There has been a recent rash of pedestrians getting hit and killed in Reston, VA.
Fairfax County Police reported that on June 14, 2018, a 63-year-old man was struck and killed by a car when attempting to cross Baron Cameron Avenue. The driver of the vehicle allegedly braked and tried to swerve, but was unable to avoid hitting the elderly gentleman.
In late May 2018, a 71-year-old woman was also struck and killed in Reston, VA while attempting to cross Reston Parkway at Bluemont Way just outside of Reston Town Center. After her death, the Fairfax County Police Department created a pedestrian safety campaign with informational signs at busy intersections.
Under 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:
- 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;
- 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.
On the other hand, the law also says that “no pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.”
It is important to note, Virginia follows the doctrine of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence means that if the plaintiff (i.e., injured person) is even 1% responsible for causing their injuries due to their negligence, their recovery is reduced to $0. Virginia is one of only a handful of jurisdictions to follow this harsh rule. It makes it very difficult for pedestrians to recover on an injury claim. If the pedestrian crossed when it was not safe to do so, by being neglect on their part, the recovery is $0. If the pedestrian ran into traffic despite fast-moving vehicles, the recovery could be $0 due to their negligence.
Under Virginia Code § 46.2-928, “Pedestrians shall not use the roadways for travel, except when necessary to do so because of the absence of sidewalks which are reasonably suitable and passable for their use. If they walk on the hard surface, or the main traveled portion of the roadway, they shall keep to the extreme left side or edge thereof, or where the shoulders of the highway are of sufficient width to permit, they may walk on either shoulder thereof.” Unfortunately, in many instances, pedestrians do not heed this warning and find themselves in dangerous situations.
Virginia’s legislature is currently considering a distracted driving bill, HB 181. This Bill would make it illegal for drivers to use cell phones that are not mounted somewhere in their cars. This bill passed the state Senate on in March, but it was subject of debate. The Bill must go back to the House of Delegates for final approval because of changes the state Senate made. This new law could be a big boost for pedestrian safety in Virginia.
Because of the complexities of Virginia law, it is crucial to hire an attorney who is familiar with the requirements vehicle drivers and pedestrians must follow. Merely alleging that a vehicle struck a pedestrian is not enough to succeed on a legal claim. If you or someone you know has been injured by a car while acting as a pedestrian in Virginia, contact KBA at 855-281-2571.