You shouldn’t have to pay for an injury that was caused by another person’s negligence
Maryland Transportation Law (TR §21-503(a), Failure to yield right-of-way to vehicle) says:
If a pedestrian crosses a roadway at any point other than in a marked crosswalk or in an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, the pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle.
In other words, the pedestrian isn’t always right.
But a motorist does have a duty to responsibly share the road with pedestrians. A pedestrian, by nature, is a vulnerable road user. In a collision between a pedestrian and a motor vehicle, the pedestrian is more likely to be seriously injured than the occupant of a car.
There are 2 important aspects to a pedestrian injury if you’re the driver. First, you might receive a traffic violation. Second, the pedestrian can file a lawsuit against you to cover the costs for their medical treatment and other damages.
Pedestrian injury and fatality statistics
Certainly, not every accident results in a pedestrian fatality. The CDC reports that nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2017. About 137,000 people were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal pedestrian crash injuries that same year. (source)
Nearly half of crashes that resulted in a pedestrian fatality involved alcohol — either for the driver or the pedestrian. One-third of pedestrians who died in crashes had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or more, and 17% of pedestrian fatalities involved drivers whose BAC was 0.08% or higher. Some fatal crashes involved both intoxicated drivers and an intoxicated pedestrian.
1 in 5 children who died in traffic crashes in 2017 were pedestrians at the time.
|Laws for pedestrians|
|Failure to obey a traffic signal||You may not enter the roadway if you’re facing a steady red light||Fine: $80-$500|
|Failure to obey pedestrian control signal||You may not begin to cross the street toward a solid “don’t walk” or upright raised hand signal||Fine: $40-$500|
|Failure to yield the right-of-way to a vehicle||You must yield the right-of-way to a vehicle if you’re crossing anywhere other than in a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection||Fine: $40-$500|
|Failure to cross at a signalized intersection||You may only cross in a marked crosswalk between adjacent intersections where there is a traffic control signal||Fine: $40-$500|
|Crossing intersection diagonally||You are only permitted to cross an intersection diagonally if directed by a traffic control device||Fine: $40-$500|
|Pedestrian unlawfully on the roadway||If there’s a sidewalk, you are required to use the sidewalk and aren’t permitted to walk on the road. You may walk on the left shoulder or the left side of the road if there’s no sidewalk||Fine: $40-$500|
|Laws for drivers|
|Failure to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk||You must come to a complete stop when a pedestrian is crossing in a crosswalk on your half of the roadway or is approaching in the crosswalk from an adjacent lane on the other half of the road||Fine: $80-$500
1 point on your license
|Passing a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian||You may not pass a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian, whether in a marked or unmarked crosswalk||Fine: $80-$500
1 point on your license
|Failure to yield the right-of-way when turning on green light or green arrow||If you’re facing a green light, including turning either direction, you must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian lawfully in an adjacent crosswalk||Fine: $90-$500
1 point on your license
|Failure to stop at a clearly marked stop line||If you’re facing a circular red light signal or a red arrow, you must stop before a clearly marked stop line or before entering the crosswalk||Fine: $140-$500
2 points on your license
|Failure to yield to pedestrian before turning on red||You must stop and yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian lawfully within a crosswalk when you’re facing a red light||Fine: $90-$500
1 point on your license
|Failure to exercise due care to avoid hitting a pedestrian||You must exercise due care to avoid hitting any pedestrian, including sounding your horn if necessary to alert them and exercising proper caution if the pedestrian appears confused or incapacitated||Fine: $70-$500
1 point on your license
|Special dangers to pedestrians||You must reduce speed and drive carefully when there’s any special danger related to pedestrians||Fine: $90-$500
1 point on your license
Who’s liable in a Maryland pedestrian accident?
In other words... who pays?
There are a few aspects to a pedestrian accident, particularly when it involves a motor vehicle. There might be traffic violations for the driver, or even criminal charges if the accident involves reckless driving or DUI.
If you’re a pedestrian injured by a driver, it might give you some vindication to know that the driver was charged related to the accident. However, that doesn’t pay your medical bills.
There’s also a civil component to most pedestrian accident injuries — the person-to-person aspect that determines whether and how an individual or insurance company will pay for the injured pedestrian’s expenses. If that can’t be settled, then the answer might be a personal injury lawsuit.
The main concept of personal injury law is that everyone owes a duty in certain situations and that failure to meet your duty is negligence. This duty can change even minute to minute, and here’s why:
You can have a duty to someone you don’t even know.
For example, a driver has a duty to every other road user. A property owner has a duty to anyone who lawfully uses the property. Everyone has a duty to avoid causing harm to another person by action or inaction.
If a person is injured by someone else’s negligence, they’re entitled to recover damages, which are the costs associated with the injury. Damages can be for both actual costs (i.e. the amount of money spent on your recovery such as medical bills and lost wages) and non-economic expenses, as well as potentially punitive damages.
Damages usually cover:
- Medical treatment (current and future)
- Rehabilitation and other therapies
- Pain and suffering and mental anguish
- Scarring, disfigurement, and loss of function of a body part or organ
- Loss of consortium
- Lost wages, present and future (including loss of earning capacity)
In order to claim damages, it’s necessary to determine who was at fault for the accident. Often, it’s the driver, but not always.
This is very important in Maryland because the state follows the pure contributory negligence rule of fault. Therefore, if you had any fault for the accident, you can’t recover any damages from the other party in a lawsuit.
We get it.
Understanding how legal concepts of negligence, liability and fault pertain to your case can be complicated.
To make it easier to comprehend, here’s how it might play out in a hypothetical scenario:
In a situation like this, the court could find that although the accident was primarily the driver’s fault, the jogger also had some responsibility because if they had not been wearing earbuds and looking at their phone, they would have seen that the driver was about to make a right turn.
In some states, the jogger could still recover damages as long as they are less than 50% (or 51% in some states) liable. But in Maryland, a plaintiff who bears any liability for the accident can’t recover damages.
Can insurance pay for a pedestrian accident?
Not every injury goes straight to a lawsuit. In fact, most accident cases are settled out of court or during insurance negotiations. A Maryland vehicle owner is required to have auto insurance to cover a minimum of $30,000 per person in an accident. The car owner’s insurance should cover your injuries up to the maximum set by their policy.
If the driver doesn’t have insurance or if their insurance isn’t enough to cover your injuries, your own uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist insurance can also provide compensation for your expenses. Likewise, if you’re injured in a hit-and-run accident and the driver isn’t identified, these policies would cover that situation, too.
Pedestrian injuries from road conditions
Some pedestrians suffer injuries without being hit by a car. If you were injured because of a pothole, poorly designed traffic patterns, poorly placed turn signals or traffic signs, faulty and non-functioning traffic signals, traffic signals hidden by trees or other obstructions, or poor street lighting, you might have a premises liability claim.
If you were injured on private property, you would make a claim against the property owner. If you were injured on a public street or property, it might be more complicated because a claim against a government entity is different from a claim against a private person or company.
Maryland pedestrian accident statutes of limitations
You have 3 years from the date of an injury to file a lawsuit for a Maryland personal injury.
If you’re suing a government employee acting in their official capacity, or any state government agency (which is usually the entity that maintains roads and highways), you must first deliver a claim letter to the Maryland State Treasurer that states why you believe the state is responsible for your injuries. This letter must be sent and postmarked within 1 year of your injury.
If your lawsuit is against a local government, your claim letter would need to go to the local government, itself. If your claim involves a government agency, a lawyer can best advise you on where and how to make a claim.
10 safety tips for pedestrians
- Always cross at a corner or intersection and use a marked crosswalk where available.
- Yield the right-of-way to a vehicle if crossing where there’s not a marked crosswalk.
- Before crossing, look left, then right, then left again to check for cars.
- Walk facing traffic.
- Obey traffic signals and walk signs.
- Be alert — don’t text or be occupied on your phone while walking.
- If you’re wearing a listening device, either keep one ear “free” or the volume low enough that you can still hear outside noise like traffic.
- Wear reflective clothing when walking at night and carry a flashlight.
- Avoid walking while intoxicated; impairment can increase your risk of being hit by a car.
- Walk on the sidewalk or designated walking area where one is available. If there isn’t a sidewalk, stay as far to the left as possible.
What to do if you’re injured in a pedestrian accident in Maryland
- Attend to your physical condition. Call 911 for medical help. If you’re unable to do so, ask a driver or bystander to call for you.It’s important to get a medical examination as soon as possible, even if you think your injuries are so minor that you don’t require treatment. Visit your doctor, an urgent care center or a hospital. Symptoms of some injuries might not appear for days or weeks after the accident, so documenting your condition immediately after the accident is crucial for an insurance settlement or legal claim.
- Call the police. A police report is essential and should contain the driver’s information, the facts of the accident, a description of the scene, and other information that will be important to your claim.
It doesn’t necessarily mean the person will face any charges, especially if they weren’t violating any traffic laws. But don’t let them convince you that a police report isn’t necessary. It’s your right (and for your protection) to get one.
- Obtain witness contact information. Witnesses can be the most valuable tool in a legal claim. Write down each witness’s name, phone number, and email address.
- Document the scene. If you’re able to do so, take photos of the road conditions, traffic signals, any damage to the vehicle, and other factors that might have affected the accident.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer has access to reconstruction experts, financial professionals, medical experts, and other experts who can bolster your claim for relief.
An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer is your best resource for receiving payment for your expenses and costs related to a pedestrian accident injury. The Enjuris personal injury lawyer directory provides contact information for you to find a lawyer who is skilled, experienced, and compassionate and who will help you receive the compensation you need.