Accidents between motor vehicles and pedestrians are horrifyingly common — and deadly. Motorists kill thousands of pedestrians annually; nearly twenty fatalities occur daily. Unfortunately, these numbers have increased from year to year. West Virginia pedestrian deaths nearly doubled in 2021, the highest tally in forty years. Kanawha County and Cabell County had the most accidents. One fatality was a student at Marshall University.
Cities like Huntington, Charles Town, and Martinsburg are working with the West Virginia Department of Transportation to improve walkability and reduce pedestrian accidents across the state. In April 2022, the League of American Bicyclists recognized the state’s efforts to improve safe traffic laws and implement “complete street” policies that value all road users equally. This has encouraged towns of all sizes — even small towns like Charles Town — to take steps to make their roadways safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Determining Fault in a Pedestrian-Vehicle Collision
Whether a pedestrian or a driver is responsible for causing a collision is often an issue. What each person was doing at the time of the accident can be vital to determining whether a pedestrian can recover compensation for their damages. A person who is legally at fault may be held legally accountable for paying the cost of the resulting injuries.
Many pedestrian-automobile collisions are caused by negligence or recklessness by a driver, pedestrian, or both. A driver that violates the rules of the road — like running a red light, failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, or speeding — will likely be held liable if their behavior causes an accident.
Claims Against Vehicle Manufacturers
Sometimes, a defective vehicle part or design contributes to or causes an accident. Defects like faulty brakes or tires can leave a driver unable to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Vehicle designs that limit a driver’s ability to see pedestrians in front of or behind their vehicle may contribute to pedestrian injuries, especially those involving small children. Safety features like backup cameras and sensors can malfunction, failing to alert a driver to a pedestrian’s presence.
If a defective product or design contributes to an accident, an injured pedestrian may be able to bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle or component. These claims not only help an injured pedestrian recover but also protect the public from dangerous products.
Claims Against Public or Municipal Agencies
In some cases, a pedestrian may be able to bring a claim against a public entity that failed to keep the roadways in a safe condition for pedestrians. Such cases may be appropriate if the design of an intersection is unreasonably dangerous or if a pedestrian safety device (like a crosswalk light) malfunctions. Filing against a public entity is complicated; laws limit their liability, and you must meet strict notification and filing requirements. If you believe you have a complaint involving a city or municipal agency, you should immediately talk to an experienced pedestrian injury lawyer.
Modified Comparative Negligence in West Virginia
Sometimes a pedestrian’s own actions contribute to their injuries. A pedestrian may be distracted and not paying proper attention when a negligent driver hits them. Examples include a child darting out between parked cars into the path of a driver, pedestrians looking at their phones or mobile devices, and jaywalkers crossing against a red light or signal.
In West Virginia, an injured person can still pursue a personal injury claim even if they are partially at fault for the occurrence. This is called “contributory negligence.” If a judge or jury determines that a plaintiff is less than 51% at fault, they can still recover compensation for their damages. The total amount of the award they recover will be reduced by the percentage of their fault.
Injured in a West Virginia Pedestrian Accident? Get an Experienced Attorney.
If you are involved in a pedestrian accident in Berkeley County, Morgan County, Jefferson County, or elsewhere in West Virginia, you need a lawyer that understands your needs. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Skinner Law Firm will help you understand your options and explore what is best for you. We will help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Call or text us today at 304-245-6613 to schedule your complimentary case evaluation.