Is the Driver Always at Fault if a Car Hits a Pedestrian?
Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Nov 12, 2021 in Car Accidents
When a collision happens between a vehicle and a pedestrian, it is usually due to driver error, negligence or recklessness. Drivers owe a duty of care to pedestrians to take reasonable steps to avoid causing them harm. This duty applies even if a pedestrian walks across the street without looking or when there is no designated crosswalk.
That said, drivers are not always to blame, or at least not fully to blame. There are times when pedestrians can share some or all the fault if they get hit by a car. For instance, if a pedestrian jaywalks across a busy street while glued to his or her cellphone, a driver may be unable to stop in time to avoid hitting him or her.
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Can Pedestrians Be Liable for a Crash with a Vehicle?
Maryland has many traffic laws for drivers and pedestrians to help ensure their safety and the safety of others. For example, Maryland traffic laws define when and how pedestrians may legally cross traffic intersections or at designated crossing areas. If a pedestrian ignores these laws and is hit by a car in the process, he or she may be at least partly to blame.
Pedestrians may be determined to be negligent for a crash with a vehicle if it happened because they:
- Darted suddenly into the road without checking for traffic - even if at a crosswalk
- Were distracted by their cellphone or something else while crossing the street
- Entered a crossing area even though traffic signals were not indicating it was safe to cross
- Walking in the road instead of using the shoulder, sidewalk or other pedestrian path
- Attempting to cross a roadway while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Entering a street at any time without first checking for oncoming traffic
- Misjudging the speed of oncoming traffic, which is a risk when intoxicated or tired
- Walking in low light, such as at dawn or dusk, or during bad weather, without gear to make you more visible
In short, drivers are not alone in owing a duty of care and pedestrians need to remain alert when walking in or around traffic.
Maryland's Contributory Negligence Rule
It is important to remember that Maryland, unlike some states, does not allow injury victims to seek compensation if they are partially liable for a crash. Maryland follows a pure contributory negligence rule, which means an injured victim can share no fault for an incident that caused them harm. This rule applies whether you are a driver, cyclist or even a pedestrian.
Any pedestrian negligence, even one percent, that leads to a crash, will result in that injured person being barred from recovering compensation for his or her losses.
Avoiding a Pedestrian vs MVA Crash
Both drivers and pedestrians owe a duty of care on Maryland roads. If one or both parties neglect their responsibility to reasonably avoid doing things that could cause harm to others, it could lead to a serious crash.
Driver’s Duty of Care
Drivers have a responsibility to avoid causing harm to pedestrians, taking reasonable steps to ensure the safe operation of their vehicle. This duty includes:
- Understanding and following traffic laws
- Not engaging in distracted driving behavior, such as texting
- Operating at a safe speed as indicated by the posted limits
- Keeping a constant watch for pedestrians on the road
- Yielding to pedestrians in the road, even if you have the right-of-way
- Not driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Properly servicing and maintaining their vehicle
Pedestrian’s Duty of Care
Pedestrians must also learn about the state’s traffic laws and follow them. When out walking, it is never a good idea to “zone out” and solely rely on others to keep you safe.
Although not a conclusive list, here are some recommended steps pedestrians can take to avoid being hit by a car:
- Always check for oncoming traffic before crossing any street - even if you have the right of way
- Be mindful that drivers and others may not always be able to see you
- Wear clothing that increases your visibility - such as reflective gear at night
- Do not walk while distracted – such as texting a message while crossing the street
- Do not walk while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Remember some drivers neglect to put their headlights on and double-check before crossing
- Do not walk in roadways and avoid shoulders when possible, sticking instead to sidewalks and pedestrian paths
Looking for an Experienced Attorney After a Car Crash? Our Firm is Here to Help
If despite your best efforts, you are injured by another’s negligence as a pedestrian, calling a lawyer right away can help to protect your interests.
When you seek legal assistance from Goldberg Finnegan, you also gain the benefit of experience and proven results.
Our knowledgeable Silver Spring traffic accident lawyers have been helping injured victims in Maryland for decades and have recovered more than $130 million for our clients. Find out if you have a valid claim for compensation after being injured in a crash.
Initial consultations are completely free and carry no legal obligation to hire our firm. If eligible and we represent you, there are also no upfront costs to pay. We only collect our payment if we win your case. Call to learn more and schedule your free case review today.
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