Crosswalks and DC Pedestrian Accident Cases

Crosswalks are commonplace in DC because of the urban nature of the District of Columbia. With that said, it is important to remember that crosswalks merely indicate the natural path from curb to curb at an intersection and can be both marked, by lines on the pavement, and unmarked, where there are no lines.  While crosswalks may seem unimportant, they can have a big impact if you are involved in pedestrian accident.

The following is more on crosswalks in DC, and how they could potentially impact your injury claim. To learn more call and schedule a consultation with a DC pedestrian accident lawyer.

How Crosswalks Change Driver Behavior

Marked crosswalks can change driver behavior because a driver should see the crosswalk and the driver should anticipate that a pedestrian may be using the crosswalk. Likewise, if a driver has a green light to pass through the intersection, the driver has the right to assume that no pedestrians are going to walk out into the street in front of the vehicle. If the driver intends to make a right or left turn at the intersection, the driver should likewise be on the look-out for any pedestrians walking parallel to his or her direction of travel in the crosswalk before beginning to make the left or right turn.

Ways Pedestrian Accidents May Occur in Crosswalks

Accidents involving pedestrians happen for any number of reasons. They can occur when the vehicle is attempting to make a left or a right-hand turn at the intersection, and the driver does not see a pedestrian crossing the street. They can also occur due to a pedestrian’s failure to observe the traffic control device controlling the pedestrian’s travel, such as a walk signal.

Rainy or inclement weather can also contribute to a pedestrian accident. In that instance, a pedestrian may be using a hood or an umbrella, which may affect the pedestrian’s ability to keep a proper look-out for vehicles. Similarly, when it is dark or rainy, the operator of the motor vehicle may simply fail to see a pedestrian, who is lawfully traveling across the street in the crosswalk.

Pedestrian Accidents Involving Drivers Turning Right on Red

When a vehicle is trying to make a right turn on red, it is possible to have a situation where a pedestrian is lawfully allowed to cross the street in the crosswalk and at the same time a vehicle is making a legal right turn on red. There, generally, it is incumbent upon the driver to yield the right of way to the pedestrian.

If the vehicle has already entered the intersection that was making the turn, then generally speaking the pedestrian should yield the right of way and allow the vehicle to clear the intersection. Likewise, if the pedestrian has already entered the intersection in the crosswalk, than generally, the vehicle turning right-on-red should stop and yield the right of way to the pedestrian. In that circumstance, each person has a legal right to be in the intersection and each person must cooperate with the other in order to travel through that intersection safely.

Other Situations Where Crosswalk Accidents Could Occur

Pedestrian accidents occur for countless reasons. Often times, accidents occur due to a few small circumstances that all lead up to the incident.  For example, being unfamiliar with an area, along with bad weather, and darkness of night are, seemingly, innocuous circumstances, but can culminate in a pedestrian collision.

Generally speaking, collisions involving pedestrians are not the result of some intentional behavior.  So, in essence, pedestrian collisions occur due to someone’s inattentiveness – either the drive, the pedestrian, or both. When a vehicle is making a right turn on a red light, it creates a scenario where a vehicle is going to be crossing over a crosswalk.  This is the same crosswalk pedestrians are supposed to be using to cross the street.  So, it is very easy to imagine that when you have vehicles, essentially crossing paths with pedestrians, it creates an opportunity for a collision.

Crosswalk Laws in DC

It is important to remember that there are rules of the road for both drivers and pedestrians when crossing a street in a crosswalk in the District of Columbia. The term “crosswalk” is a term used in common conversation.  However, a crosswalk can be both marked, meaning delineated on the pavement, or unmarked.

Laws For Pedestrians

In DC, there are municipal regulations that prescribe the proper method by which a pedestrian should cross the street. These regulations bind a pedestrian to following the rules when they cross the street. For example, the regulations require a pedestrian to cross at a crosswalk at the intersection.  The regulations make clear that if a pedestrian crosses at any other point or in the middle of the block, than the pedestrian shall yield the right of way to a vehicle traveling along that road.

The law in DC requires both drivers and pedestrians to follow the municipal regulations –equally.  Thus, any thinking that the pedestrian “always has the right of way” is simply not supported by the law in the District of Columbia.

Laws For Drivers

The rules for drivers are prescribed by the DC Municipal Regulations. Drivers are to operate their vehicles in a safe and prudent manner for the circumstances that are present at that time and location. This means that if a driver is confronted with different road conditions, such as rain or snow, than that driver must operate the vehicle in a safe and prudent manner for those particular circumstances.

Impact of Crosswalks on Pedestrian Accident Cases

When a case involving a pedestrian is presented to a judge or a jury in the District of Columbia, the same judge and jury is provided a copy of the applicable municipal regulations.  Ultimately, the person determining the outcome of the case, be it a judge or a jury, must apply the facts of the case to the law.  The regulations provide the law to the decision maker.  Likewise, each individual case lives and dies according to its own set of facts.

For example, if a person testifies that he/she was in or out of the crosswalk can be critical to the outcome.  Further, if there is contradictory testimony regarding whether or not the pedestrian was in or out the crosswalk can also be a significant factor in the ultimate outcome of the case.