Accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles often prompt questions about fault. This can be especially confusing when pedestrians are jaywalking.
In Maryland, the determination of fault in such situations depends on several factors.
Traffic regulations are in place to ensure the safety of both drivers and pedestrians. While jaywalking is generally discouraged and may be a violation of traffic laws, drivers are also expected to exercise caution and adhere to speed limits. The responsibility to avoid accidents extends to both parties.
The state operates on a contributory negligence system, which means that if both the pedestrian and the driver share responsibility for the accident, the pedestrian may be unable to recover damages. In cases of jaywalking, if the pedestrian’s actions contributed to the accident, it may affect their ability to seek compensation.
Driver’s duty of care
Drivers have a duty of care towards pedestrians, even when they are jaywalking. If a driver fails to exercise reasonable care or ignores traffic conditions, they may be at fault. Drivers must remain vigilant, especially in areas where pedestrians are likely to cross outside designated zones.
Establishing fault requires a careful examination of the circumstances surrounding the accident. Gathering evidence, such as witness statements, surveillance footage and police reports, is necessary to determine the degree of fault. Drivers need to be aware that the mere presence of jaywalking does not automatically absolve them of responsibility.
While jaywalking is generally discouraged, there may be exceptions where unforeseen circumstances contribute to a pedestrian crossing outside designated areas. In such cases, the driver may still be responsible if they fail to react appropriately to the situation.
In 2022, there were over 2,600 crashes involving pedestrians in Maryland. Understanding the shared responsibilities of drivers and pedestrians is key to fostering road safety and preventing accidents.