Posted in Safety Tips on December 27, 2021
While pedestrians have significant rights throughout West Virginia, crosswalks are provided to give pedestrians safe locations to cross the road. All drivers have a responsibility to know and obey West Virginia’s crosswalk laws and pedestrian rights-of-way. Use this outline of the state’s crosswalk laws to learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a driver or pedestrian.
The right-of-way means the legal authority to cross a road or intersection. The road user who has the right-of-way has the legal right to proceed. In the majority of cases, pedestrians have the right-of-way at crosswalks in West Virginia. If a pedestrian is in a crosswalk approaching the driver’s side of the road, the driver must come to a complete stop before the vehicle enters the crosswalk. No driver may pass another car that is stopped for a pedestrian at a crosswalk.
If the crosswalk has a traffic control signal that tells pedestrians when they can and cannot cross the road, pedestrians must obey the signal. Similarly, drivers must yield to pedestrians when a sign indicates that pedestrians have the right-of-way. If the sign is showing a “Don’t Walk” signal or a flashing hand, pedestrians must wait until the signal returns to the “Walk” sign to cross.
At intersections with no painted crosswalk lines or traffic-control devices, pedestrians still have the right-of-way in West Virginia. All drivers approaching a four-way stop must come to complete stops and allow pedestrians to cross. Pedestrians cannot, however, leave a curb or other place of safety and step into the road if a vehicle is approaching too quickly to stop. The pedestrian cannot cross until it is safe to do so, even with the right-of-way.
Motorists have the greatest responsibility to prevent pedestrian accidents, as motor vehicles can cause significant injuries to pedestrians. Pedestrians do not have any protection from injuries in a collision – often resulting in life-threatening injuries. Drivers in West Virginia must pay attention to the road, obey West Virginia’s traffic laws and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, when applicable. However, pedestrians also have responsibilities that they should follow to reduce the risk of accidents.
According to West Virginia Code Section 17C-10-3, every pedestrian who crosses the road at a place other than a marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection must yield the right-of-way to oncoming vehicles. The law also states that if a pedestrian is crossing the road between two adjacent intersections, he or she must do so only in a marked crosswalk. If a pedestrian goes against his or her responsibilities or breaks a traffic law, he or she may be found partially or fully at fault for a pedestrian accident.
West Virginia is a tort-based car insurance state. This means that after a pedestrian accident, the person or party who caused the crash is financially responsible (liable) for related injuries and medical bills experienced by the victim. It is up to the victim, however, to prove fault to qualify for financial compensation from the other party’s insurance provider.
If a motor vehicle driver causes a pedestrian accident, such as by texting while driving or driving under the influence, his or her auto insurance company is responsible for paying for the pedestrian’s medical bills and other expenses. If an investigation finds that the pedestrian also contributed to the crash, this could reduce the victim’s financial recovery.
West Virginia’s comparative negligence law states that as long as a victim is less than 50 percent responsible for an accident, he or she can still recover financial compensation (reduced by his or her percentage of fault). If you get injured in a pedestrian accident in West Virginia, contact a pedestrian accident attorney, even if you believe you contributed. A lawyer can help you understand how the state’s crosswalk laws impact your case and protect your rights.