When a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle while crossing the street, the ramifications and bodily harm are often quite severe. In fact, many crosswalk accidents involving a pedestrian hit by a car or truck result in the pedestrian losing their life or being left permanently damaged. When it comes to crosswalk accidents in Virginia, one of the central issues is related to knowing who had the right of way and whether that right of way was ignored.
This article focuses on pedestrian rights in Virginia and explains when a pedestrian has the right of way at an intersection or crosswalk. This article will also discuss what to do if you or a loved one was hit by a vehicle while crossing the street and that collision left you seriously injured.
When Pedestrians Have the Right of Way
First, let’s focus on an important provision with the Virginia Code relating to pedestrians that provides them with the right of way when the vehicle speed limit is 35 miles per hour (mph) or less on a Virginia road or highway. Virginia Code Section 46.2-924 specifies that motor vehicles must slow and come to a stop when a pedestrian is crossing at a marked crosswalk, as long as the speed limit is 35 mph or less.
Section 46.2-924. Drivers to stop for pedestrians; installation of certain signs; penalty.
A. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway by stopping and remaining stopped until such pedestrian has passed the lane in which the vehicle is stopped:
- At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at midblock or at the end of any block;
- At any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block; or
- At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway where the speed limit is not more than 35 miles per hour.
B. When a vehicle is stopped pursuant to subsection A, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from an adjacent lane or from behind the stopped vehicle shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.
C. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, at intersections or crosswalks where the movement of traffic is being regulated by law-enforcement officers or traffic control devices, the driver shall yield according to the direction of the law-enforcement officer or device.
No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.
The drivers of vehicles entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change their course, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously.
Pedestrians crossing highways at intersections shall at all times have the right-of-way over vehicles making turns into the highways being crossed by the pedestrians.
Real Life Example: Our law firm is representing a client who resides in Virginia Beach and was struck by a vehicle in a marked crosswalk crossing Pacific Avenue. Since the speed limit was 35 mph, the driver who struck the pedestrian had a duty to stop. Failing to stop is an indication that the driver breached this duty and is therefore liable for our client’s harms and losses.
What Pedestrians Cannot Do
It is important to understand that a pedestrian does not always have the right of way, even if they are attempting at a marked crosswalk. There are specific limitations and scenarios where a pedestrian does not have the right of way. For example, Virginia law requires pedestrians not to jaywalk (i.e. attempting to cross at a crosswalk when the light is red and advising the pedestrian to stop). Virginia Code Section 46.2-923 describes the scenarios of when a pedestrian can cross at a crosswalk and when they cannot.
Section 46.2-923. How and where pedestrians are allowed to cross highways.
A. When crossing highways, pedestrians shall not carelessly or maliciously interfere with the orderly passage of vehicles. They shall cross, wherever possible, only at intersections or marked crosswalks. Where intersections contain no marked crosswalks, pedestrians shall not be guilty of negligence as a matter of law for crossing at any such intersection or between intersections when crossing by the most direct route.
B. The governing body of any town or city or the governing body of a county authorized by law to regulate traffic may by ordinance permit pedestrians to cross an intersection diagonally when all traffic entering the intersection has been halted by lights, other traffic control devices, or by a law-enforcement officer.
C. No law-enforcement officer shall stop a pedestrian for a violation of this section. No evidence discovered or obtained as the result of a stop in violation of this subsection, including evidence discovered or obtained with the person’s consent, shall be admissible in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding.
When it comes to a pedestrian crossing at a crosswalk managed by an electronic control signal, there is a specific Virginia Code provision detailing what should be done to adhere to the signal’s indicators. The relevant provision can be found in Virginia Code Section 46.2-925.
Section 46.2-925. Pedestrian control signals.
Whenever pedestrian control signals exhibiting the words, numbers, or symbols meaning “Walk” or “Don’t Walk” are in place such signals shall indicate and apply to pedestrians as follows:
Walk. –Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the highway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right-of-way by the drivers of all vehicles.
Don’t Walk. –No pedestrian shall start to cross the highway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed his crossing on the Walk signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island and remain there while the Don’t Walk signal is showing.
As mentioned earlier, Virginia has instituted a jaywalking prohibition. The specific code provision setting forth this prohibition is below. It basically says that pedestrians should not cross except at intersections and especially should not cross wear the driver of a car or truck cannot see them and they are obscured for some reason.
46.2-926. Pedestrians stepping into highway where they cannot be seen.
A. No pedestrian shall step into a highway open to moving vehicular traffic at any point between intersections where his presence would be obscured from the vision of drivers of approaching vehicles by a vehicle or other obstruction at the curb or side. The foregoing prohibition shall not apply to a pedestrian stepping into a highway to board a bus or to enter a safety zone, in which event he shall cross the highway only at right angles.
B. No law-enforcement officer shall stop a pedestrian for a violation of this section. No evidence discovered or obtained as the result of a stop in violation of this subsection, including evidence discovered or obtained with the person’s consent, shall be admissible in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding.
Injured While Crossing the Street? Speak to an Experienced Virginia Beach Crosswalk Accident Lawyer
Virginia law relating to pedestrians who suffer personal injuries requires a careful analysis of both the actions of the pedestrian, and the actions of the driver of the car or truck. Virginia still has an antiquated rule on what is called contributory negligence and basically means that if the injured person or pedestrian materially contribute to causing their own injury, they cannot recover where 46 other states in the United states allow for comparing the negligence of the injured person to the motor vehicle operator. This is the reason why an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer should review the facts of your potential case and determine if it makes sense to proceed with a claim. There is no risk to contacting our law firm since we offer free, confidential case evaluations to all prospective clients.