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inside view of a car with a drivers hand on the steering wheel waiting for pedestrians to pass in crosswalk

More than half of Virginia pedestrians killed by motor vehicles this year happened during a two-week period last month.

As shocking as that sounds, it reflects the reality that Virginia pedestrians are in more danger than ever before.

The Virginia State Police (VSP) issued an alert on X (formerly Twitter) at the end of February, addressing what they call an “alarming uptick” in pedestrian crash deaths. Nineteen pedestrians have lost their lives so far this year, 10 of them in the latter half of February. Virginia pedestrian deaths have increased despite a slew of recently implemented Virginia traffic laws designed to protect them.  

The rest of the country isn’t faring much better. 

According to a recent report by the Governors’ Highway Safety Association (GHSA), there has been a 14 percent increase in pedestrian deaths in the U.S. since the pandemic and a 58 percent increase since 2013. The GHSA also reported that more than 7,500 pedestrians were killed by drivers in 2022, the highest number in more than four decades.

Pedestrians, unlike drivers, have no protection from a crash. As a result, their injuries tend to be much more severe. Pedestrians have the right to pursue legal action against dangerous drivers for injuries to themselves or loved ones, so long as they are not partially responsible for the crash. A Virginia pedestrian accident attorney can secure compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. 

Why Are Virginia Pedestrian Deaths So High?

Several factors are driving the increase in pedestrian accidents. The GHSA’s report noted a steep drop in traffic law enforcement since the pandemic began in 2020, allowing drivers to speed, drive drunk or distracted, and practice other reckless behaviors without much consequence. The report said that roadways are also designed for fast-moving traffic and don’t have enough sidewalks, crosswalks, or adequate lighting to keep pedestrians safe.

Common causes of Virginia pedestrian deaths – most of which are completely preventable – include:

  • Drunk driving (responsible for about 30% of all traffic accident deaths nationwide)
  • Distracted driving (using your phone, playing the radio, talking to passengers, etc.)
  • Speeding 
  • Road rage
  • Reckless/careless driving
  • Bad weather and inadequate lighting
  • Driving without enough sleep
  • Construction

Many of these also apply to the pedestrian, who is responsible for being aware of surroundings, crossing only in designated crosswalks, waiting until traffic is clear, and staying off roads and highways restricted to pedestrians. Having the right of way as a pedestrian does not relieve you of personal liability. Virginia and Washington D.C. both adhere to the contributory negligence rule, meaning that an injured pedestrian cannot collect damages from a driver if found at even 1% fault for the accident.

Pedestrian accidents can cause catastrophic and permanent injury. Possibilities include broken or fractured bones, dislocations, deep lacerations, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injuries such as concussions. The treatment for such injuries can include multiple surgeries, rehabilitation, and medication. Especially traumatic accidents can result in mental health problems such as PTSD, insomnia, and depression. 

How To Stay Safe As a Pedestrian

Most of the time, staying aware of your surroundings and following traffic laws will keep you safe while sharing the roadways with vehicles. Of course, there is an inherent risk in simply being a pedestrian that you can’t control. You never know what drivers are going to do.

The VSP’s alert included pedestrian safety tips, such as:

  • Make your movements predictable to drivers
  • Plan your route and know where the crossings are located
  • Never walk under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Avoid distractions such as phones and earbuds
  • Wear bright, reflective clothing and carry a flashlight after dark
  • In the absence of crosswalks, avoid vehicles turning into intersections by standing where you and drivers can see each other
  • Most importantly, never assume that a driver sees you

Determining fault in pedestrian accidents can be very difficult. An experienced Virginia pedestrian accident attorney can help you navigate this complex process. They can negotiate with insurance companies, build a strong case against contributory negligence, make sure you are awarded the full value of your claim, and represent you in case of trial. 

The financial burden that comes with a pedestrian accident can ruin lives. The Virginia personal lawyers at Curcio Law have more than forty years of experience securing compensation for our clients, whether they are injured or lose a loved one to wrongful death. Let us take it from here while you focus on the road to recovery. Contact us online or call/text 703-836-3366 for your free, confidential consultation. 

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