Student Struck by Car in Pedestrian Crosswalk, Wrongful Death Claim Settled - Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

RESULTS: $100,000 [Limit of Insurance]

 COURT: Fairfax County and Alexandria, VA Circuit Courts

 DATE: 2022/2023


ATTORNEY: Richard N. Shapiro

STAFF: Paula S., Paralegal



In the early morning hours during a school day in November 2022, a high school student was crossing Columbia Pike Highway in Fairfax County on her way to school. It was a clear, dry morning. She was walking in a marked pedestrian crosswalk across the four-lane highway with an extra left-turn lane, but the intersection was not controlled by any traffic control lights, only yellow posted pedestrian crossing signs. A negligent car driver drove in the far left through lane, past a couple of stopped vehicles waiting in the left turn lane, and failed to see the pedestrian in the crosswalk, violently striking the student, tragically causing her immediate death as a result of her multiple traumatic injuries. Her family promptly retained our Virginia pedestrian injury attorneys to seek justice.


In Virginia, the state follows the outdated contributory negligence law that if an injured person contributes in any material way to their personal injuries or contributes to their own death, they cannot recover. Our position was simple: the car operator had a duty to stop and yield to any pedestrian in a marked crosswalk, especially since cars were stopped in a lane of travel already, and since the speed limit was 35 m.p.h. at this area, as discussed below. The primary Virginia Code statute on this issue follows:


§46.2-924. Drivers to stop for pedestrians; installation of certain signs; penalty.

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.


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.


We have represented families in many civil wrongful death situations.  Our role is to obtain maximum compensation under the Virginia wrongful death statutes (click here for full information on Virginia’s wrongful death laws). However, we cannot force police or detectives investigating the criminal/traffic side of the case to bring specific charges against a car operator, which at times confuses our clients.

Unbelievably, the Fairfax County police chose not to charge the motor vehicle operator with involuntary manslaughter or a serious traffic offense of any kind. This was despite the fact that we contacted the detective on this case and pointed him to the specific pedestrian and motor vehicle statute in Virginia directly on point, and the provision requiring car drivers to stop and yield to pedestrians in a marked crosswalk when any other vehicle is already stopped. The detective explained that since the vehicles stopped were in the left turn lane, not a straight highway lane at the crosswalk, the provision about “vehicles already stopped” did not apply in his opinion. In our view, the detective was plainly wrong, a vehicle stopped at the crosswalk is what the statute says, it makes no difference whether a driver was in a turn lane or not.

THE RESULTS: $100,000 [Limit of Insurance]