Every day in Maryland, pedestrians who are crossing in a crosswalk, jogging down the street, walking through a parking lot and even walking on the sidewalk are stuck by a cars or trucks. Obviously, a pedestrian does not have the luxury of a seat belt, the steel protection of a car, or even the luxury of a motorcycle helmet.
There are several dangerous areas where pedestrians are at higher risk: near the confusion of a construction site, while crossing the street (especially when there is no crosswalk), while walking alongside a road (and not on a sidewalk).
Some professions, activities, and demographics that are high risk for pedestrian impact injuries include utility workers, landscapers, police officers, garbage collectors, runners, the elderly (because it takes them longer to cross the street, and they are sometimes less able to evade negligent drivers) and children.
Maryland is a particularly dangerous terrain for pedestrians. For such a small state, Maryland is the 7th riskiest state to be a pedestrian.Proving a Maryland Pedestrian Accident Case
Contrary to popular belief, a police report is typically not evidence in a pedestrian accident lawsuit. The report, which may have a police officer's opinion about whether the pedestrian was at fault in the collision, is usually inadmissible in court.
This lack of admissibility of the police report is a good thing in many pedestrian accident cases. Most police officers do not understand the deference Maryland law gives to pedestrians. Most pedestrian accident cases hinge on whether the pedestrian was lawfully where he was at the time of impact.
This is particularly the case if the pedestrian is hit while crossing the street. The defense will be that the pedestrian ambled across against the signal, or crossed outside of a crosswalk.
Important evidence to prove a pedestrian's claim includes:
- statements of any witnesses, particularly witnesses who have no relationship to the pedestrian
- photographs or video (often from red light cameras, traffic cameras, or security cameras from neighboring businesses)
- skid marks (an indication the location of impact)
- cell phone records showing that the negligent driver was talking on a cell phone or texting at the time of the accident
Defense lawyers in Maryland pedestrian accidents often contend that the pedestrian was a jaywalker and is contributorily negligent. In Maryland, a victim who is even 1% negligent is not allowed to recover in a civil lawsuit.
Defense lawyers pull out all of the stops and try to convince a jury that the pedestrian was distracted (using a cell phone or MP3 player) Often, a good, quick investigation after the crash can destroy these defenses.
- Sample deposition of defendant in wrongful death pedestrian accident case
One important question in Maryland pedestrian accidents is whether there is any insurance coverage to pay for the pedestrian's injuries. The simple case is where the negligent driver has insurance - that driver's insurance will be responsible for paying for the walker's injuries. If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, flees the scene and cannot be found (hit-and-run accident), or has low insurance that won't cover the full cost of the pedestrian's injury, then the pedestrian's automobile insurance policy will kick in if it has uninsured/underinsured coverage.
If the pedestrian does not have automobile insurance and does not live in a household with a family member who has uninsured/underinsured coverage, then the pedestrian can recover from the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund's (MAIF) Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment (UCJ) division. MAIF may be responsible for paying up to $30,000 for pedestrian accidents where the negligent driver is uninsured or cannot be located.Miller & Zois Recent Verdicts and Settlements in Pedestrian Accident Cases
Pedestrian accidents are among the most serious motor tort accident cases we have, along with truck accident cases. The makeup 9% of auto tort cases and probably an even larger percentage of Miller & Zois' cases.
Below are Maryland settlements and verdicts in pedestrian accident cases. Many of these are death cases which are not uncommon: 23% of vehicular accident cases are wrongful death claims.
These verdicts and settlement payouts are presented to give you a better idea of the value of pedestrian accident cases. But, we have to be honest about the limitations of this kind of data. There are too many variables to compare one case to another to assume that if the cases are similar, they have a similar value. One case just cannot predict another.
- $1,000,000 Settlement. A woman is pushing her infant son on the sidewalk in Baltimore and is struck by an Allstate insured driving a pickup truck that overshot his U-turn. The mother was killed; the child was untouched. Miller & Zois attorneys handled this case on behalf of the surviving child.
- $663,000 Verdict. A young woman is hit by a car walking across a driveway entrance in Baltimore County. She develops Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). State Farm offers $20,000, basically arguing that the woman was not hurt. A Towson jury strongly disagreed. Miller & Zois handled this case.
- $200,000 Settlement. An elderly man in his mid-80s was parked his car and, while looking to cross, was hit and killed. The driver claimed he was in the middle of the roadway dressed in dark clothes. There were no witnesses to the accident and little physical evidence that accident reconstruction experts on either side could point to as proof of exactly where the man was on the roadway at the time of the accident. Even without any witnesses to show the defendant was negligent, Miller & Zois still secured a $200,000 settlement for a very grateful family and referring lawyer who could not get any settlement offer on the case because the family could not produce any real evidence.
- $135,000 Settlement. Plaintiff, a 76-year-old woman, sustained a severe fracture of the right knee after being struck in a parking lot. She additionally developed health issues - specifically a staph infection - as a result of her hospital stay for the fracture. The Defendant, insured by State Auto Insurance, denied that she made any contact with the Plaintiff. Plaintiff’s expert, however, opined that her injury was consistent with having been struck by the car. The case settled at mediation for $135,000. Miller & Zois handled this case.
- Some pedestrian accident out-of-court settlements and jury verdicts in other jurisdictions in 2014
We provide sample settlements both to victims and fellow plaintiffs lawyers an opportunity to gauge the value of these cases and to demonstrate our experience in handling pedestrian crash claims. But the utility of applying a few example case resolutions to your individual case is, of course, limited. The outcome of one case cannot accurately predict the result of another claim. Every case is going to be valued on a host of different factors that may or may not be included in these brief verdict summaries.Pedestrian Law in Maryland
Maryland’s rules of the road regarding pedestrians are set forth in Subtitle 5 of the Transportation Article in the Maryland Code. These rules, and the case law interpreting them, are the basis for determining fault in pedestrian accident cases.
(A) Pedestrians Defined
The Transportation Article defines “pedestrian” as “an individual afoot.” Md. Code Ann., Trans. § 11-145. There are 2 very simple elements to this definition: “traveling” and “on foot.” A pedestrian is any person: (a) “traveling” on or near a public roadway; and (b) “on foot” as opposed to in some type of “vehicle.” A person sitting stationary on the side of the road is not “traveling” and, therefore, would not be a pedestrian.
A traveler on the highway is also not considered a pedestrian if they are operating any type of “vehicle” as opposed to walking on foot. A “vehicle” is defined very broadly to include any device used for transportation (with or without a motor). Specifically, the term “vehicle” has been held to include bicycles, skateboards, and even sleds. So a teenager riding a skateboard on the side of the road is operating a vehicle and not a “pedestrian.” Wooldrige v. Price, 184 Md. App. 451 (2009).
Pedestrians also include highway construction workers, police officers, first responders, and others who are “afoot” on the highway for work purposes rather than travel. However, the courts have repeatedly held that police officers and road workers may not be subject to the same standard of care as an ordinary pedestrian. These “special status” pedestrians are not expected to exercise the same level of awareness when performing their duties. Braswell v. Burrus, 13 Md. App. 513 (1971).
In a 2019 case, the Court of Special appeals made it clear that a “pedestrian” can be anyone on foot even if they are not on the road but “near” the road. In Postma v. Lopez (Unreported 2019) the COSA held that an individual who was clearing snow on a driveway next to the road was a “pedestrian” under Maryland law.
Individuals riding bicycles on the roadways are not “afoot” so they are not considered “pedestrians.” Bicyclists are subject to the rules of the road that are applicable to vehicles. However, bicyclists are also subject to specific rules and restrictions. Specifically, bicycles are required to stay on the far right side of the road and are not permitted on roads where the speed limit exceeds 50 mph. The rules for bicycles are set forth in Section 21, Title 12 of the Transportation Article.
(B) Pedestrians on Roadways
Pedestrians are always obligated to walk on a sidewalk or walkway on the side of the road whenever one is available. If a sidewalk is not available, pedestrians are supposed to walk on the left-hand side of the road (facing traffic) and as to the side as possible. Failure to follow these rules does not automatically constitute contributory negligence. See, e.g., Whitt v. Dynan, 20 Md. App. 148 (1974) (pedestrian walking on the right side with back to traffic when struck was held not to be contributorily negligent).
(C) Pedestrians Crossing the Road
When pedestrians are crossing a street or roadway, the critical focus under Maryland law is whether the pedestrian is in a crosswalk or not. If a pedestrian is crossing at a crosswalk, they will almost always have the right-of-way and the vehicle will be at-fault. However, when a pedestrian crosses a road outside of a crosswalk, motor vehicles have the right-of-way under Maryland law and the pedestrian will usually be at-fault.
A “crosswalk” under Maryland law can be marked or implied (unmarked). Marked crosswalks are clearly painted onto the street with white crossing lines. An implied or unmarked crosswalk will exist at any intersection of 2 or more roads where there are sidewalks. The key here is the presence of sidewalks. If there are sidewalks on the road there will be an implied crosswalk at all intersections. If no sidewalks exist there is no implied crosswalk. A “sidewalk” can be any walkway on the side of the road intended for pedestrian use whether paved or unpaved.
(ii) Outside of Crosswalks
Under Maryland law, when a pedestrian crosses a road outside of a marked or implied crosswalk, they will almost always be guilty of contributory negligence and barred from recovery. Even if the pedestrian claims that they did not see the vehicle approaching before they cross, the courts will usually reject “reject this testimony as unworthy of consideration.” See, e.g., Smith v. Warbasse, 71 Md. App. 625 (1987). Drivers who hit pedestrians outside of crosswalks will only be liable if they are egregiously negligent or there are special circumstances. For instance, in Cohen v. Rubin, 55 Md. App. 83 (1983) the driver was intoxicated when he hit a 13-year-old after his passenger warned him to watch out.
(iii) Controlled Intersections
Slightly different rules apply to pedestrians crossing the street at a crosswalk when the intersection is a “controlled intersection.” A controlled intersection is one that has a traffic light or crossing signals. When a pedestrian crosses at a crosswalk at a controlled intersection they do not automatically have the right-of-way as they do at crosswalks in other intersections. At a controlled intersection, pedestrians must follow specific crossing and right-of-way rules set forth in §§ 21-202 and 21-203 of the Transportation Article.
(D) Occupants of Disabled Vehicles
Recent case law has established that occupants of vehicles that become disabled or get in an accident will be considered pedestrians if they remain on the road or on the side of the road while inspecting their vehicle. In Wright v. Mohler, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136980 (D. Md. 2020), a teenager who had been drinking disabled his car after running over a curb. He remained on the side of the car partially in the roadway looking at the damage and not looking out for oncoming traffic when he was struck by the defendant. The Court held that the plaintiff was a “pedestrian” under Maryland law and that he was contributorily negligent because as a pedestrian he had a duty to get out of the road and keep an eye out for oncoming traffic.Pedestrian Accident Statistics
- 1998: 70,000 pedestrian crashes in the United States (1.1% of all police-reported crashes) (NHTSA)
- 1998: 5,294 fatal pedestrian crashes in the United States (NHTSA)
- 1998: children aged 5 to 9 were involved in 14% of all pedestrian crashes (NHTSA)
- 2008: 112 Fatal pedestrian crashes in Maryland (20% of all Maryland automobile fatalities) (Maryland State Highway Administration)
- 2008: 70% of the pedestrians killed were at-fault, according to police reports (Maryland State Highway Administration)
- 2010: 4,280 fatal pedestrian crashes in the United States (NHTSA)
- 2010: 101 fatal pedestrian crashes in Maryland (NHTSA)
- 2011: 4,432 fatalities (NHTSA)
- 2012: 4,743 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States, and another 76,000 pedestrians were injured. Pedestrians ages 65 and older accounted for 20% of all pedestrian death (CDC). In Maryland, there were 96 fatalities. (GHSA)
If you have been injured in a serious pedestrian accident in Maryland, call us at 1.800.553.8082, or click here for a free consultation/case evaluation.More Pedestrian Accident Information
- Miller & Zois $664,000 Jury Award (media article of Miller & Zois pedestrian accident verdict against State Farm)
- Baltimore is the state capital of pedestrian crashes. Learn more about pedestrian issues specific to Baltimore and learn about the settlement and trial value of pedestrian cases in this jurisdiction.
- Recent Miller & Zois Pedestrian Accident Settlement
- Pedestrian Dog Bite Claims (an overview)
- Parking Lots Are a Menace for Pedestrians
- Texting Causes Particular Risk to Maryland Pedestrians
- Distracted Walking (not surprisingly, applies with equal force to pedestrians)
- Maryland Personal Injury Attorney Help Center (assistance for lawyers handling injury and malpractice cases, including pedestrian claims)
- Sample deposition of defendant in pedestrian accident case
- Lawyers Seeking to Refer Their Personal Injury Case to Miller & Zois (for lawyers around throughout the United States considering to involve co-counsel in their clients' pedestrian or auto accident cases)