Is a Skateboarder a Pedestrian or a Driver?
In Maryland, the answer to this question begins with another question: Is the skateboard a vehicle?Under Maryland law, a “pedestrian” is “an individual afoot.” Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 11-145. A “driver” means “any individual who drives a vehicle.” Id. § 11-115.
In Woolridge v. Price, 184 Md. App. 451 (2009), a 44 year old man had been riding a skateboard down the driveway of one home, across the street, and into the driveway of another home. While entering the roadway at a rapid speed and in a crouched position, the skateboarder was struck and killed by a car. In the wrongful death action that followed, a key issue was whether the decedent was a pedestrian or a driver.
The Court began its discussion by looking at the legal definition of a vehicle – “any device in, on, or by which any individual or property might be transported or towed on a highway.” Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 11-176(a)(1). The Court noted that “vehicle” included “low speed vehicle.” Finding that the skateboard was a “vehicle” on which a person might be transported, the Court held that the skateboarder was a “driver.” Why? Because the decedent was driving or operating the skateboard at the time of the accident.
The Court’s decision in Woolridge comports with other Maryland cases which distinguish between a person on foot and a person on or in a vehicle. A motorcyclist who got off his motorcycle and pushed his motorcycle across a highway was found to be a pedestrian. Dmeski v. Atlantic Refining Co., 202 Md. 562 (1953). A person pushing a disabled car onto a roadway was also found to be a pedestrian. Braswell v. Burrus, 13 Md. App. 513 (1971). By contrast, a snow sled with a child on it was held to be a vehicle. Moon v. Weeks, 25 Md. App. 322 (1975). So, too, was a bicycle ridden by a young boy. Richards v. Goff, 26 Md. App. 344 (1975).
In the law of personal injury, questions often beget other questions. To answer these questions, wise counsel is necessary. If you have legal questions about your personal injury case, seek the wise counsel of Kramer & Connolly.
Tags: auto, auto accident, automobile, bicycle, car accident, driver, motorcycle, pedestrian, skateboard, sled, vehicle