When a pedestrian is hit by a car, it is often a traumatic and even tragic experience. In 2019, 92% of pedestrian-related car accidents in Maryland resulted in injury or death.
Unfortunately, motor vehicle collisions involving pedestrians continue to be a serious problem. On average annually, over 3,000 Maryland drivers are involved in accidents where a pedestrian is hit by a car.
While people assume the car that hit the pedestrian is the one at fault, this is not always true. This assumption comes from the saying that pedestrians always have the right of way — but they don’t.
Just as drivers must obey certain traffic laws, so too must pedestrians. This means that there are situations where the driver is not necessarily at fault, and the pedestrian instead could be the one to blame.
If you or a loved one are ever involved in a pedestrian car accident in Maryland, our team at Zirkin & Schmerling Law can help. We understand how devastating pedestrian accidents can be and are dedicated to ensuring our clients’ cases are handled fairly so they can get the full and fair settlement they deserve.
When Is a Pedestrian at Fault for a Car Accident?
So, when a pedestrian is hit by a car, when is it their fault?
A pedestrian can be held liable for an accident where they themselves were hit when they disregard traffic laws.
Maryland fault laws are based on something called “duty of care,” which means that if a person breaches their duty of care by acting negligently, they can be held liable for the accident or injuries that occurred as a result of their negligence. And this duty of care applies to both drivers AND pedestrians.
Pedestrians do NOT always have the right of way. They have laws they must follow the same as drivers. So, if they disobey those laws, they will be viewed as having breached their duty of care, and will thus be the ones at fault for the accident.
Maryland pedestrian laws are as follows:
- Pedestrians must always obey red traffic signals. If the light is red, they must not enter the crosswalk or roadway.
- Pedestrians must always obey the crossing signals. If the signal shows the “do not walk” sign, they must stay out of the road.
- If a pedestrian must cross anywhere other than a crosswalk or intersection, they must ALWAYS give the cars on the road the right of way.
- Pedestrians must never cross intersections diagonally unless directed by a traffic signal or police officer to do so.
- Pedestrians should always use a sidewalk if one is available. If no sidewalk is available, they should walk facing traffic on the left shoulder of the road.
So, if a pedestrian was disobeying any of these laws when they were struck by a car, they can be held liable instead of the car that hit them.
Is a Driver at Fault When Hitting a Pedestrian?
If you hit a pedestrian, is it always your fault? No.
When a car hits a pedestrian, who’s at fault will depend on who breached their duty of care by disobeying traffic laws. If the pedestrian was crossing the road unlawfully, they can be the one held accountable for the accident.
Still, as cars are dangerous to pedestrians, drivers must operate their vehicles with care to avoid causing harm. And, of course, drivers have laws to obey where pedestrians are concerned. So, if you disregard those traffic laws, you, as the driver, will be the one at fault.
Maryland’s pedestrian-related laws for drivers include the following:
- Drivers must come to a complete stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
- Drivers may not pass another vehicle that has stopped for a pedestrian.
- Drivers must always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in a crosswalk when making a turn at a green light.
- Drivers must never block the crosswalk.
- Drives must yield to pedestrians when turning on red.
How Maryland Contributory Negligence Laws Affect Pedestrian Accident Claims
In most car accident cases, pedestrians are rarely 100% at fault, but the driver might not be 100% at fault either. This is important to understand because the percentage of fault can affect personal injury claims in Maryland.
If a pedestrian is hit by a car, they would typically file a claim against the driver to recover compensation for their injuries and other damages. According to Maryland’s at-fault laws, this is acceptable as long as the driver is at fault.
However, Maryland is also a contributory negligence state, which means that if a person contributes even just 1% to an accident, they cannot file a claim to recover compensation. So, even if the driver was 98% at fault for the accident, if the pedestrian was 2% at fault, they would not be able to file a claim and would be responsible for covering their own costs for their injuries.
For example, let’s say a driver was speeding and ran a red light when they struck a pedestrian — they will likely be held liable for the accident. However, if that pedestrian was crossing the road when they were not legally allowed to do so, they can also carry some of the blame. In this case, neither party—the driver nor the pedestrian—would be able to file a claim to recover compensation for their damages.
This is why having a lawyer help you file your claim is so important, especially if you are a pedestrian. When a pedestrian is hit by a car, they will likely suffer more severe injuries than the driver of the car will. But if they want to be able to recover compensation for what happened to them, they would need the help of an attorney to prove that the driver was entirely at fault.
Have a Legal Question About a Personal Injury? We Have Answers.
If you are injured as a pedestrian after a car accident in Maryland, the team at Zirkin & Schmerling can help you navigate your claim. Our compassionate team has experience handling a wide variety of Maryland car accident cases, and we are dedicated to ensuring every one of our clients gets the full and fair settlement they deserve.
Contact us or call us at 410-753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our personal injury attorneys today.