Boulevard Rule Allows Plaintiff to Successfully Appeal Judgment in Maryland Auto Accident Case

A car crash may be the result of multiple factors, including negligence on the part of both drivers.  In a May 3, 2019 Maryland car accident case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered the issue of the plaintiff’s negligence.  The plaintiff appealed the matter after the trial jury found her partially responsible for the collision, thus barring her recovery.

The accident occurred at an intersection controlled by flashing red and yellow traffic lights.  The plaintiff was traveling on the eastbound road, which was controlled by a flashing yellow light.  The defendant was on the southbound road with the flashing red light.  As the plaintiff approached the intersection, she claimed that the defendant pulled out in front of her between cars that were stopped in the westbound lanes.  The plaintiff could not stop in time and collided into the defendant’s vehicle.

The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant, who asserted that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.  The plaintiff argued that the defendant could not establish that defense because she entered the intersection with the right of way and, as such, was not negligent as a matter of law.

In Maryland, the Boulevard Rule provides that when a vehicle attempts to cross a highway, it must stop and yield the right of way to all approaching traffic traveling on the highway.  The defendant conceded that the Boulevard Rule applied but argued that it did not relieve the plaintiff of her duty to use ordinary care in driving through the intersection.

On appeal, the court agreed that the plaintiff still had a general duty of ordinary care.  However, the court noted that, with the cars in the westbound lane blocking her view, the plaintiff could not see the defendant, nor could the defendant see the plaintiff, until seconds before impact.  The court held that under the rule, the plaintiff had the right to presume that crossing traffic would yield to the right of way traffic.  Likewise, the court held that the defendant was obligated to wait for an unobstructed view before crossing the intersection.

The appeals court went on to conclude that there was no evidence that the plaintiff had been speeding or driving erratically, nor any evidence to find that, had she been more attentive or cautious, the collision could have been avoided.  Rather, the defendant’s failure to yield the right of way was the proximate cause of the accident.  As such, the court ruled that the trial court should have entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff on the issue of contributory negligence.  The court reversed the verdict for the defendant and remanded the case for a new trial.

If you have been hurt in a motor vehicle collision or car accident, the Maryland personal injury attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. can help you evaluate your legal options against the responsible parties.  We have brought negligence claims on behalf of accident victims and other plaintiffs seeking compensation for their injuries.  Call Foran & Foran, P.A. at (301) 441-2022 or contact us online and request a free consultation with a skilled attorney regarding your injury.