Our Virginia personal injury client was a student at Old Dominion University when a distracted driver hit and injured him as he crossed Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk, VA. The at-fault driver then fled the scene. Fortunately, she was identified and taken into custody later the same day after a repair shop technician alerted police to suspicious damage to the front end and windshield of her vehicle.
The young pedestrian suffered an orbital fracture near his right eye, other facial injuries and numerous cuts and bruises from being struck by the vehicle with enough force to throw him into the air. He spent more than a week in the hospital, during which he missed final exams for the fall semester and had his family travel from out of state to tend him.
Key Legal Strategy
Our Virginia personal injury attorney knew she had a strong case to make on behalf of the injured pedestrian. The at-fault driver had committed a hit-and-run violation. The driver’s own statements to the police confirmed that she had seen the young man crossing the street before looking away and pulling out of a parking lot. The medical bills the ODU student incurred because of the driver’s negligence and carelessness, as well the disruption to the student’s life and studies, could not be denied.
Still, the insurance company for the at-fault driver attempted to avoid liability by claiming that the pedestrian was partially at fault for the crash because he entered the street at a location that lacked a marked crosswalk. Insurers often raise the possibility of contributory negligence because Virginia law makes being in any way responsible for causing one’s own injuries a bar to obtaining insurance settlements.
However, Virginia law also gives right of way to pedestrians who cross the street at corners, as our Virginia personal injury client did. Drivers must also yield to pedestrians on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or lower, as it is where this accident occurred. Further, drivers who cause hit-and-run collisions rarely avoid liability when they get identified and taken to court.
The insurance company soon realized that it could not succeed with its contributory negligence defense and entered into settlement negotiations. That process resulted in our client receiving $67,500.
Pedestrians depend on drivers paying close attention, keeping a proper lookout and respecting right of way. Additionally, no driver who causes a crash with injuries should ever be able to escape liability by leaving the scene. We are glad that we could hold this distracted hit-and-run driver accountable.
Court: Norfolk Circuit Court, Norfolk, VA
Staff: Staff attorney