in the state of Maryland, call us today at 443-275-6345. We do not collect a fee unless we recover for you, so there is no risk. Call now and let us fight for you!
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