An unusual accident in Downtown Norfolk late on the afternoon of February 11, 2018, sent a pedestrian to the hospital with critical injuries. According to Norfolk Police and witnesses, an SUV driver lost control, ran off the road and struck the man who was standing outside a restaurant near the intersection of Granby Street and Plume Street. The force of the impact knocked the victim into the street.
The injured pedestrian has been identified only as a bartender at Jack Brown's Burger and Beer Joint. The driver has also not been named in news reports, but police confirmed that they intend to charge the person.
At a minimum driving onto a sidewalk is illegal except in very specific circumstances. The relevant state statute, section 46.2-902 of the Virginia Code, reads,
No person shall ride or drive any vehicle other than (i) an emergency vehicle …, (ii) a vehicle engaged in snow or ice removal and control operations, (iii) a wheel chair or wheel chair conveyance, whether self-propelled or otherwise, (iv) a bicycle, (v) an electric personal assistive mobility device, or (vi) an electric power-assisted bicycle on the sidewalks of any county, city, or town of the Commonwealth.
The nearly fatal result of this crash on the sidewalk in Norfolk justifies the prohibition on driving on sidewalks. Fortunately, the situation happens rarely.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles recorded 1,718 crashes involving pedestrians during 2015. While those collisions left 78 people dead and another 1,718 individuals injured, just 38 of the incidents involved a car or truck running off the road.
Pedestrians can, then, usually feel safe on sidewalks, on highway shoulders and in medians. But the exceptions to that rule have tragic consequences.
As Virginia personal injury lawyers with offices on the Norfolk-Virginia Beach line, we have helped several pedestrians who were struck by drivers while using sidewalks or while standing in parking lots. The reality is that a person on foot has no protection from serious injuries other than the safe driving of people in vehicles.
We wish the person hit and hurt outside the restaurant in Downtown Norfolk a full and quick recovery. We also urge all drivers to keep their vehicles under control and on the pavement. Doing so will prevent injuries and may save lives.