The alarming spike in Virginia pedestrian deaths in recent years has myriad causes: larger vehicles inundating the roads, the urban poor moving to the suburbs and a health-conscious population’s growth.
The numbers are now up to the 120 to 150 range, compared to previous years falling within 70 to 80. The Virginia Highway Safety Office revealed 1,399 pedestrian accidents in 2021, a 12.6% increase from 2020. Accordingly, there were 125 pedestrian deaths and 1,325 pedestrian injuries, 413 of which incurred severe injuries.
So, if you frequent Virginia roadways as a pedestrian and collide with a vehicle, how would you know if you have the right of way?
Under the Code of Virginia, any driver on a highway must yield or give up their right of way if pedestrians are crossing. The vehicle must come to a stop or remain stopped until pedestrians have fully crossed the lane. Here are situations covered by the state law:
- Any clearly marked crosswalk, whether midblock or intersection
- Any intersection with a speed limit not exceeding 35 miles per hour, whether a crosswalk exists or not
- Any regular pedestrian crossing, including the end of a block’s adjacent sidewalk
- Upon the direction of law enforcement officers or traffic control devices
- Any sidewalk where vehicles are not allowed
Unfortunately, even if you responsibly use the roads, you may still fall victim to a pedestrian accident due to a reckless driver. Drunk driving, distracted driving and driving beyond the speed limit are some of the most common negligent behaviors.
Further, proving fault in Virginia may not be as simple as you hoped. As a contributory negligence state, the state doesn’t allow you to collect compensation if proven that you contributed in any form to the accident.
Walking your way to safety
Between you and the driver, you’re more likely to incur injuries, disfigurement and death because of the vehicle’s sheer size. Your case may quickly become complex as soon as insurance companies become involved. Seek the aid of a legal counsel to ensure that you’re not denied your rights and fair and full compensation.