Every year, hundreds of people are seriously injured by automobiles while crossing Maryland roads. It is simple physics, really. Force equals mass times acceleration. The average automobile has a mass many times greater than the mass of an average person. An automobile is capable of speeds many times greater than the walking speed of an average person as well. Any way you slice it, this is a dangerous combination for pedestrians. Maryland personal injury attorneys know this all too well, as their offices frequently receive calls involving a serious injury or fatality when a pedestrian is involved in a collision with an automobile.
Lawmakers understand that it is unavoidable that pedestrian traffic and street traffic must sometimes use the same roadways. As such, Maryland law requires that all pedestrians cross streets at designated crosswalks. Where no such crosswalks exist, Maryland law recognizes an “implied crosswalk” at the natural corners of streets, where the sidewalk can be imagined to continue across the street to the other side. Drivers of automobiles in Maryland are required by law to stop for pedestrian traffic at all designated and implied crosswalks. The problem, however, is not hard to imagine. Pedestrians do not always cross at designated or implied crosswalks, nor do Maryland drivers always stop as they are supposed to when they see a pedestrian about to cross the street.
The other problem that most people do not know about or think about when it comes to pedestrian accidents is a quirk in Maryland law that prevents a personal injury recovery if the injured party is determined to be at all responsible for the accident. Maryland remains in a dwindling minority of states that recognizes contributory negligence. Because of this negligence system, any contribution the plaintiff makes to his or her own injury could bar them from any kind of personal injury recovery, even if the defendant is overwhelmingly to blame.
In almost every other state, a jury examines the evidence and determines what percentage each party was at fault. This percentage is used in the calculation of awarding money damages. To most, it is considered fairer to the plaintiff because it still allows for recovery if the plaintiff was only negligent to a minor degree. In Maryland, the mere fact that a pedestrian plaintiff had failed to use a crosswalk can, and has in the past, been the determining factor in a jury’s refusal to award money damages.
Nevertheless, juries in Maryland can still be sympathetic to pedestrians, even if there is a dispute as to whether the pedestrian was properly crossing the street. A pedestrian who has been struck by an automobile needs an experienced Maryland attorney who can make a compelling and persuasive presentation of the facts of the accident. Even if the accident claim never makes it to a jury, a pedestrian plaintiff still needs an attorney who will not be bullied by insurance companies whose bottom line depends on their refusal to pay on claims. Such an attorney is just a phone call away.
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