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Virginia/Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Discuss The Law applying to Pedestrian & Crosswalk Accidental Injuries

 Based on common law in Virginia and in many states, a pedestrian has a right-of-way at a street corner when crossing under circumstances where a car/auto driver has a clear view of the pedestrian. As a matter of fact, in Virginia and many other states persons in a crosswalk are protected by the law just like they are walking across a controlled intersection with a traffic light in the sense that a motorist must yield to any person in a crosswalk or who is crossing near the corner whether or not the crosswalk has illuminated pedestrian indicators.  In our recent settlement there was no painted crosswalk, but the driver of a car admitted that he looked down and when he looked back up the pedestrian was simply there.  That is driver negligence.


Click here to learn about Virginia laws that apply to pedestrians injured in a crosswalk.


It was clear that the driver failed to keep a proper lookout.  We settled this case for the policy limits of insurance available between the driver of the car, and our client’s own uninsured motorist insurance coverage, which provide additional insurance coverage in this case. 


Claiming uninsured motorist coverage does not affect your own insurance rates when an accident is wholly caused by another driver, and client’s often ask us about that.  Here are some of the laws that apply to pedestrians and to crosswalks in Virginia and many other states follow these or similar legal rules:


1.     A pedestrian has the right-of-way when crossing a highway or street within any clearly marked crosswalk or at any regular pedestrian crossing at the end of a block; by the most direct route, at any intersection where the maximum speed limit is not more than 35 miles per hour.


2.       The pedestrian’s right-of-way begins on one side of the street and continues until he has completed his crossing in the crosswalk or at the regular pedestrian crossing.


3.       When a pedestrian has the right-of-way, the driver of the vehicle has a duty to change course, or slow down, or come to a complete stop, if necessary, to permit the pedestrian to cross safely and expeditiously.


4.        A pedestrian has a duty to use ordinary care to keep a lookout for motor vehicles.


My partner, Jim Lewis, settled a case of serious personal injuries last year for two pedestrians crossing a road in a painted, marked crosswalk in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In that case, the driver who struck the pedestrians failed to see them even though they were in the marked crosswalk.  Jim checked Virginia law on this point and found that the pedestrians in the crosswalk essentially must be treated as if it was a traffic light with a red signal because motorists were clearly required to yield to pedestrians in a marked crosswalk.


Also in 2007, I represented a young lady who was walking with her bike across a busy highway when she was struck by a car.  In that pedestrian case, she was walking her bike in a painted crosswalk across a four lane, 45 m.p.h. highway and she was clearly visible, and accordingly she had the right-of-way against the driver who was actually turning from a side road onto the highway and struck our client while she was in the crosswalk. In that case our client had substantial bruising and other injuries which interfered with her daily activities for six months.  We were able to obtain a very good settlement for our bicycling client.


Pedestrians who are hit by cars or trucks obviously have a much higher chance of being seriously injured or killed because they are not protected by the frame of a car or SUV.  On the other hand, persons that are crossing highways not at a marked crosswalk sometimes can be guilty of “jay walking” and pedestrians forfeit many of the good legal protections they have when they do not cross at a marked crosswalk or near the street corner.


Pedestrians who walk along a road or highway must walk on the left against traffic, not with traffic.  Conversely, bicycle riders and moped operators are required to travel with the lane of traffic along the right side of the road. 


We have represented pedestrians who have suffered serious injuries in a wide variety of pedestrian-car, or truck cases.  If we can help you or a family member analyze whether your personal injury was caused by the negligence of a car or truck driver, please contact us through the contact forms on our website or call our toll free number today.


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