What Laws Apply If You Are a Pedestrian And Are Hit By a Car in Virginia? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

You are walking along Atlantic Avenue headed to the water in Virginia Beach. You decide to cross the street at a crosswalk. Suddenly, a distracted driver fails to yield and hits you. Unfortunately, this scenario is quite common in Virginia. For example, in 2015, there were 1,704 pedestrian-related motor vehicle accidents in Virginia. Nearly 80 of these accidents resulted in a loss of life. Pedestrian accidents involving pedestrians comprise 10.4 percent of all traffic fatalities. If you or a loved one was hit by a vehicle while crossing the street, you may be able to pursue financial restitution from the negligent driver for your harms and losses. 

Traffic Laws Intended to Protect Pedestrians

Under Virginia law, a driver operating a motor vehicle is expected to use reasonable care and obey traffic laws to ensure the safety of others. This includes a driver’s duty to stop for pedestrians crossing the street. According to Virginia Code § 46.2-924:

The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway: 1) at any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block; 2) at any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block; 3) 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. 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.

If a driver fails to obey this law and hits a pedestrian, they violated their duty of care and should be held responsible for your injuries. The damages that can be pursued through a personal injury claim include your incurred medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and potentially punitive damages (a.k.a. punishment damages).

But you also have to be aware of Virginia’s archaic doctrine known as contributory negligence. This doctrine established that if a plaintiff contributed to causing their injury, even tangentially, they can be barred from recovering monetary damages through a personal injury claim. If the negligent driver’s insurance company raises this defense, you need to be sure you have an experienced Virginia Beach car accident attorney on your side. 


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