Determining liability in pedestrian vs. automobile accidents illustrates the strict and harsh nature of an ancient legal concept still employed by Maryland courts. The principle is called contributory negligence, and holds that an injured person many not recover for their injuries if they caused, or contributed to the occurrence, in even the slightest fashion. I have heard many times over the years a prospective client say that:
“I was struck by a vehicle as a pedestrian therefore the driver of the car is at fault.” Unfortunately while this is a popular perception, it's not an accurate statement of Maryland law.
Both drivers and pedestrians have an obligation to be vigilant for their own safety, and the safety of others, at all times. Having said that, there are some general rules that apply. If there is a traffic control signal, that signal controls, and drivers and pedestrians must adhere to it. Secondly, Pedestrians, while in street crossings within a marked or unmarked crosswalk will generally have the right of way over vehicles. Conversely, vehicles driving in the middle of the block between marked or unmarked crosswalks generally will have the right of way over any pedestrians. If a pedestrian crosses in the middle of the block, and an accident ensues, the concept of contributory negligence often and frequently operates to bar any claims of these pedestrians, even those with serious injury. The same principle applies to pedestrians who cross against a signal.