When you say “car accident,” people usually picture two cars crashing. Obviously, car accidents can involve more than two cars, but they can also involve fewer. Many car accidents involve one car and a bike or pedestrian, with pedestrians often facing more serious injuries because they have no car to protect them from the crash. When they are injured, a lawsuit might be the best way to get compensation.
Pedestrians injured in car accidents can often sue for injuries. In most cases, you would direct your claim against the driver of the car that hit you, but there are some specific situations where the lawsuit might be directed at the driver’s employer – such as in cases involving commercial truckers – or against the local municipality – such as in cases where the sidewalk was patently unsafe.
Call our Baltimore pedestrian accident attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras today at (410) 694-7291 for a free case review.
When Can Pedestrians Sue for Car Accidents in Maryland?
To sue for any car accident, you need to have a driver that was “negligent.” You can, of course, sue if someone hits you intentionally, but those cases are rare, and it is typically easier to prove negligence than it is to prove intent. As such, most pedestrian accident lawsuits will be based on “negligence.” You must be able to prove all four elements of a negligence case to sue for a pedestrian car accident.
The four elements of negligence are that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, that they breached that duty, that the breach of duty caused the accident, and that the accident resulted in damages for the victim. Usually, the duty is the duty to follow a specific traffic law or to drive as a reasonable driver would in the same situation. The breach is a failure to do so – such as a traffic violation. If that was what caused your crash, and you suffered injuries, then the other elements are also met. You can prove what damages and injuries you faced with medical bills and other records, as well as photos of the injuries and testimony about how the injuries affected you.
Our Rockville pedestrian accident lawyers can match the evidence in your case to these legal requirements and analyze whether you meet the necessary elements to be able to sue for your pedestrian accident.
Who Can Pedestrians Sue for Car Accidents in Maryland?
Most pedestrian accident lawsuits are going to be filed against the driver who hit you, but there are other potential parties you can sue as well. We will analyze some of the more common parties to sue and explain how and why these parties are appropriate targets for your injury lawsuit:
The person actually operating the vehicle that hit you is responsible for their own actions behind the wheel. If they violated a traffic law or did something unreasonable that caused your crash, they are a fair target for your lawsuit.
Drivers often hit pedestrians while driving drunk, speeding, running red lights, violating a pedestrian’s right of way in a crosswalk, or driving off the road surface onto sidewalks and shoulders. These and other violations can all put a driver at fault for a pedestrian accident.
Commercial Driver Employers
If the driver who hit you was a commercial driver – such as a truck driver – who was actively working as an employee of their company when the accident happened, then you could be entitled to sue the company they work for. A legal principle called “respondeat superior” allows employers to be held to answer for their employees’ negligence in situations like this.
You could also be entitled to sue them in their own right for issues like negligently hiring a dangerous driver or, as we will discuss in a moment because they owned the vehicle that hit you.
The Vehicle Owner
Most people own their own cars. If they do not or they are driving a company vehicle, then the owner of the vehicle might be on the hook for damages in your pedestrian accident. This is especially true if the crash happened because of maintenance issues or safety issues with the vehicle.
Local Municipalities and Cities
If you were injured because of unsafe conditions for pedestrians to walk, it is possible that the local government could be partially responsible for the accident. This is most common in places where the government has constructed barriers and rails to keep cars and pedestrians separate, but the structures they set up are defective, dangerous, or insufficient to the task. For example, a pedestrian path protected by guardrails should seem like a safe place for pedestrians to walk, but if the guardrails were improperly secured, then they offer little to no protection.
Suing the government usually comes with additional restrictions on your case. First, there is usually a notice requirement, where you must tell the government of your intent to sue well before a lawsuit would actually be due in court. Second, there is usually a damage cap that affects how much you can recover overall.
In most accidents against the government for unsafe conditions like this, the government will not be solely responsible for an accident. Instead, they will share responsibility with the driver who hit you. Usually, the fact that the conditions were unsafe for pedestrians likely will not overcome the driver’s independent negligence, especially if they caused the crash while drunk, speeding, or texting and driving.
Call Our Maryland Pedestrian Accident Lawyers for Help
If you were hurt in a pedestrian accident, call the Silver Spring pedestrian accident lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.