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Can a Pedestrian Jaywalker Sue for Injury in Maryland?

Monday, November 7th, 2022 By

Can a Pedestrian Jaywalker Sue for Injury in Maryland?

Walking or running is a great form of exercise and a good way to get around when you live in a pedestrian-friendly city. Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents remain a major problem in Maryland. In 2021, 131 people were killed in pedestrian accidents. To date in 2022, 82 people have been killed after being struck by motor vehicles in our state.

If you are hit by a car, truck, or SUV as a pedestrian, you can usually file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for your injuries. However, if you were jaywalking at the time of the crash, Maryland’s harsh contributory negligence laws may limit your ability to file a claim. Under these rules, if you are found to be even partially at fault for the accident, the case may be dismissed.

At DuBoff & Associates, we advocate for injury victims throughout Maryland – including pedestrians who have been hurt in motor vehicle accidents. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. Reach out today to schedule an appointment with a Silver Spring pedestrian accident lawyer.

Is Jaywalking Against the Law in Maryland?

When you were learning to drive, you may have heard the phrase “pedestrians have the right of way.” In Maryland, this isn’t strictly true. While drivers are encouraged to exercise care regarding pedestrians, walkers and runners only have the right-of-way when they are in a crosswalk.

Maryland law provides that pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to vehicles approaching a roadway when they are not crossing in a designated crosswalk. Specifically, these laws provide that:

  1. If a pedestrian crosses a roadway at any point other than in a marked crosswalk or in an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, the pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching on the roadway.
  2. If a pedestrian crosses a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing is provided, the pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching on the roadway.
  3. Between adjacent intersections at which a traffic control signal is in operation, a pedestrian may cross a roadway only in a marked crosswalk with diagonal stripes (sometimes referred to as a zebra crosswalk).
  4. A pedestrian may not cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by a traffic control device for crossing movements. If authorized to cross diagonally, a pedestrian may cross only in accordance with the traffic control device.

Importantly, there are some exceptions to the general rule that pedestrians must cross a street in a marked crosswalk. For example, Maryland law provides that a pedestrian has the right of way when the sidewalk is elongated on both sides of the roadway. This functions as an invisible crosswalk.

Pedestrians are also required to follow all traffic control signals. They are also forbidden from suddenly leaving a curb or other place of safety to walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

Jaywalking includes any type of illegal pedestrian crossing of a road. While this term is not used in the Maryland Code, an individual can still be ticketed for jaywalking in several different scenarios. This includes:

  • Crossing a road without traffic lights with cars around (you must yield to motor vehicles);
  • Crossing a road with traffic lights outside of a marked crosswalk;
  • Crossing a road with a pedestrian tunnel or bridge with cars around (you must yield to motor vehicles);
  • Crossing a road against a traffic signal, such as a steady red light or a “don’t walk” signal

The fines for a jaywalking citation range from $40 to $500. While it is unusual to be ticketed for jaywalking, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore laws on the rights and duties of pedestrians. If you are hit by a motor vehicle while illegally crossing the road, it could affect your ability to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Can a Jaywalker Sue After Being Hit By a Car in Maryland?

As a general rule, if you are hit by a car, truck, bus, or another motor vehicle when you are walking or running, you can file a lawsuit against the responsible driver. However, your ability to file a claim may be limited if you were jaywalking at the time of the accident.

Most states allow an injury victim to pursue financial compensation for an accident even if they were partially at fault. Maryland is one of just a handful of jurisdictions – along with Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, and Washington, DC – where an accident victim can be barred from filing a personal injury lawsuit if they were even slightly at fault.

In the majority of states, an individual can file a pedestrian accident lawsuit even if they were somewhat at fault for the crash – such as if they were jaywalking. Their total recovery will then be reduced by the percentage that they were at fault.

Maryland is different. Under its contributory negligence laws, accident victims cannot file a lawsuit against an at-fault party if they were more than 1% responsible for the accident. As a result, pedestrians who were hit by a motor vehicle while jaywalking may not be able to recover any financial compensation for their injuries – even if they were severely hurt.

In a pedestrian accident case involving jaywalking, the driver’s insurance company will typically use the contributory negligence laws as a reason to deny the claim. This does not mean that it is impossible to file a lawsuit for a pedestrian accident if you were jaywalking at the time. A skilled Maryland pedestrian accident lawyer car accident attorney may be able to argue that you were 1% or less at fault for the crash – and fight for your right to full compensation.

How Pedestrians Can Stay Safe in Maryland

The rules about when and where pedestrians can cross the road exist for a reason: to keep people safe. Using marked crosswalks whenever possible is critical to reducing the risk of being hit by a car. If a marked or “invisible” crosswalk is not available, you should always try to cross at an intersection rather than cutting across the street. You should never assume that vehicles will see you or that they will stop for you.

In addition to increasing your safety, using crosswalks and abiding by Maryland law is also a good way to protect your legal rights. Maryland’s contributory negligence rules can be incredibly unfair. If you follow these laws, the insurance company won’t be able to deny your claim outright based on jaywalking. Instead, you’ll be able to seek justice through a personal injury lawsuit.

Fighting for Pedestrians Throughout Maryland

Pedestrian accidents can lead to devastating or even fatal injuries. While injury victims can often file a lawsuit to recover financial compensation for their injuries, they may be barred from doing so if they were even slightly at fault for the crash. Our law firm will work with you to put together the strongest possible claim for damages.

With offices in Silver Spring and Baltimore, DuBoff & Associates represents accident victims throughout Maryland. Our legal team has a track record of success, fighting to get our clients the money that they deserve for their injuries. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a Maryland pedestrian accident attorney, give us a call at 301-495-3131 or fill out our online contact form.

Question 1:

I Was Hit By a Car. How Long Do I Have to File a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit?

Answer 1:

In Maryland, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is 3 years. With a few exceptions, this means that you have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If you wait too long, then the insurance company will likely deny your claim or seek to have the case dismissed because it was not brought within the statute of limitations.

Although it can be overwhelming to consider pursuing legal action immediately after a pedestrian accident, acting quickly can help to preserve your legal rights. Contact DuBoff & Associates to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with a member of our legal team.

Question 2:

Do I Really Need a Lawyer for a Maryland Pedestrian Accident Case?

Answer 2:

Yes. In some situations, an individual can handle an accident claim on their own – such as if they suffered no injuries and the case only involves property damage. But pedestrian accident cases are different because it is incredibly unlikely that a person would not be hurt after being struck by a motor vehicle. If you have any injuries at all – even minor injuries – you should consult with a personal injury lawyer.

A skilled attorney can put together a strong claim for damages, including arguing against the application of the contributory negligence rule. Reach out to DuBoff & Associates to schedule a free consultation with a Maryland pedestrian accident lawyer.

Question 3:

How Much Is My Pedestrian Accident Case Worth?

Answer 3:

The value of your claim depends on several factors, including how severe your injuries are, whether you are expected to make a full recovery and the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.  In addition, the contributory negligence rule may also affect the value of your claim.

The best way to get an idea of how much your claim is worth is to consult with a Silver Spring pedestrian accident attorney. During a free consultation, they will listen to your story, advise you of your legal options, and give you a ballpark estimate of the value of your case. Call DuBoff & Associates today to learn more about how we can help.

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