Negligence at a Non-Marked Crosswalk
Most people understand that, at a marked crosswalk, the driver of a vehicle approaching the crosswalk must yield to any pedestrians in the crosswalk. Simply stated, the purpose of the law governing pedestrian crosswalks is to prevent automobiles from colliding with pedestrians.
Recently however, a client contacted us who was hit in a non-marked (not white lined) crosswalk. The police officer who investigated the case stated in the police report (motor vehicle accident report) that the pedestrian was at fault. Also, the pedestrian was wearing dark clothing and the accident occurred during the summer at approximately 8:00 PM. The driver had made a left turn and hit the pedestrian within the non-marked crosswalk.
We researched the facts of this case and found that Maryland case law recognizes the theory of ‘’constructive crosswalks’’, meaning that although the crosswalk was not marked it is still a crosswalk and the pedestrian must be recognized as the favored party. The standard of care of the driver is not to hit a pedestrian in a constructive crosswalk, whether it is marked or unmarked. Hitting a pedestrian is a breach of the standard of care between the pedestrian and the driver of the motor vehicle and may entitle a pedestrian to damages. Therefore a driver may be held responsible for hitting a pedestrian in a constructive crosswalk ( non- marked crosswalk.)
The facts in each case are different and that is why you need to have an experienced attorney review your potential case.
The driver does, however, have defenses recognized by Maryland courts. These include behavior by the pedestrian that relates to being negligent and thereby depriving the pedestrian of receiving damages. Following are some examples of the pedestrian’s negligence. “Constructive” means that the crosswalk must be located where a marked crosswalk would be. Crossing many feet from where a marked crosswalk would be located will often lead to the pedestrian being denied damages. Running quickly into and through a crosswalk may not result in a recovery of damages because the driver does not have the means for corrective action to avoid hitting the pedestrian.
Even though in cases in which the pedestrian was found to be partially or totally at fault, pedestrians are usually able to receive Personal Injury Protection benefits from the driver’s insurance company. These benefits include medical expenses causally related to the accident that are reasonable and necessary. Also, lost wages of 85% of the injured party’s lost income may be obtained. Other areas that are covered could be the payment of housecleaning services in the event the injured person can’t clean their home. Maryland law requires all Maryland registered vehicles to have a minimum personal injury protection benefit of $2500. Often the policies have greater amounts of personal injury protection – up to $10, 000. Policies on vehicles registered in other states may have medical benefits similar to personal injury protection.
The recent case described above resulted in a settlement of the wrongful driver’s maximum liability insurance. We require an affidavit from the insurance company if it is alleged that the insurance company has offered the policy limits. Had the pedestrian also had uninsured motorist coverage in amounts greater than the insurance company that insured the wrongful driver, the pedestrian may have received more funds in settlement. Uninsured motorist coverage covers three areas of factual situations. These include first a driver who does not have insurance or a driver who did not have permission of the owner to drive the vehicle, and other similar situations; second, a phantom driver (meaning a driver who is involved but his or her identity is not known); and third, a wrongful driver that hits a pedestrian and has low liability amounts of insurance and the injured pedestrian owns a vehicle and his or her uninsured motorist vehicle coverage has greater amounts of uninsured motorist coverage. As an example, consider the instance where the at fault driver has $30,000 of liability coverage and the pedestrian’s vehicle has $60,000. The pedestrian may have the ability, depending on how serious the injuries are to the pedestrian, to recover $30,000 from the at fault driver’s insurance company and another $30,000 from the pedestrian’s uninsured motorist policy covering his/her vehicle. Also, the pedestrian may file a law suit against the at fault driver and, if the at fault driver has assets, may obtain a judgment in excess of both policies and garnish wages of the at fault driver or seize assets through the courts.
Fred Antenberg has over 30 years’ experience representing pedestrians and drivers. Should you have an accident, call Fred for a free initial consultation at 410 730 4404.
Fred is located in Columbia, Maryland, and represents individuals who have claims in Maryland and surrounding counties and Baltimore City.
Call Fred now.