It takes very little contact for a car or truck to inflict massive damage on the human body. The safety of pedestrians affects us all, because unless you are permanently bedridden or incarcerated for life, at some point in your life you will be a pedestrian, sharing streets and roads with vehicles that greatly outweigh you and move at great speed. You trust drivers to obey the laws and to understand that they are responsible in many ways for the safety of every pedestrian, young or old, disabled or not. Pedestrian safety is, accordingly, a high priority for society.
Pedestrians must also exercise basic prudence and care; not every pedestrian accident could have been avoided by the vehicle driver. Every case in which a pedestrian is injured or killed essentially comes down to determining whose behavior caused the accident. Both drivers and pedestrians need to be more cautious in conditions that make it harder to see, to react, and to stop.
Pedestrian accidents, and the injuries and/or deaths that result, are far more common than most people realize. In 2013, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States, an average of one every 2 hours. In Maryland, pedestrian fatalities accounted nearly a quarter of all traffic fatalities in the state in 2013. Police reports on fatal accidents in a previous year (2008) indicated that the pedestrian was at fault in 70 percent` of them. The question, of course, is how much that last statistic is affected by the fact that the pedestrians died and were unable to tell their version of the accident.
Maryland has several laws that specifically address the rules of the road when it comes to pedestrians. These laws impose various obligations on both pedestrians and motorists. One fundamental point is that pedestrians, including people using wheelchairs, are subject to the state’s traffic laws.
Pedestrians are given the right of way in some circumstances, generally crosswalks, but must yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. Pedestrians are always entitled to the right of way if they are impaired as to vision, hearing or mobility.
Drivers, on the other hand, are generally required to look out for pedestrians. Specifically, drivers must:
Every pedestrian accident case is different in many, many ways. The large number of factors that may come into play in determining the cause of a pedestrian accident means that determining who is liable requires sorting through a mountain of relevant facts.
At a general level, these include at least the following:
Visibility, in particular, encompasses many separate things. No list could possibly be complete, but common visibility factors include:
The pedestrian’s age, physical condition, mental status, etc., often come into play in a pedestrian accident. Younger children obviously are less aware and less able to respond to impending danger. The same is often true for pedestrians with developmental disabilities. Older pedestrians may, but certainly do not always, have the same problems. Physical conditions that can affect the pedestrian’s ability to respond include problems with vision, hearing, and mobility, which is why pedestrians with vision, hearing, and mobility impairments are given the right of way under Maryland’s traffic laws.
Alcohol is a major factor in many pedestrian accidents. Either the driver or the pedestrian may be impaired; in the worst case, both are. Of the pedestrians killed in Maryland in 2008, 40 percent were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. Nationally, in 2009, alcohol was a factor in 48 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.
Getting compensation for a pedestrian’s injuries or death can be a very complicated process. If the pedestrian is injured but lives, the case is based on the usual personal injury principles, and recovery depends on establish that the driver was at fault. If the pedestrian dies, the case is based on both “wrongful death” for the damages that the victim’s relatives suffer, and a “survival” action for the damages that the victim and the victim’s estate suffer.
In either case, recovery takes time and experience handling pedestrian accident cases in Maryland. Get the legal help you need by calling the Baltimore injury attorney team at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice. Randolph has the extensive experience, legal knowledge, and record of success that will maximize the odds of your receiving a fair and adequate recovery award, sufficient to compensate you for all of your economic and non-economic damages. There is no fee until you recover. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. 410.288.2900