Sometimes the most clear-cut injury cases can end up being the most difficult. To the general public many injury lawsuits seem cut and dry, winnable by almost any personal injury attorneys. In fact, many are much more complex behind the scenes and can involve significant contested issues of liability.
One type of case that falls into this category is the car-on-pedestrian accident (or car-on-cyclist). Sadly, these kinds of accidents often involve the most serious and catastrophic injuries.
When a car hits a pedestrian, it may seem easy for the pedestrian to prove the car was at fault. After all, drivers are supposed to recognize and avoid pedestrians. But subtle factual issues can make proving these cases difficult. Maryland, like most states, requires that victims take some consideration of their own safety and can hold victims responsible for their injuries to the extent that they, and not the other party, caused them.
Factors Determining Liability
We would all likely agree that someone who bolts out into the middle of the road or walks into the middle of a freeway would be almost entirely responsible for his or her own injuries if he or she is hit by an oncoming car. In many cases, the liability is not so clear-cut–the pedestrian did not just bolt out into traffic, and likewise, the driver of the car that hits him could have and should have seen the pedestrian and avoided him. Recreating the actual accident scene to determine what really happened can come down to a matter of seconds and inches. Questions arise, such as:
● When did the driver first see the pedestrian?
● How fast was the driver going?
● Was there time after seeing the pedestrian for the driver to slow down or avoid him?
● Where in the road did the pedestrian get hit? For example, was it in a crosswalk where he legally had the right to be, or in the middle of the road?
● Are there physical clues such as skid marks on the road that would tell us when the driver saw the pedestrian?
● How did the pedestrian get struck? For example, was he thrust backwards, or did he go forwards, over the hood?
All of these questions will assist in dividing up the responsibility between the two parties. Almost always, experts need to get involved–they can testify that based on a certain speed, certain distances, and other factors, whether an accident was avoidable or not. A slight change in even one factor or variable can alter the expert’s opinion and change the liability that is apportioned to each party.
Never assume your injury case is easy, clear cut, or that just anyone can handle it. Winning and losing, especially when you have serious injury, can hinge on even the slightest factual detail and depends on lawyers who know what they are doing. Contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your rights.