What Happened

A fatal hit and run accident on March 21, 2013 has sparked outrage in a community in northeast Washington D.C. Ruby Whitfield, 71, was struck while in the crosswalk after she left a church meeting in the 1100 block of Florida Avenue NE. According to police when Whitfield was struck, the vehicle dragged her body at least 82 feet down the road. The reason for the outrage from the community is that there is no traffic light at the intersection where Whitfield was killed. According to the pastor at new Samaritan Baptist Church, the congregation has been fighting to have a traffic light installed since 2003, after another church member was struck and dragged by a hit and run driver. The city has installed pedestrian warning, and speed warning signs at the intersection, but the community states it’s not enough.

Here is a news video about the pedestrian accident on Florida Avenue NE.


The Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers’ Perspective

The lack of action taken by the city to protect the citizens that attend the church is disconcerting to hear about. In Virginia (VA) when a pedestrian is crossing a highway in a clearly marked crosswalk and the speed limit is less than 35 miles per hour, the driver of any automobile approaching that crosswalk is required to change course, slow down or come to a complete stop, if that maneuver is necessary to allow the pedestrian to cross safely. This is a special law that offers extra protection to pedestrians who are crossing streets in clearly marked crosswalks. If the driver fled the scene knowingly having struck this person, this may constitute gross negligence, and may even support a punitive damage claim.

In a previous hit and run case a client and her husband were headed to go hunting early in the morning. On their way they were struck by the defendant who was likely drunk at the time. The defendant fled the scene, and was never found. Our firm launched our own investigation and found the identity of the man. The company that insured the vehicle did not want to pay any damages since there was no proof to place the defendant in the car. However we were able to convince the insurance company to pay, and obtained a sizable settlement for our client.

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