Pedestrian Accident Attorney

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Pedestrian Accident Cases

Brien Roche

Pedestrian accident claims involve serious injuries. If you or a family member have been injured in a pedestrian accident contact us.

There are state and local laws that govern how and where people on foot may cross the street. If there is no sidewalk then people on foot may be allowed to walk on the hard surface of the road. However they must stay to the left. Further drivers must change course in order to avoid contact with a pedestrian. Also a pedestrian in a clearly marked crosswalk is entitled to cross safely.

Pedestrian Accident Investigation

Every year thousands of people on foot are killed in auto crashes. Prompt and thorough investigation of these claims is a must. Once the facts are gathered and the law reviewed then a plan of action must be set. Most pedestrian crashes involve some witnesses. Therefore you must locate and interview these witnesses. In other words if you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident you need to move quickly to protect your rights.

Pedestrian Accident in the Crosswalk

Pedestrians who are struck in a crosswalk or at an intersection have special protection. However pedestrian crashes that occur outside of an intersection or crosswalk can be tough cases. They still may be viable claims. However this depends on the facts. Crossing in between intersections or outside of a crosswalk may be allowed in some cases. As a result the facts of your case must be fully explored.

In Virginia in 2012 100 pedestrians were killed. In addition another 1862 pedestrians were injured. Pedestrian injury cases require a prompt inspection. Google Maps may give you an overview of the scene. Also you must visit the scene with your client. Photos of the area from all angles are a must. In addition measure the roadway and the distance from all pertinent structures. Having your client with you for this is a must. In addition the inspection should take place on the same day of week and time as the crash. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Pedestrian Accident Cases-Statutes

Many Virginia statutes may apply. Virginia Code § 46.2-923 says that pedestrians “…shall cross, whenever possible, only at intersections or marked crosswalks.” That statute is pretty clear. If the pedestrian crosses in between intersections that contain marked crosswalks, I would say that probably is pretty good evidence of the fact that the plaintiff was guilty of fault. The statute goes on to say that where the intersection does not have a marked crosswalk and the pedestrian crosses at that intersection, then that is not negligence as a matter of law for crossing at such intersection. Likewise if the pedestrian crosses in between intersections which do not have marked crosswalks, then the pedestrian has to cross by the most direct route. If the pedestrian does that, then the pedestrian is not guilty of fault as a matter of law.

Virginia Code § 46.2-924.B to some extent further explains this and says that a pedestrian crossing at an intersection has the right of way over a vehicle making a turn into the highway that the pedestrian is crossing. Code § 46.2-924.A says that a vehicle shall yield to a pedestrian who is crossing at a regular pedestrian crossing that is included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block. In addition the driver shall yield at any intersection where the speed limit is not over 35 mph.

The Virginia Model Jury Instruction No. 14.000 also says that a pedestrian who is crossing a street has the duty to step from his course of travel into a place of safety if it reasonably appears to him that he is in danger of being struck by a motor vehicle that is approaching.

Pedestrian Accident Cases-Case Law

The case law on pedestrian injury cases is varied. However some general principles that stand out are:

  • The duty of lookout is not an absolute duty on the part of the pedestrian. Rather it is a duty of care to see what is there to be seen.
  • Motorists must exercise a greater degree of care at intersections because pedestrians have superior rights.
  • A pedestrian crossing with the traffic light has the right-of-way which continues if the light changes while the pedestrian is crossing.
  • Where the pedestrian has the right-of-way it puts the burden of close observation on the motorist.
  • Where a minor pedestrian is present then the driver must increase care knowing the child may engage in foolish behavior.

Pedestrian Collisions-Walking Can Be Safe

Walking has been heavily promoted as a way to reduce health risks, obesity and greenhouse gases. Four of the heavily populated states accounted for 43% of pedestrian deaths. Delaware and Florida have the highest per capita pedestrian death rate.

Factors Related to Death

The six factors that appear to be most related to pedestrian deaths are:

    • Age. Pedestrians 70 or older have the highest per capita crash rate of any age group. Hence this is a group that must be protected much the same as we protect children.
    • Gender. About 70% of pedestrians killed in vehicle crashes are males.
    • Time of day. Most deaths are in the evening after 6 PM.
    • Alcohol. More than a third of pedestrians in the year 2013 who were 16 or older involved in fatal crashes had blood alcohol levels of .08 or higher.
    • Distractions. A survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance indicated that 60% of pedestrians were doing other activities while walking. In other words they were texting or talking on a cell phone.
    • Driver speed. Driver speed increases the chance of death. As a result many states have decreased the speed limit in congested areas. The death speed is thought of as being 25 mph or higher.

Safety Measures

Some safety measures to protect people on foot are pedestrian safety islands and longer pedestrian signal timing. More visible crosswalks may also help. Also better education on pedestrian safety is needed. Pedestrian rights and safety must be focused on with young or inexperienced drivers. Without this, pedestrian crashes will continue to rise. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Pedestrians In DC Have Greater Protection

The city council in the District of Columbia has passed laws giving greater protection to certain people. The law applies to pedestrians, bike riders and other persons using a vehicle without a motor on the public highway.  The protection comes in the form of replacing the contributory negligence standard. The new standard is comparative negligence.

The language in the statute is that the fault of the plaintiff does not bar the claim where such fault is a cause of the injury. However the caveat is that the plaintiff’s fault must not be more than 50%.

Contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff is no longer a bar to a civil action.  In most other negligence claims in the District of Columbia fault on the part of the plaintiff bars the claim. That fault must cause in a substantial fashion the injury. Hence that rule of law no longer applies to the above protected classes.
Some question exists as to whether or not this new statute found at DC Code § 50-2204.52 is retroactive.  The statute is not clear in that regard. It does state that it applies to “any civil action”. This would suggest that it applies to pending civil actions and also civil actions to be filed.

Call, or contact us for a free consult. For more information on pedestrian accidents see the page on Wikipedia dealing with pedestrians.

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Pedestrian Accident Attorney

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    Contact Us For A Free Consultation