A collision in Chesapeake, Virginia (VA), left a pedestrian dead on the night of December 3, 2015. A similar incident critically injured a man crossing a street in Newport News, VA, on Dec, 6, 2015. Neither wreck brought immediate charges against the drivers who struck the pedestrians, leaving significant questions about the causes of the collisions.
The fatal pedestrian crash in Chesapeake occurred at the intersection of Canal Drive and South Military Highway shortly before 10 pm. The driver stayed on the scene, and police opened an investigation. No findings from that inquiry were publicly reported by the time a pedestrian was struck and severely injured at 49th Street and Jefferson Street on the Peninsula at around 7 pm the following Sunday. Again, the driver remained to speak with emergency responders.
Both intersections where the crashes happened are well marked. The one in Chesapeake is also controlled by traffic lights, which make clear when a pedestrian has right of way. If a driver fails to yield to a pedestrian crossing with the light and at a corner or in a crosswalk, the driver may be at fault for any accident.
Another issue is whether the drivers who hit the pedestrians could see them in the roadway. Visibility is reduced at night, but that raises the duty to watch carefully for dangerous situations and to take appropriate actions to avoid collisions.
A third consideration is that criminal liability for causing a crash and injuries or loss of life is legally distinct from civil liability. The proof needed for civil and criminal claims are different. For instance, a negligent driver who honestly but negligently did not spot a person crossing a street legally may not be charged with a crime but may still be found responsible for settling insurance claims from the victim or the victim's family.
While these questions and others are being answered, the victims of the pedestrian crashes in Chesapeake and Newport News may want to consult with an experienced Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorney to ensure their interests and rights are represented and protected.