A Norfolk, Virginia (VA), pedestrian wound up hospitalized on Christmas Eve 2017 after getting struck by a police cruiser. The crash happened at the intersection of N. Military Highway and Longdale Drive at around 11 am on December 24.
A police department press release confirmed that the officer collided with the pedestrian while attempting to turn left from Longdale onto Military Highway. The nature of the pedestrian’s injuries were not disclosed to the public, but authorities did not consider the injuries life-threatening.
It is unclear if the officer who hit the man crossing the road will face charges. Virginia law does, however, indicate that the pedestrian most likely had the right of way. While the roadway where this wreck is not marked with a crosswalk, section 46.2-924 of the Virginia Code states the following regarding when a driver must yield to a person crossing a state highway:
- When a sidewalk ends at the intersection,
- When the driver is merging or turning onto the highway from a stop signal, and
- When the pedestrian has entered the highway before the driver started to turn or merge.
A sidewalk runs alongside Longdale Drive, the officer faced a stop sign and there is no dispute that the officer operating the Norfolk Police cruiser was turning left.
Even if the officer does end up charged with failing to yield right of way, the injured pedestrian may find it difficult to file and collect on a personal injury insurance claim. A legal principle known as sovereign immunity often shields on-duty police officers and other state or city employees from legal actions. The immunity does not always apply, though, and an experienced and dedicated Virginia personal injury lawyer who has helped many other injured pedestrians will know how to argue against the application of sovereign immunity. When his health permits him to do so, the pedestrian hit and injured on N. Military Highway should discuss his legal rights and options with a plaintiff’s attorney.
This Christmas Eve pedestrian crash in Norfolk should remind all drivers to be especially alert to people crossing street during this holiday season. The legal and personal duties to share the road with people on foot never go away, but all drivers should want to do everything they can to ensure that everyone enjoys a safe and happy end of 2017 and start to 2018.