We have made a lot of progress in automobile safety. Car and trucks are built with safety features our grandparents would not have imagined. Pedestrians are still in the exact same boat: completely unprotected. The big difference today is that pedestrians are even more vulnerable because of the technological distractions of cell phones and texting.
Pedestrian accidents are often catastrophic. Pedestrian injuries occur in places other than crosswalks and it is usually the driver’s responsibility to ensure that they do not hit a pedestrian. In spite of the fact that Maryland law is designed largely to protect and defer to the pedestrian, our law firm sees far too many pedestrian death cases very year.Pedestrian Fatality Statistics in Maryland
Over the past decade, between 100 and 130 Marylanders were killed in pedestrian accidents each year. In 2012, the national tally was 4,743, but that number will hopefully shrink in the years to come. Though in Maryland specifically, the number of fatalities actually went up in 2013. This speaks sadly to the quality of Maryland drivers because there was a 9% decline in deaths nationally since 2009. Most everyone seems to be getting better than us. All these statistics point to the same thing: this problem needs to be addressed and we need to hold negligent and distracted drivers accountable.
Children and elderly pedestrians are at the highest risk of pedestrian death. A child is less aware of traffic and may be more inclined to enter a busy or dangerous intersection. At the same time, a minor injury suffered by an elderly person has the potential to be deadly in the event of medical complications. These harsh realities truly illustrate the massive responsibility placed on drivers. Few commuters realize that a momentary lapse in concentration can change a family forever. These drivers need to be held accountable – including possible criminal charges -- if we have any chance in reducing the number of pedestrian fatalities.Sample Settlements and Verdicts
Below are sample settlements and verdict in fatal pedestrian accident cases in Maryland:
- 2013, Maryland: $100,000 Verdict: A woman is walking across the street when a driver strikes and kills her. The driver flees, turning himself into police. The woman’s husband sues, seeking damages, but the driver contends that the woman was outside of the crosswalk. The husband still contends that the driver should have been able to see her. The jury agrees and awards the husband $100,000. Why so little in a death case? Sometimes in these cases, the damages are limited not by Maryland cap on damages or by the jury but by the amount of the insurance proceeds available, particularly in uninsured motorist cases like this one.
- 2011, Maryland: $2,030,000 Verdict: An elderly couple was walking when a dump truck backs into them. The wife is killed as a result of her injuries, while the husband suffers severe injuries. The wife’s estate sued the contractor and construction company operating the truck for wrongful death and was awarded a $2,030,000 verdict, with $1,140,000 accounting for the woman’s death.
- 2011, Maryland: $3,300,000 Verdict: Three people exit a bus and are walking on a shoulder of a road when a car veers on to the shoulder, killing each of them. Among them are a pregnant woman and her young daughter. Their family members sue the State of Maryland, alleging that they should have built a sidewalk on the shoulder, which would have avoided the accident. A Prince George’s County jury awards the family members $3,300,000.
- 2011, Maryland: $2,025,000 Verdict: An inmate is picking up trash on the side of the interstate when a dump truck crashes into him. He dies from his injuries. His estate sues both the driver of the truck and the State of Maryland, alleging that the Department of Corrections should have employed safer methods for using inmates to clean roads. A Prince George’s County jury awards the estate $2,025,000.
These verdicts need to be taken with a blocks of salt when using these figures to compute the value of your own pedestrian accident wrongful death case. It is also important to realize that the jury is not told of the cap on damages or any caps on insurance. So unless there is a stipulated verdict, the jury simply gives it award. Those claims against the state are capped at a measly $200,000. The last pedestrian wrongful death case we settled a few years back resolved for $1,000,000. Why so little? That was all the insurance the Allstate driver had and he did not have assets that justified going after the driver individually. The harsh reality is that we have also settled pedestrian accident wrongful death cases for $20,000 and $30,000 because that was all the insurance that was available.
This brings up an important point about these cases. Sometimes, the best work personal injury lawyers can do in these cases is find insurance. Maryland law bends toward insurance and there are creative ways to involve insurance companies that are counterintuitive. So you need a lawyer with the background and experience to look under every rock imaginable to find more insurance.Hiring a Maryland Lawyer
Our lawyer have earned millions for our clients in settlements and verdicts in Maryland pedestrian accident cases. If you have lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident in the Baltimore-Washington area and believe you have a potential wrongful death claim, call Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation and case evaluation.