Pedestrian Accident Attorney

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Pedestrian Accident Cases

Brien Roche

Pedestrian accident claims involve devastating injuries. If you or a family member have been injured in a pedestrian accident caused by a motorist, contact us.

There are state and local laws and ordinances that govern how and where pedestrians may walk and how and where they may cross the street. If there is no sidewalk, then pedestrians may be allowed to walk on the hard surface of the road staying to the left. Drivers are, of course, required to change course in order to avoid contact with a pedestrian. A pedestrian in a clearly marked crosswalk is entitled to protection.

Pedestrian Accident Investigation

Every year thousands of pedestrians are killed in motor vehicle crashes. Prompt and thorough investigation of these claims is critical. Once the facts have been gathered and the applicable law has been reviewed then a plan of action can be set out. Most pedestrian accidents involve some eye witnesses. It is critical to locate and interview those witnesses promptly.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 in the law. Pedestrian collisions that occur outside of an intersection or crosswalk become more problematic but still may be viable claims depending on the specific facts of the case. Crossing in between intersections or outside of a crosswalk may be permissible in some instances. The specific facts of your case must be fully developed.
In Virginia in 2012 100 pedestrians were killed and another 1862 pedestrians were injured. Pedestrian injury cases require a thorough inspection of the scene. Google Maps may give you an overview of the scene. There is no substitute for visiting the scene with your client. Photographs of the area from all angles are a must. Measurements of the roadway and the distance from all pertinent structures must be taken. Having your client with you for this inspection is critical. Ideally the inspection should take place on the same day of week and time as the collision.

Pedestrian Accident Cases-Statutes

There are several Virginia statutes that may apply. Section 46.2-923 requires that pedestrians cross at intersections or marked crosswalks wherever possible. Where intersections do not contain marked crosswalks a pedestrian shall not be guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law for crossing at such intersection or crossing between intersections when crossing by the most direct route. Section 46.2-924 requires drivers to yield to any pedestrian crossing at a clearly marked crosswalk, at any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block, or any intersection where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 mph. There are number of other code sections that deal with pedestrian crossing.

Pedestrian Accident Cases-Case Law

The case law on pedestrian injury cases is varied. Some general principles that stand out are:
-the duty of lookout is not an absolute duty on the part of the pedestrian but rather is a duty of care to see what is there to be seen;
-motorists must exercise a greater degree of vigilance at intersection 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 necessity of continuous observation on the motorist;
-where a minor pedestrian is present then the driver must increase vigilance recognizing that the child may engage in unpredictable behavior.

Pedestrian Collisions-Walking Can Be Safe

Walking has been heavily promoted in recent years 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.
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. This is a very vulnerable 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 concentrations of .08 or higher.
    Distractions. A survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance indicated that 60% of pedestrians were doing other activities while walking such as texting or talking on a cell phone.
    Driver speed. Driver speed increases the potential for death. With that in mind many jurisdictions have decreased the speed limit in congested areas.

Some safety measures begun by localities are such things as pedestrian safety islands, longer pedestrian signal timing and more visible crosswalks. Increased education on pedestrian safety is also critical. Pedestrian rights and pedestrian safety must be emphasized with young drivers and inexperienced drivers. Without this, pedestrian collisions will simply continue to rise.

Pedestrians In DC Have Greater Protection

The city council in the District of Columbia recently enacted new legislation giving greater protection to pedestrians, bicycle riders and other persons using a non-motorized vehicle on the public highway.  The protection comes in the form of converting the contributory negligence law in the District of Columbia as to those users to what is called comparative negligence.

The specific language in the statute is:  “The negligence of a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other non-motorized user of a public highway involved in a collision with a motor vehicle shall not bar the plaintiff’s recovery in any civil action unless the plaintiff’s negligence is:

(1) A proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury and
(2) Greater than the aggregated total amount of negligence of all of the defendants that proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury.”
The overall effect of this is that contributory negligence on the part of the user is no longer a bar to recovery in a civil action.  In most other negligence claims in the District of Columbia any negligence on the part of the plaintiff that contributes in a substantial fashion to the injury is deemed to be a bar to that person’s claim.  That rule of law no longer applies to these particular users.
Some question exists as to whether or not this new statute which is found at DC Code § 50-2204.52 is retroactive.  The statute is not clear in that regard but it does indicate that it applies to “any civil action” which would certainly suggest that it applies to pending civil actions and also contemplated civil actions, even though the underlying accident may have occurred before the enactment of the statute.

Contact Brien Roche who has over 40 years of experience in personal injury litigation, serving the Fairfax, Va. and Washington D.C. area.

For more information on pedestrian accidents see also the page on Wikipedia dealing with pedestrians.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Pedestrian Accident Attorney

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation