Government Liability in Maryland Pedestrian Accident Cases

Accidents involving pedestrians are often some of the most serious due to the extent of the injuries involved. Thus, it is essential for a Maryland pedestrian accident victim to locate all potential sources of compensation. Of course, the defendants named in a lawsuit will almost always be the driver that hit the pedestrian. However, there may be other potentially liable parties as well, such as the government entity in charge of designing and maintaining the area where the accident occurred.

Pedestrian accidents often occur in areas with unique and potentially dangerous traffic features. For example, a poorly maintained, improperly marked, or misplaced crosswalk may give pedestrians a false sense of security as they cross the road. This is essentially the situation in a case discussed in a recent appellate opinion.

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was killed on Halloween night as she was crossing the street at a marked crosswalk. The motorist was traveling well over the posted 45 mile-per-hour speed limit. The crosswalk is marked, and there are signs notifying approaching motorists of the crosswalk. After the accident, the driver fled the scene, but was later arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter.

The parents of the accident victims filed a wrongful death claim against the city, arguing that the crosswalk constituted a “dangerous condition of public property.” The plaintiffs based their claim on the fact that a large tree near where the accident occurred shielded the intersection from light. The city responded to the plaintiffs’ claim by arguing that the sidewalk was not a dangerous condition and that, even if it was, the city had no notice of the fact that it was dangerous.

The court rejected the plaintiffs’ claim, first noting that there is no general duty to provide light at an intersection. However, the court acknowledged that when there is a “some peculiar condition rendering lighting necessary in order to make the streets safe for travel” a duty to light an intersection may arise.

Here, however, the court found that no such condition was present. The court explained that the large tree was on the opposite side of the intersection from the streetlight, meaning that it was not blocking any of the light given off by the streetlight. The court held that there was no evidence suggesting that the tree “exacerbated the darkness factor at the point of impact.” The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the speed limit was unreasonably high, noting that the at-fault driver completely disregarded the speed limit. Thus, the court held that even if the speed limit was too high, that error was not the proximate cause of the accident.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Pedestrian Accident?

If you or someone you love recently suffered serious injury after being struck by a car, contact the personal injury advocates at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we represent injury victims and their family members in all types of Maryland car accident claims, and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. To learn more, call 800-654-1949 to schedule a free consultation today.

Contact Information