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What happens if you hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk?

Pedestrian Accidents
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Maryland Pedestrian Accident Law

A recent fatal accident in Prince George’s County occurred when a man was crossing the street in a crosswalk and was struck by several vehicles. This tragedy is a reminder of why the rules of the road are so important. By following these rules, accidents like this one can be prevented.

Understanding Liability in Pedestrian Accidents 

The law is crucial in determining the liable party for injury-related losses in pedestrian accidents. Violations like speeding or other failures to adhere to traffic rules can help determine the liable party in a collision.

What Happens If You Hit a Pedestrian In a Crosswalk?

For example, a driver who failed to stop at the crosswalk where a pedestrian has a right of way should be liable for injury-related losses. Similarly, a driver who was under the influence of alcohol and convicted of this criminal offense can also be civilly liable for a pedestrian’s injuries if they caused a drunk driving accident. 

Maryland Is a Contributory Negligence State

Maryland, along with Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, and Washington D.C., uses the contributory negligence rule. Most states follow a comparative negligence rule, which allows an injured party to recover something even if they were partially to blame. Maryland, however, has an all-or-nothing law regarding the fault of the victim. 

Under Maryland law, a person found to be contributory negligent may not recover anything for their injuries regardless of how minor their contribution to the accident might have been. Because of this law, insurance companies usually try to blame a pedestrian for something related to the collision to avoid liability. A pedestrian accident lawyer is necessary to challenge wrongful accusations of blame and ensure you can recover for your losses. 


  1. Pedestrian Accidents Generally

    Typically, when we think of a car accident, we think of a collision involving two vehicles. However, motor vehicle accidents often involve a pedestrian, and when they do, it can result in serious personal injury. The Maryland State Highway Administration reports that pedestrian deaths account for 20% of all fatalities in Maryland. Most of these accidents occurred in the dark, and 75% of the pedestrians killed were men.

    While statistics can give a sense of what’s going on here, it’s important to remember that real people are injured and killed in these accidents and that they are preventable if the rules of the road are followed by all.

    In about 70% of these pedestrian accidents, it is the pedestrian that is found at fault, according to police reports. Often, this is because the pedestrian was crossing outside a crosswalk or otherwise began to enter a crosswalk when a crosswalk sign indicated “do not cross.”

  1. Definition of Crosswalk in Maryland

1. Under Maryland law, a crosswalk is defined as part of a roadway that is:

1) Within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of sidewalks at any place where two or more roadways of any type meet or join, measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway; or

2) Distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings.

  1. In Maryland, Pedestrian Must Prove Striking Vehicle Operator Was Negligent

In Maryland, a pedestrian may be able to recover damages if they have been injured in an accident with an automobile. They will need to prove that the driver of the vehicle was not driving in a reasonable manner.

For example, if the driver was speeding, texting, talking on the phone, eating, or otherwise not paying attention, the driver may have been negligent. The driver would then be responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries, including medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

  1. The Defense of Contributory Negligence

Ever heard the phrase, “The pedestrian always has the right of way?” Well, this statement isn’t entirely true. Pedestrians have rights and responsibilities just as motor vehicle drivers do. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of exactly what those responsibilities are.

Generally, Maryland cases hold that a pedestrian crossing a street between crossings is guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law if they fail to look for vehicular traffic or if having looked, they fail to see an approaching vehicle.

See, for example, Billmeyer v. State, Use of Whiteman, 192 Md. 419, 64 A.2d 755 (1949), where it was held that when a pedestrian walks from a place of safety and keeps on walking across a town street without observing an approaching vehicle, they are guilty of negligence as a matter of law.

This case shows us that pedestrians cannot simply leave a place of safety and enter into a place of danger without looking for approaching traffic. Further, even where pedestrians look, they may still be found negligent if they failed to see approaching vehicles under certain circumstances. This is especially true if they’re crossing outside of designated crossing areas.

The best example of this rule was touched on in United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company v. Royer, 230 Md. 50, 185 A.2d 341 (1962). In this case, the court indicated that while a pedestrian crossing outside of a crosswalk is not negligent per se, they may still be found negligent if they fail to use “great care” to protect themselves from injury, and “it is generally no excuse if he or she fails to see or hear approaching traffic,” 230 Md. at 54, 185 A.2d 34.

What A Pedestrian Should Do When Hit By A Motor Vehicle

If a pedestrian was hit while crossing the street but not crossing at a crosswalk or not crossing at the designated time, the driver who struck the pedestrian may argue the defense of contributory negligence. Generally, a pedestrian may be contributorily negligent under Maryland law if they contributed to their own injury by being negligent.

Whether a pedestrian was negligent is not always clear. If you were injured as a pedestrian while crossing the street legally, it will be the job of your attorney to help you prove that the other driver was solely at fault and that you did nothing to contribute to causing the accident.

When crossing a street, the pedestrian should always go to the nearest crosswalk, and if there is a pedestrian signal, wait for the signal to activate the “walk” sign. If there is no crosswalk, then the pedestrian should go to the nearest intersection and cross, when safe, at the intersection as the law says that there is an “implied” crosswalk located there. If struck by a vehicle, what we often find is that the pedestrian will leave the crosswalk and move over to the curb for safety purposes.

While this may be prudent, usually, when the police arrive, they assume that the pedestrian was outside of the crosswalk when struck. So if it is safe to do so, the pedestrian should not move from the point of impact. More importantly, if there are any witnesses in the area, the pedestrian should try to get the name and number of the witness if at all possible.

The pedestrian should also make sure, if they have a cell phone, to call the police if they’re able to ensure that a police report is written. Again, the most important thing after being struck is that the pedestrian should stay where they are and contact the police immediately if they are able.

In addition, an ambulance will typically be called by the police to assure that the pedestrian who was struck receives prompt medical care, and the pedestrian should agree to go to the hospital if they are in pain and believe they need medical assistance.

When Is a Pedestrian At Fault for an Accident?

It is easy to assume that drivers are always at fault for a car collision involving a pedestrian. 

However, a pedestrian might be negligent in a car accident when:

  • They do not follow traffic signals
  • Crosses a road in undesignated areas without crosswalks
  • Rushes in front of a car without giving the driver enough time to stop
  • Pedestrians could also cause accidents by forcing drivers into unsafe maneuvers to avoid hitting them
  • Failing to check oncoming traffic when crossing the road
  • Crossing a street while intoxicated
  • Walking on the road instead of using road shoulders or sidewalks
  • Walking at night on the road or during inclement weather like rain without visible clothing

Pedestrians whose negligent actions cause an accident must cover their own injury-related losses, including the losses and damages suffered by other parties.

Compensation For A Pedestrian Accident

If you sustained an injury in a pedestrian accident, an accident attorney can provide legal support and help you pursue the following damages, as they apply to your case.

Medical Expenses

A pedestrian accident often results in serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment.  Maryland’s personal injury law allows injured victims to obtain damages to cover medical treatment costs such as hospitalization, medication, diagnostic tests, and emergency room costs.

Lost Wages

If the injury resulting from a pedestrian accident causes you to miss work, you deserve compensation for the lost wages. In other instances, you may be able to work but at a reduced capacity, leading to compensation for reduced income.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

You might incur other expenses related to the injury, which you can recover as part of economic damages. 

Examples of out-of-pocket expenses include:

  • Home healthcare or long-term nursing care
  • Transportation charges to and from medical appointments
  • Personal care, including assistance with daily chores such as bathing and dressing
  • Modification of your home or car because of permanent disability
  • Assistance with child care or household chores

Pain and Suffering

You deserve compensation if you sustain an injury with devastating physical and mental pain. Whether it is a broken bone or a brain injury, you may experience serious discomfort for weeks, months, years, or the rest of your life after the injury.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Some injuries trigger emotional distress that causes you to no longer enjoy life as much or prevents you from participating in pleasurable activities. 

Suppose a broken arm sustained in a car accident prevents you from participating in a favorite hobby or sport. In that case, you deserve compensation for the resulting loss of enjoyment of life associated with the injury.

Permanent Impairment

Specific injuries can cause permanent impairment, disability, or disfigurement that permanently changes your life. You, therefore, deserve compensation for the physical and mental impact associated with permanent impairment or disability.

A pedestrian accident lawyer can assist you in calculating your damages and seeking compensation for everything you deserve in your injury claim. 

Call A Pedestrian Accident Lawyer At Bob Katz Law

At Bob Katz Law, our team of experienced and dedicated pedestrian accident attorneys will work tirelessly to defend your rights and help secure the compensation you deserve. Call Bob Katz Law at 410-576-4287 for a case evaluation and find out what your case is really worth.

Our Results
4.2 Million Dollar Settlement For Family Of Victim Who Died In A Train Crash In Baltimore Maryland.
4 Million Dollar Settlement For Family Of Victim Killed In Maryland Motor Vehicle Accident (Wrongful Death).
$1,250.000.00 Settlement For A Motorcyclist Who Was Wrongfully Killed In A Maryland Motorcycle Accident.
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