Not necessarily. While pedestrians do have the right of way at a crosswalk, they also have a responsibility to behave prudently. If they exhibit erratic, unpredictable behavior, a driver may not be at fault, even if the accident occurs in or near a crosswalk.
If you have questions or concerns about your case, a Maryland car accident lawyer can help. They can investigate the collision, figure out who is at fault, and calculate how much compensation you may be eligible for.
When Are Drivers at Fault in Pedestrian Accidents Near Crosswalks?
Most, if not all, states have laws in place to protect pedestrians by explaining how they and the drivers around them should behave. For example, Maryland’s laws state the following:
- Pedestrians must yield the right of way if they intend to cross the road at any spot that does not contain a crosswalk (Md. Trans. Code § 21-503)
- Pedestrians have the right of way when they are crossing the road at a crosswalk, whether or not the crosswalk is marked.
- Regardless of who has the right of way, drivers must always do what they can to avoid hitting a pedestrian. This is especially true if the pedestrian is a vulnerable person, like a child or an “obviously confused or incapacitated individual.” (Md. Trans. Code § 21-504)
Drivers Are at Fault When They Disobey State Laws
While a driver is not always at fault in an accident if a pedestrian is in or near a crosswalk, they do bear liability for accidents in which they break traffic laws like those described above. Scenarios when a driver may be at fault include the following:
- The driver made no attempt to stop or slow down at the crosswalk or traffic signal, despite the presence of a stop sign or a red light.
- The driver was speeding, so by the time they noticed the pedestrian in the crosswalk, they were unable to stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.
- The driver was distracted by a cell phone or other device, so they failed to notice the pedestrian.
Whether your accident occurred at an unmarked crosswalk or a marked crosswalk, local traffic laws apply.
For legal consultation, call (410)777-8960
When Are Pedestrians at Fault in Accidents Near Crosswalks?
Since pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks, the circumstances under which they are at fault are much more limited. They include situations where the pedestrian:
- Darted into the road without any prior indication that they intended to do so
- Moved back and forth between the road and the sidewalk without any rhyme or reason
- Suddenly began to retrace their steps after passing in front of a vehicle
Not All Pedestrian Accidents Are the Driver’s Fault
There are many ways that a driver can try to avoid a pedestrian accident, including:
- Honking the horn to warn off the pedestrian
- Swerving out of the way to the extent possible without endangering themselves or others
- Exercising due caution around crosswalks by slowing down, obeying traffic signs, and checking in all directions for pedestrians before moving ahead
If a driver behaved prudently before, during, and after the accident, they are probably not at fault, even if they hit a pedestrian in or near a crosswalk. A driver can only be held liable if they were negligent in some way.
What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident In or Near a Crosswalk
Once the accident has occurred, the driver’s responsibility is clear: they must stay on the scene, get the pedestrian medical aid as necessary, and provide the pedestrian with their name and insurance information. Failure to do so:
- Is against the law
- Makes the driver look guilty
- Could give the pedestrian a good reason to file a hit-and-run case against the driver
Reporting a Pedestrian Accident to the Police
Even if you are afraid the accident might have been your fault, you should not avoid reporting it or speaking to the police. When the police arrive on the scene, you can protect yourself by:
- Sticking to the facts. Do not speculate about what might have happened or what the other party might have been doing before they entered your line of sight.
- Providing brief, factual answers. When the officer asks a question, answer it as succinctly as possible. Do not volunteer additional information.
- Avoiding apologies. If you say you are sorry for the accident, the other party can use this as evidence in a personal injury case against you.
- Contacting a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Unlike with the police, you should be forthcoming with your lawyer so they can help you find out what really happened.
How a Traffic Accident Lawyer Can Determine Fault
A pedestrian accident lawyer can help you dispute liability if there is any doubt as to who caused the crash. For example, if an injured pedestrian accuses you of causing the accident, your attorney can:
- Speak to witnesses who observed both your behavior and the pedestrian’s
- Review video footage of the accident to see what happened or figure out if the pedestrian was really in the crosswalk at the time
- Consult an accident reconstruction specialist who can help them figure out how the accident likely happened based on the parties’ injuries and positioning
Taking Legal Action After a Pedestrian Accident
If you suffered any injuries, losses, or damages because of a careless individual, you have a limited time to take action against them. Again using Maryland as an example, this state grants you three years from the injury date to bring a case, as codified at Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code § 5-101.
No one should have to suffer because of another person’s carelessness. You have the right to hire a personal injury lawyer to help prove your innocence and to recover the compensation you deserve.
Learn More About Fault in Pedestrian Accidents at Crosswalks
A driver is not always at fault in an accident if a pedestrian is in or near a crosswalk. MD Accident Law can determine who is at fault in your case and pursue any compensation you qualify for. Call us today at (410) 777-8960 to get started with a free case review. We can handle your case while you concentrate on healing.