Category Archives: Pedestrians

Pedestrian Hit by Truck on WV Turnpike – Police Urge Against Pedestrians on Interstate

A 90 year-old man was hit by a UPS tractor trailer several days ago after stopping his car on the side of the road, walking across the turnpike near Beckley to ask directions from construction workers, and then trying to walk back across.

The driver of the UPS truck was not cited. Reportedly, he tried to stop and sounded his air horns and attempted to steer the truck away from the pedestrian.

State Police Cpl. David Skala noted that pedestrian traffic on interstate highways is not allowed. He urged people to never even walk on an interstate highway’s shoulder and especially warned them not to set foot in the traffic lanes. Quite often, drivers will veer into the shoulder, striking motorists pulled over. Police officers conducting traffic stops have also been killed by such drivers.

“That’s why you see signs on interstates that say, ‘No pedestrians, bicycles, horses or mopeds,’” Skala said.

While pulling onto the shoulder in an emergency is OK, troopers have often found people walking alongside the turnpike. Some are tending to disabled vehicles, and others are hitchhiking. Skala said. Those lost on an interstate should wait until they find the nearest exit. Then they should call for help on a cell phone.

You can read the full article from the Register-Herald here.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

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WV Car Accident Law Regarding Pedestrians

Unfortunately, there have been many accidents in WV lately involving pedestrians who have been seriously injured or killed. It is important to look at what WV law actually says about situations where pedestrians are struck by cars and suffer personal injuries or death. What better way to look at this than to examine jury instructions that are actually given to juries considering these issues. Following you will find proposed jury instructions that instruct jurors in personal injury cases as to WV law regarding pedestrians. These jury instructions were provided by the State of West Virginia, and can be found here.

Pedestrians Crossing Highway Other Than Crosswalks

Every pedestrian crossing a roadway, at a point other than a marked crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway. Nevertheless, every driver of an automobile shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian so crossing upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.

Statutes: 17c-1O-3; 17c-1O-4
Caselaw: Kretzer v.Moses Pontiac Sales, Inc., 201 S.E.2d 275

Pedestrians Crossing Highway Within a Crosswalk

When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation at a crosswalk, the driver of a motor vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the motor vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. Every driver of a motor vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.

However, no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a motor vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

Statutes: 17c-1O-2; 17c-1O-4

General Instruction Concerning Duty of Driver to Pedestrian

Every driver of a motor vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.

Statute: 17c-10-4

Duty of Driver to Child, Confused or Incapacitated Person Upon the Roadway

Every driver of a motor vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary. In addition, the driver of a motor vehicle shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child, or any confused, or any incapacitated person upon the roadway.

Statute: 17c-10-4

Passing a Vehicle Stopped at a Cross Walk When a Pedestrian is Present

Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk, or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching the stopped vehicle from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

Statute: 17c- 1O-2b

Lastly, regarding these statutes, violation of a statute by a driver itself is prima facie evidence of negligence. Thus, usually the following jury instruction is given regarding violation of a statute:

Violation of a Statute Instruction

Prima fade evidence of negligence is evidence that is sufficient in and of itself to establish a given fact. In other words, if you find that the defendant violated any of the statutes regarding the operation of motor vehicles in the State of West Virginia, then the establishment of that fact is in and of itself sufficient to establish negligence on the part of the defendant.

For the defendant to overcome this evidence, the defendant must present evidence himself that said negligence was not a proximate cause of the plaintiffs injuries and damages.

Caselaw: White v. Lock 332 SE. 2d 240 (W Va. 1985).

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney

Mother Takes Blame for 26 Year-Old Son After Child Hit by Car – Issue of Eyewitness Testimony

From the Register-Herald today, the full article for which can be found here.

In Nicholas County, a 64 year old woman named Shirley Gilles is expected to be charged with filing a false police report. According to investigators, her 26 year-old son hit and critically injured a 12 year-old child who was walking to school. The child was taken to CAMC via HealthNet helicopter.

The son, Justin Gilles, was driving on a suspended license. He left the scene and then returned with his mother, who told investigators that she was the one driving. However, an eyewitness reportedly told police otherwise.

Eyewitness testimony becomes very important at this point. However, eyewitness testimony is also very unreliable compared to other forms of evidence. When I was in law school, a criminal clinic professor showed the entire class a video of a man walking out of a building carrying a box. Then he drops the box walking down the steps of the building, after which another person stops to help him. Then the professor stopped the video and began asking the class questions about what they remember seeing. There were about 25 different versions of what the people looked like, what color clothes they were wearing, how old they looked, and what actually happened in the video. The moral of the story is, that we don’t realize how inherently unreliable eyewitness memories can be. In the above case however, it would be pretty difficult to confuse a 64 year-old woman with a 26 year-old man. It probably has happened though, and certainly an experienced trial lawyer can muddy the waters in front of a jury.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

Girl Hurt in Wreck Awarded $1.25 Million

From the Charleston Gazette:

Girl hurt in wreck gets $1.25 million

By Andrew Clevenger
Staff writer

After a four-day trial in Kanawha Circuit Court, a jury awarded more than $1.25 million to a Scarbro girl who was injured when a truck ricocheted off another truck and pinned her leg against a power pole in 2004.

Stefanie McKinney, now 14, needed 720 square centimeters of skin grafts on her leg, said her lawyer, Chad Love.

“The scarring was just unbelievable,” he said.

The jury’s verdict included $250,000 for pain and suffering, $200,000 for mental and emotional distress and $550,000 for disfigurement. In addition, the jury awarded $257,858.52 to cover McKinney’s medical bills.

McKinney was standing on a corner in Oak Hill when a 1997 Ford Ranger truck driven by John Anderson collided with a 1994 GMC truck driven by Jimmie Souder, according to the lawsuit she filed in 2006. After the impact, Anderson’s truck pinned her leg against the pole.

The jury found that Souder was 100 percent liable for the accident, and Anderson was not negligent.

Beckley lawyer Tim Hayes, who represented Souder, could not be reached on Friday.

Charleston attorney Andy Brison, who represented Anderson, said he was glad that the jury had concluded that his client was not at fault.

“It’s a tragic case. This little girl was standing there advertising her mother’s yard sale, and she gets hit like that,” Brison said.

McKinney impressed Brison as the kind of person who refused to become a lifelong victim.

“She had a really good recovery,” he said, noting that by the spring of 2005, she was playing softball, even making the all-star team. “As her dad said, she worked her butt off to get into that shape, and I agree. She’s just not going to let this get her down. She doesn’t seem like the kind of kid who would do that.”

Judge Paul Zakaib Jr. presided over the case.

12 Year-Old Skateboarder Hit, Killed by State Police Cruiser

From the Register-Herald:

12-year-old skateboarder hit by police cruiser, killed

By Amelia A. Pridemore

Register-Herald reporter

A 12-year-old boy skateboarding on Robert C. Byrd Drive was struck by a State Police cruiser and killed early Saturday, authorities said.

Curtis Dwayne Webb, 12, of 151 Dickenson Ave., Beckley, was struck around 12:05 a.m. on Byrd Drive in Crab Orchard, according to State Police 1st Sgt. D.L. Bowles.

The southbound cruiser was driven by Trooper H.D. Stone, Bowles said. The preliminary investigation indicates the boy was riding the skateboard in the roadway.

State Police Capt. S.F. Van Meter said Stone did not see the boy. Stone has been given time off to deal with what has happened.

“The whole thing is just a tragedy,” Van Meter said.

Sgt. T.L. Williams is the investigating officer, Bowles said.

Ironton Officer Hits, Kills Pedestrian

From WCHS TV:

PEDESTRIAN HIT AND KILLED BY POLICE OFFICER
Ironton Officer on Paid Leave After Killing Pedestrian

Reported by: Steve Borecky
Videographer: Jarod Herrell
Web Producer: Mamie Buoy
March 10, 2008 11:20pm

An Ironton police officer is on paid leave for hitting a man with his cruiser and then dragging him several blocks to his death. Patrolman, Richard Fouts, hit Guy Thomas Saturday night as he was walking out of the American Legion Hall. His body was then dragged ten blocks to the police station, where it was later found lodged under the vehicle.

The disabled Navy veteran’s family has more questions than answers about his death.

“Why didn’t he stop?” asked Louverne Miller, Thomas’ aunt. “Maybe he could have saved a life if he had stopped and called a rescue squad.”

Ironton Police Chief, Jim Carey, says Fouts was headed to work when he hit Thomas. He also took a drug and alcohol test right after the accident, but the results haven’t been released yet.

Fouts is on paid leave until the Ohio Bureau of Investigations figures out exactly what happened.

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

Four Vehicle Accident in Oak Hill Leads to More Problems Due to Reckless and Indifferent Drivers

Note: This article contains a great description of how many accidents and injuries are caused merely by subsequent cars arriving to the scene of an accident and either gawking at the accident scene, or driving recklessly around the accident scene. This endangers accident victims, emergency personnel, and innocent motorists who are driving properly. These reckless and indifferent motorists are breaking traffic laws when they commit these acts and they will easily be held liable for any injuries they inflict – especially since emergency personnel witnesses trying to save lives make great witnesses in any subsequent civil case. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia car accident attorney.

From the Beckley Register-Herald:

Police: Driver impatience can lead to more accidents

Amelia A. Pridemore
Register-Herald Reporter

Oak Hill police handled a four-vehicle accident last Thursday afternoon, but while the wrecked cars were cleared from the scene, far worse damage from a resulting traffic jam remained on U.S. 19.

After the “chain-reaction,” multi-vehicle rear-end crash at the Greentown Road exit, about 30 to 40 motorists plowed across the grassy, muddy U.S. 19 median to get into the cleared northbound lanes, Lt. C.N. Williams said. Reportedly, at least one driver wound up stuck. Tire tracks and mud were found in the median throughout the approximately one-mile backup site.

Other drivers resorted to driving backward on entrance ramps, Williams said.

Traffic jams often result from vehicle accidents, but police say impatient motorists often make matters worse. Their extreme methods of trying to find a way out of traffic sometimes cause even more accidents, and those drivers put themselves, other motorists and emergency responders at risk.

Patrolman 1st Class C.A. Young said traffic jams ensue after almost every car accident and drivers automatically want to find a way out. That happens both on U.S. 19 and city streets.

Driving through the U.S. 19 median, he said, is especially dangerous because of the 55 mph speed limit in the city limits.

“It takes time to get turned around, get up to speed and not get hit,” he said.

Any time U.S. 19 is partly or totally closed, an Oak Hill officer besides the one investigating the accident will be sent to the scene to monitor the traffic for risky motorist behavior, Young said. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department will often back them up. But even having police officers in fully marked cruisers at the scene does not stop some drivers.

“The drivers don’t seem to pay attention to us more than they do anyone else,” Young said.

Officers responding to wrecks and other calls on U.S. 19 are often put at risk, Young said. A relatively new state law requires motorists to move into the left lane or sharply decrease speed if a police officer is stopped off the roadway. Despite that, officers find themselves nearly struck by vehicles often.

“On 19, we can be doing a traffic stop, wreck or assisting a disabled motorist,” Young said. “Officers are nearly hit.

“We will stop and see if someone needs help, and cars just fly past us.”

U.S. 19 is not the only roadway where officers see such problems. State Police Trooper 1st Class R.T. Stinson said drivers on the West Virginia Turnpike will also go to extreme and illegal methods of avoiding traffic jams. Besides driving through medians and the wrong way on ramps, people will often drive through emergency lanes, he noted.

“Let emergency workers do their jobs,” he said. “Eventually, traffic will clear enough for one lane to reopen and traffic will get moving.”

Stinson estimated subsequent accidents occur about 50 percent of the time. From his experience, a lot of the drivers are simply not paying attention.

“They’re on their cell phones, eating — then they come into slower traffic from an accident and crash into the back of a car,” Stinson said. “One woman was driving with her knees, putting her makeup on.”

Sometimes, gawking causes accidents, he said. He was once helping a motorist whose vehicle broke down. Someone was rubber-necking and caused a multi-vehicle rear-end crash.

Like Young, Stinson said turnpike troopers are often nearly struck while responding to accidents and other calls, even though the Parkways Authority has posted several signs reminding motorists of the “move-over” law.

“We’ve almost been hit several times while doing our jobs out here,” he said.

Both Young and Stinson said driving in medians, U-turns, going the wrong way on exit ramps and driving in emergency lanes are illegal, and motorists can be cited. Young noted someone can be charged with destruction of state property for damaging a median.

But when an officer is tied up with an accident investigation, enforcement becomes difficult, especially when so many drivers are breaking the law at the same time, according to both.

Stinson said unless the actions of other motorists are clearly more life-threatening than the accident, an officer must focus on the investigation. He likened the situation to playing in a basketball game.

“The crowd is cheering, but you’re having to focus on that foul shot,” he said. “That’s what a traffic investigation is like. You have to concentrate and keep everyone safe as possible. You don’t catch everyone.”