Traffic Laws That Can Impact Pedestrian Accident Claims in Chantilly

In any accident case, liability is always an issue. This is especially true regarding pedestrian accident cases in Chantilly because Virginia is a contributory negligence state. Contributory negligence means that if a person contributes to their own demise, even by 1%, they are barred from making a recovery. This is the opposite of states that operate under a different doctrine, known as comparative negligence.

Comparative negligence means a person’s ability to make a recovery is deducted by the percentage they are at fault. For example, if an individual is a pedestrian and deemed to have walked out in front of another vehicle and are 10% at fault, they may still be entitled to a 90% recovery in states that operate under the theory of comparative negligence. In Virginia, however, with contributory negligence, the individual would be legally barred from recovery.

Right of Way Liability

Some common laws and regulations regarding pedestrian and traffic that impact liability are statutes involving the right of way. Typically, the right of way statutes that consider actions around controlled or uncontrolled intersections. Controlled intersections refer to intersections with stop signs or stop lights. The most common issues of liability are around yielding the right of way or failing to yield the right of way.

In controlled intersections, there is a standard right of way. If a person is facing a signal and that signal is giving the car the right of way, the pedestrian must yield. If the pedestrian is given the right of way, the vehicle must yield.  Other areas, such as stop signs, traditionally are in the right of way, where the car must yield. If the car has the green light, however, the pedestrian must yield to traffic.

Crosswalk Liability

In general, drivers in Chantilly have a duty to stop for pedestrians that are in a crosswalk. There are often such signs at malls, town centers, or other popular areas or sections where there are pedestrians crossing throughout the Commonwealth. If the pedestrian is already in the crosswalk by the time the driver encounters the intersection, the oncoming driver must yield.

Sometimes, pedestrians cross against the crosswalks even when they do not have the signal because they see a crosswalk in front of them. This may be an issue for the pedestrian as it may create a contributory negligence issue on their own behalf if their decision to walk against the crosswalk contributed to their own demise.

Impaired or Distracted Driving

Some other examples that drivers may face additional liability issues are if they are impaired or distracted. Impaired driving can occasionally create punitive damages in a pedestrian accident case. When a driver’s blood alcohol content is received into evidence in a pedestrian accident case, for example, and their blood alcohol content is above 0.15, the driver may be assessed punitive damages as a result of high drunkenness.

Additionally, juries, judges, and claims adjusters look unfavorably on drivers who are committing pedestrian accidents because they are distracted by their music, fatigue, or increasingly common, texting while driving.

Texting while driving is illegal in Virginia. Although it does not have the same enforcement capability at the current moment as in some of its neighboring states, like D.C. and Maryland, it is on the rise as far as what some of the police are looking for on a regular basis to stop potential pedestrian injuries.