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Car Accidents Injuring Pedestrians and Cyclists

It’s an unfortunate fact – if a pedestrian crossing the street, or a bike rider (whether it be a bicycle or motorcycle), is hit by a car, the injuries can be severe and potentially life-altering. Some victims wind up suffering a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, multiple broken bones, torn muscles, or even wind up getting killed.

Why? Because of the differential in protection and weight of the parties involved. If a car slams into a pedestrian, the pedestrian is likely to suffer extensive personal injuries. If a car hits a motorcycle, the rider of the motor bike will likely take the brunt of the damage because they are fully exposed to the impact. Conversely, the driver of a car has layers of steel and other material to protect him, not to mention air bags and a seat belt.

If you or someone you know was hit by a car, this page was written to provide information about the legal rights available to pedestrians and operators of motorcycles, ATVs, scooters, etc.

Here are some more articles related to accidents involving cars and either bicycles, pedestrians, or ATVs:

Protections for Pedestrians

If you're a pedestrian who was hit by a car while you were crossing the street, you have statutory protections. According to Virginia law (specifically § 46.2-924 of the Virginia Code), the operator of a vehicle on a highway must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway at any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block 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; and at any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour. But keep in mind, the law does not protect a pedestrian who enters, or crosses, at an intersection in complete disregard for approaching traffic. 

Bike Riders Have the Same Rights on a Road as Any Other Vehicle

You’ve probably seen it on a busy road – someone on a bicycle having to maneuver to make way for an aggressive driver. Some drivers have a mistaken belief that a bicycle on a road is an inconvenience and is “lesser than” other cars on the road. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, cyclists and the operators of ATVs and motorcycles have the same legal rights as the driver of a car on a public road. For example, this is the language used on the Virginia Department of Transportation web site:

  • Every person riding a bicycle on a highway shall be subject to the provisions of the Code of Virginia section on motor vehicles and shall have the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle unless a provision clearly indicates otherwise.
  • Bicyclists and other users on sidewalks, shared use paths, and crosswalks have all the rights and duties of a pedestrian under the same circumstance.
  • Bicyclists and other users of shared use paths crossing highways at clearly marked crosswalks must come to a complete stop at stop signs prior to entering such crosswalk.
  • On shared use paths crossing highways in marked crosswalks without stop signs or other traffic control signals bicyclists and pedestrians are not required to come to a full stop but must not enter the road in disregard of approaching traffic.
  • Reference:   §§46.2-800, 46.2-904, 46.2-924

In addition to cyclists encountering aggressive drivers, there are some drivers who may be distracted or speeding and fail to see a cyclist or ATV operator. It is true that bicycles, motorcycles, ATV, etc. can be harder to see than a car, especially at certain times of day. Nevertheless, the driver of a car owes the same duties to a motor bike rider that they do to another car, truck, or SUV.

Here are some more articles related to accidents involving cars and either bicycles, pedestrians, or ATVs:

Our Virginia personal injury law firm has handled cases involving injured pedestrians and cyclists

Our attorneys have seen, firsthand, the pain and agony that can be inflicted on pedestrians and operators of motorcycles who were hit by a car. For example, we represented a married couple that was on a motorcycle when they were hit by a police vehicle. The at-fault driver drifted into our client’s lane and slammed into their motorcycle. The wife suffered multiple fractures to the bones of her arm, wrist, tibia, ankle and hand. She developed a chronic nonunion of one of the broken bones in her hand and was determined to be totally disabled from performing her job, which required repetitive heavy lifting. The husband sustained a severe pelvic fracture that was treated with an external fixation device.

Our team of attorneys recognized just how traumatic this accident was on both of our clients and worked tirelessly to secure a substantial settlement, an outcome which greatly pleased both clients. To read more about this case result, check out our case results page:

What to Do if You or Your Loved One was Hit by a Vehicle and Suffered a Serious Injury

It is important to act quickly after a serious accident. The sooner you take action, the sooner you can gain access to the accident report, identify witnesses (if any), file a claim, and so forth. This is why you should consider speaking to a Virginia personal injury attorney to determine the legal options that may be available to you. Even if it turns out that you don’t have a claim, you should take the time to speak with an attorney about your situation to find out your rights under the law. Most personal injury firms offer a no-cost consultation and our injury law firm follows that policy. What makes our firm different from others is that you will speak directly to an actual lawyer at our firm and everything you tell us during the consultation is kept confidential. 

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia