Two pedestrians in different Hampton Roads cities suffered serious injuries after getting hit by cars on the morning of January 24, 2017. In neither case could police immediately determine why the collisions occurred, but each highlights risks people face while crossing a busy street.
The earlier wreck happened on Elm Street at the foot of the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge in Portsmouth, Virginia (VA). The injured pedestrian was reportedly walking beside another person as he approached the bridge. A sidewalk connects to a footpath that spans the bridge so people can cross the river even if they do not drive.
Later, a cab driver struck a man crossing the street at the corner of 60th Street and Copeland Avenue in Hampton. The intersection is in a cluster of warehouses and repair shops where drivers should expect to encounter people on foot during business hours.
The drivers remained at the scenes of both crashes. While the two male pedestrians required hospital treatment for their injuries, the person struck in Portsmouth sustained the slightly more minor wounds. His injuries were described as “life-threatening” in news reports. The Hampton pedestrian died from his injuries.
Virginia law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in most situations and to watch for people on foot at all times. While neither of the crashes in Portsmouth or Hampton happened in crosswalks or at stoplights, each did occur at a clearly marked corner. By statute, pedestrians can have right of way at otherwise uncontrolled intersections when they cross at a corner. Also, if the pedestrian who got hit while walking onto the bridge was on the sidewalk or otherwise out of the lane for vehicles at the time, the driver would be negligent for leaving the roadway.
Pedestrians’ safety is always at risk from inattentive or reckless drivers. Roads, walkways and intersections can only be designed to provide so much protection. Any person behind the wheel of a car or truck who fails to watch for and yield to people on foot pose serious risks to pedestrians’ health and lives. It remains to be seen if any kind of driver error or carelessness such as speeding, distraction or simply failing to keep a good lookout led to the pedestrian accidents in Portsmouth and Hampton. If it did, the injured victim and the family of the pedestrian who lost his life would have strong grounds for hiring a Virginia personal injury lawyer and wrongful death attorney to pursue insurance claims for medical expenses, lost wages, disability and other damages.