Maryland Shoulder & Roadside Auto Accidents

Even if though many are preventable, auto accidents are a regular occurrence on Maryland’s highways and streets. Collisions can result in serious injuries, and fatalities, not only for motorists but also for pedestrians, cyclists, road construction workers, tow truck drivers, and drivers and passengers in disabled vehicles. Law enforcement officials performing their duties aren’t immune either.

One common scenario involves inattentive or distracted drivers passing a moving or stopped vehicle and sideswiping the other vehicle. The passing vehicle’s driver might be impaired by alcohol or drug consumption, or distracted by a cell phone.

Most of the time, the cause of these tragic mishaps is the same. The passing motorist is not paying attention, or is traveling too fast (especially if driving through a construction zone where posted speeds are reduced). This is why the state of Maryland imposes harsh fines on those found guilty of traveling above the posted speed limit in a road work zone. Workers need not be present in the work zone for the lower speed limit to be applicable and for drivers to face the possibility of hundreds of dollars in fines.

Roadside Crash Data

According to both the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) in 2009, 18.6 percent of all crashes happened off the roadway or on the median or shoulder.  And 55 percent of all vehicle crashes involved single vehicles (with about one in four of these involving pedestrians or pedal cyclists).

Among the most common examples of shoulder-of-the-road accidents are:

  • A car disabled on the shoulder of the road, in the dark fails to use its hazard lights and an unsuspecting driver hits the stationary vehicle.
  • A pedestrian walking on the shoulder of the road or a bicyclist traveling on the side of the road is struck and killed by an inattentive driver.

Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to road-side collisions. According to the Maryland State Highway Administration, 112 pedestrians were hit and killed in the state in 2008, accounting for 20 percent of all fatalities in Maryland that year.

Bicyclists are also extremely vulnerable to such collisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 677 cyclists were killed and an additional 48,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2011. The NHTSA also reminds all motorists and bicyclists that bicycles on the roadway are, by law, vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles.

Liability in Roadside Accidents

Following such an incident, law enforcement will typically attempt to determine if a stopped vehicle was fully removed from the road or impeding traffic, or if the pedestrian who was struck was not at-fault for the collision. Law enforcement investigations, however, only address the potential criminal nature of such crashes and do not determine civil liability — although criminal evidence can be used in civil trials. Speaking with a dedicated personal injury lawyer is the best way for you to determine your civil legal rights after a roadside accident. Pursing compensation for the harms and losses you have suffered benefits not only you and your dependents, it also benefits the community as civil penalties can serve as a strong motivator for at-fault drivers to address reckless or careless negligence.

Sometimes, however, the driver is not at-fault for the crash. Perhaps you were unable to avoid a disabled vehicle that was not completely removed from the road and was not properly lit. Maybe a pedestrian was intoxicated and veered into the road, or a cyclist cut you off, causing you to crash. In such cases, the driver of the other vehicle, the pedestrian, or the cyclist may be found legally responsible for the collision and for your losses.

Working with an Auto Accident Attorney

At our firm, we feel that every accident victim deserves to have their rights protected.

If you, or someone you love, have been injured in a shoulder of the road or side of the road collision, call our firm today to schedule a free, initial consultation with one of the attorneys in our Maryland practice group. Our attorneys are available any time of day, any day of the week. The earlier you contact well-qualified counsel, the earlier they can begin to evaluate your case and provide you with the information you require to determine you best course of action.