Pedestrian Accidents and Liability in Virginia
Every year dozens of pedestrians are injured and killed on the fast-moving highways of cities such as Norfolk, Newport News and Portsmouth.
In many cases pedestrians are hit because cars are driving too fast or a driver is inattentive or even drunk. There’s an old adage that “the pedestrian has the right of way.” It’s not always true but drivers can be liable for crashes involving pedestrians in a number of different scenarios.
Who is At Fault in Accidents Involving Pedestrians and Vehicles?
In some cases it can be clear who is at fault for a pedestrian accident. If a pedestrian suddenly and unexpectedly steps into a road and a car hits him, the driver is unlikely to be liable. Likewise if a pedestrian is mown down on a crosswalk, the driver will often be liable. There are a lot of shades of gray in between. The findings of a police report will be important because it should contain important indicators of fault such as how fast the car was traveling.
When a driver is clearly at fault, the pedestrian will usually be able to recover compensation from the driver’s insurance policy. But it will be harder to make a claim in other circumstances.
Virginia’s Laws of Contributory Negligence
The majority of US states follow some version of a comparative negligence rule when an injured person shares some amount of fault for causing or contributing to the underlying accident. Under a “pure comparative negligence” rule, the person who was injured stands to receive compensation from any other at-fault party, but the injured person’s own damages award will be cut by a percentage that is equal to their share of the fault.
Unfortunately, some states including Virginia and Maryland, have a contributory negligence rule which means if a party is even one percent responsible for an accident, there is a complete bar to recovery.
Contributory negligence is an all-or-nothing system. If you are at all to blame, you won’t be able to file a liability claim against any other at-fault party. So if a car-pedestrian accident takes place in Virginia or three other contributory negligence states, and both parties are partially at fault, both would be responsible for their own injuries and other damages stemming from the accident. They could file a first-party claim through their own insurance coverage, for example, but one party could not pursue a lawsuit against the other.
See our Virginia pedestrian accident attorneys page for more information. If you have been hurt as a pedestrian or have lost a loved one, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077 for a free consultation.