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Who’s Liable When a Pedestrian Runs Into Traffic?

Few people hit by a car or truck while crossing a street walk away from the collision unharmed. Serious injuries almost always result, and deaths are common. This is why both pedestrians and drivers must do all they can to prevent such accidents.

Sadly, some crashes cannot be avoided. A recent example of this comes from Front Royal, Virginia, (VA). At around 8 pm on April 20, 2014, a 6-year-old kindergartner died after getting hit by Toyota 4-Runner in front of a McDonald's on South Street. According to NVDaily.com, the young boy ran out into traffic after he became separated from his family, who were shopping for groceries nearby. The accident did not occur at a crosswalk, and police determined that the driver was not speeding, distracted or impaired by alcohol or drugs.

 

As tragic as the pedestrian accident was, it was truly an accident. The driver will not face charges, and it is unlikely that the boy's family will be able to succeed in filing a wrongful death claim in civil court. So-called "dart out" accidents usually do not leave at-fault drivers liable for causing injuries or taking lives. Which is not to say that the person behind the wheel will not struggle with guilt and remorse. No one comes out of events like the one in Front Royal happy.

Realizing some good from the fatal pedestrian crash may be possible, however. The first lesson parents should take to heart is that teaching young children to cross streets only at corners, in crosswalks, with the light and when accompanied by an adult is imperative. Second, the tragedy should remind every driver to remain alert for people stepping off curbs at all times, especially in areas with shopping centers and fast food restaurants.

EJL

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