pedestrians right of way

When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way in West Virginia?

When it comes to being a pedestrian in West Virginia, there’s one question that’s always worth asking: Do you really know when you have the legal right of way to cross the street?

It seems simple enough – pedestrians go first in crosswalks and at intersections, right? But the actual laws around pedestrian right of way can get pretty specific and nuanced. When exactly does a driver have to yield to you? What if there’s no marked crosswalk?

At the same time, it’s also important for pedestrians to understand their responsibilities, even when they have the right of way. There are still rules of the road to follow to keep yourself safe.

In this post, we’ll break down the rules on when West Virginia pedestrians have the legal right of way. We’ll cover the nuances around crosswalks, intersections, and other situations the law defines.

What Does “Right of Way” Mean for Pedestrians Crossing the Road?

For pedestrians, “right of way” refers to the legal right of a person on foot to proceed with precedence over vehicles in certain situations. West Virginia has specific laws that outline when pedestrians have the right of way and when they must yield to vehicles.

Let’s take a closer look at two important statutes:

West Virginia Code §17C-10-2

Declares that pedestrians always have the right of way over vehicles in marked crosswalks and unmarked crosswalks at intersections as long as they follow traffic control devices and exercise due care.

West Virginia Code §17C-10-3

Addresses situations where pedestrians cross at points other than crosswalks. In these cases, pedestrians must yield the right of way to vehicles unless they are already safely crossing the road.

It’s important to note that pedestrians and drivers are responsible for ensuring street safety. Pedestrians must obey traffic signals, use sidewalks when available, and avoid suddenly leaving the curb or a place of safety.

On the other hand, drivers must remain alert, yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians.

Situations Granting Pedestrian Right of Way Under West Virginia Law

The above statute expressly says that West Virginia pedestrians only have the right of way in certain situations:

Marked Crosswalks

When crossing the street within a marked crosswalk, vehicles must yield your right of way. This rule applies even if there are no traffic control signals present.

Unmarked Crosswalks at Intersections

If you are crossing at an intersection without a marked crosswalk, you still have the right of way over vehicles. However, you must exercise caution and ensure it’s safe to cross before proceeding.

While pedestrians have the right of way in these situations, they also have responsibilities to ensure their safety:

  • Obey traffic control devices like traffic lights and walk or don’t walk signals.
  • Exercise due care when crossing the street, and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid suddenly leaving the curb or a place of safety, as this can catch drivers off guard.

You must also consider the needs of pedestrians with disabilities. Drivers must take extra care when approaching crosswalks and give more time for disabled or elderly individuals to cross the street safely.

Pedestrian Laws and Obligations for Drivers

West Virginia drivers have a legal and moral obligation to prioritize pedestrian safety.

Marked Crosswalks

When approaching crosswalks, you must yield the right of way to pedestrians crossing or about to cross the street. This obligation means slowing down, stopping if necessary, and allowing them to cross safely before proceeding.

Duty of Care

In addition to yielding at crosswalks, the law legally obligates vehicle operators to avoid colliding with pedestrians at all times. This duty includes being alert, avoiding distractions, and adjusting your speed based on road and weather conditions. Passing vehicles stopped at a crosswalk is also illegal, as the markings allow pedestrians to cross safely.

Failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians can result in severe consequences for drivers. Not only can it lead to devastating accidents and injuries, but it can also result in traffic citations, fines, and potential personal injury liability in the event of a pedestrian accident.

Assigning Fault in West Virginia Pedestrian Accident Cases

Despite everyone’s best efforts, pedestrian accidents can still occur. In West Virginia, some common causes of pedestrian accidents include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding or reckless driving
  • Failure to yield the right of way to pedestrians
  • Impaired driving (under the influence of alcohol or drugs)
  • Poor visibility or adverse weather conditions

After an accident, it’s important to understand how the law assigns fault and how the damages from the collision could affect any personal injury claim you file.

West Virginia follows modified comparative negligence rules, which means that if the courts or insurance companies find you partially at fault for a pedestrian accident, they can reduce your compensation proportionately.

This limitation means that even if you bear some responsibility for the accident, you may still be entitled to damages for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand the legal process, gather evidence to support your claim, and fight for the compensation you deserve after a pedestrian accident.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians and Drivers

Both pedestrians and drivers should follow these safety tips to help prevent pedestrian accidents in West Virginia.

Tips for Pedestrians

  • Be visible and predictable by wearing bright or reflective clothing, especially at night.
  • Stay alert and avoid distractions like using your phone or headphones while walking.
  • Use designated crosswalks and follow traffic signals whenever possible.

Tips for Drivers

  • Slow down in pedestrian-heavy areas, such as school zones, residential neighborhoods, and shopping districts.
  • Be prepared to stop at crosswalks and yield the right of way to pedestrians.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, such as texting, eating, or adjusting the radio.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I’m involved in a pedestrian accident in West Virginia?

After a pedestrian accident, prioritize your safety and seek medical attention as needed. Call the police to report the accident and gather information from the driver and any witnesses. Consider contacting a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.

How long must I file a personal injury claim after a pedestrian accident?

In West Virginia, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years from the accident date. However, it’s best to consult with a pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible to assert your rights.

Can pedestrians be held liable for causing an accident?

YES! The law holds pedestrians partially or fully liable for accidents if they fail to follow traffic laws or act negligently. However, drivers still must exercise due care and avoid colliding with pedestrians whenever possible.

How can I prove the driver was at fault in a pedestrian accident?

Evidence such as witness statements, police reports, traffic camera footage, and medical records can help establish driver fault in a pedestrian accident. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can assist you in gathering and presenting this evidence to support your claim.

Stay Safe and Seek Pedestrian Accident Lawyers When Needed

Before using city streets and sidewalks, pedestrians and drivers must understand the state’s right-of-way laws. By knowing when pedestrians have the right of way, exercising caution and care on the roads, and following safety best practices, we can all work together to reduce the risk of pedestrian accidents and protect lives.

Always seek guidance from a personal injury law firm after a West Virginia pedestrian accident.

Miley Legal is here to help you understand your rights, take on personal injury litigation, and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a FREE consultation and case evaluation, and let us put our expertise to work for you.

Author Bio

Tim Miley is the Founder of Miley Legal Accident Injury Lawyers, a West Virginia personal injury law firm he formed in 2006. With more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of personal injury cases, including car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, brain injuries, wrongful death, and other personal injury matters.

Tim received his Juris Doctor from Duquesne University and is a member of the West Virginia State Bar and the Harrison County Bar Association. He has helped his clients win more than $10 million in personal injury verdicts and settlements and has further served the people of West Virginia by filling legislative roles in the state’s government since 2004.

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