Kendall Law Firm Blog

Can the Pedestrian Be at Fault in a Car-Pedestrian Accident in Virginia?




  |  posted by Kendall Law Firm   |   Car Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents

pedestrian hit by a car lays on the floor

In a car vs. pedestrian accident, the pedestrian almost always loses and suffers the brunt of the injuries. As a Virginia personal injury lawyer, I have helped many injured pedestrians obtain compensation for injuries they have suffered because of negligent drivers.

But sometimes it is the pedestrian who is at fault in a car accident. Pedestrians are expected to follow Virginia traffic laws, some of which apply specifically to them.

Determining pedestrian accident liability is particularly important in Virginia because Virginia follows a strict doctrine known as “pure contributory negligence.” This legal standard says that if the injured person contributed in any way to their injury, they are not eligible to obtain compensation for their losses from another party involved in the accident.

If you have been hit by a car and seriously injured in Virginia, you should speak to a personal injury attorney experienced with Virginia car and pedestrian accidents as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer at Kendall Law Firm can investigate your accident to determine how we can mitigate potential evidence against you and keep the possibility of you recovering a monetary settlement alive. Kendall Law Firm only represents injured accident victims. We offer a free case consultation with no strings attached to prospective clients. Contact us today.

What Virginia Traffic Laws Require of Pedestrians

In most cases, drivers are expected to yield for pedestrians. Under Virginia law (Va. Code § 46.2-924), drivers must stop or slow down for pedestrians who are:

  • Using crosswalks
  • Crossing between the ends of sidewalks on each side of the street at the end of a block (as if the roadway was an extension of the sidewalk)
  • Crossing at intersections on roads with speed limits under 35 mph.

Drivers are required to obey traffic signals and law enforcement officers. Of course, motorists are expected to take available measures to avoid hitting a pedestrian, even if the pedestrian is in the road illegally.

But there are instances where a pedestrian who has been hit by a car or truck will likely be found to have been at fault for the accident. Additional statutes (Va. Code § 46.2-923 through § 46.2-934) address pedestrian responsibilities. For example, Virginia law states that “When crossing highways, pedestrians shall not carelessly or maliciously interfere with the orderly passage of vehicles.”

Among pedestrians’ legal responsibilities in Virginia, they must:

  • Use sidewalks where they are available
  • Where there is no sidewalk, walk on the shoulder of the road on either side or on the far-left side of the road if they must walk on the surface of the road
  • Obey crossing signals such as “Walk” and “Don’t Walk.”
  • Yield to motorists when crossing a road where there is no crosswalk
  • Not step into the road where they may not be seen by a driver because of other vehicles, structures, foliage, etc.
  • Not linger in the road when boarding a bus or another vehicle or loiter on highways or bridges.

A pedestrian who violates a traffic law and gets hit by a car may be held responsible and issued a ticket. If the pedestrian stepped suddenly in front of an oncoming vehicle and caused the driver to swerve and crash, causing injuries, the driver may bring a civil lawsuit against the pedestrian who caused the accident.

A pedestrian accident lawyer from Kendall Law can help you assess whether to pursue a claim and will aggressively press a case on your behalf if a viable claim exists. Personal injury compensation comes from insurance coverage. Most cases are settled out of court through negotiations with insurers.

How Do You Demonstrate Fault in a Pedestrian Accident?

Virginia personal injury law adheres to a strict doctrine known as “pure contributory negligence,” which says that if you contributed in any way to your injury, no other party involved in the accident can be legally compelled to compensate you.

Because of this, the injured party has a dual-task in a car/pedestrian accident claim that goes to court:

  • The injured party must provide evidence that demonstrates the other party’s negligence and liability for the crash and injuries, and
  • The injured party also must persuade an insurer or a jury that any allegations against them are false.

There are multiple sources of evidence that may demonstrate liability for a car accident. In urban areas, an accident may be captured on security cameras, red-light cameras, and or even a cellphone camera.

When Kendall Law Firm investigates a car accident, we seek:

  • Police accident report, which may include diagrams of the crash and other basic information
  • Medical records detailing our client’s injuries
  • Witness statements from drivers’, passengers’ and others involved as well as witnesses’ photos or videos
  • Photos of the crash scene
  • Vehicle damage
  • Debris at the crash scene
  • Vehicles’ “black box” event data recorder (EDR) readouts
  • Driver cell phone records, which may indicate distracted driving
  • Other driver personal data, such as bank card use, which could indicate evidentiary activity, such as drinking
  • Social media, where a driver or passenger may post comments about an accident.

A pedestrian’s injuries and damage to a vehicle can reveal a lot to an experienced car crash investigator. Vehicle damage will show how the pedestrian was struck, such as damage indicating the pedestrian’s body striking the front and hood of the vehicle, which would knock the individual forward and to the ground or, at high speeds, toward the vehicle’s windshield.

The severity of the injuries in a pedestrian accident depends on numerous factors, including vehicle speed, the angle of impact of the vehicle upon the pedestrian, the center of gravity of the pedestrian, the part of the body that first comes into contact with the vehicle, the part of the vehicle the pedestrian impacts first, and the vehicle design. Most injuries arising from being hit by a vehicle and thrown to the ground are trauma to the head, legs, and pelvis.

In complex cases, we may work with a crash reconstruction specialist who applies forensic techniques and principles of engineering and physics to determine how an accident occurred. Their presentation of graphics, animation, and expert testimony can be very persuasive to a jury.

As your attorney, we will work to build a persuasive case that you deserve compensation. We work to discredit any evidence against you. Working with an attorney experienced with car accidents in Virginia offers the best chance of reaching a satisfactory outcome to your injury claim.

Contact a VA Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today

If you have been hit by a car, truck, or motorcycle and seriously injured in Charlottesville, Winchester, Harrisonburg, Woodstock, or anywhere in central Virginia, contact a pedestrian accident attorney at Kendall Law today. Take advantage of a free case evaluation with no strings attached. If we can pursue a claim for you, we will build a solid case and negotiate aggressively to recover the compensation you deserve.

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Get a free consultation today. Call us before you speak with the insurance adjuster.