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Local personal injury Lawyer discusses Crosswalk & Pedestrian Laws in WA State


From Advertiser W. Tracy Codd:

Crosswalks and intersections can be dangerous places for both drivers and pedestrians. Both drivers and pedestrians can engage in behaviors that cause serious collisions that can lead to catastrophic, life changing injuries and sometimes death.

The National HighwayTraffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) tracks accidents for all fifty states, including the State of Washington. Traffic fatalities were up sharply in 2015 (2016 data is not available at this time.) See: https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/traffic-fatalities-sharply-2015.

Below is a table provided by NHTSA for 2015:

Washington Fatalities by Crash Type

Crash Type 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Total Fatalities (All Crashes)* 454 438 436 462 568
– (1) Single Vehicle 291 260 261 276 317
– (2) Involving a Large Truck 33 45 40 36 42
– (3) Involving Speeding 169 162 184 162 156
– (4) Involving a Rollover 109 75 103 105 114
– (5) Involving a Roadway Departure 284 274 272 279 329
– (6) Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related) 99 84 107 130 152

As you can see, fatalities involving an intersection or intersection related accidents lead to 152 fatalities in our state in 2015. Unfortunately, as more vehicles enter our roadways, the trend is increasing upward. Additional accident-related statistics can be found at https://one.nhtsa.gov/Research.

While driving in the area of a marked or unmarked crosswalk:

Drivers must always:

  • exercise due care to avoid a collision with a pedestrian at all times.
  • yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, whether at a marked or unmarked intersection.
  • stop or slow down before passing another vehicle stopped in a travel lane until the driver has determined whether that vehicle has stopped for a pedestrian.
  • in the presence of a school crossing guard, wait for all persons including the guard to completely clear the road before proceeding.
  • Never pass another vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk.

Pedestrians in the area of a marked or unmarked crosswalk:

Pedestrians must always:

  • use the sidewalk and the nearest crosswalk, pedestrian bridge or tunnel when possible.
  • obey official traffic control devices.
  • walk on the left side of the street facing traffic if no sidewalk is available.
  • not cross an intersection diagonally unless the intersection is specifically designed for this. (There are not many of these in the Seattle area, the West Seattle Junction at Alaska Avenue SW is a rare example)

Relevant laws in Washington can be found in RCW 46.61.235 – Washington State Crosswalk & Pedestrian Laws.

RCW 46.61.235 reads as follows:

(1) The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For purposes of this section “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.

(2) No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.

(3) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply under the conditions stated in RCW 46.61.240(2).

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

When someone is injured in a vehicle-pedestrian accident, whether it be in Burien, Normandy Park, White Center or greater Seattle, what needs to happen next?

In an injury accident setting, it is crucial to first receive appropriate medical treatment.

As soon as possible after the accident, an injured person should contact their insurance company to find out how medical treatment is covered under their insurance policy. Most auto insurance policies do not cover injuries incurred while a pedestrian. Most auto insurance policies do cover injuries caused to a pedestrian.

Most homeowner’s policies do not cover injuries incurred while a pedestrian on a public roadway nor do they cover injuries caused to a pedestrian.

Finally, health insurance coverage provided through employment or provided through other means normally covers injuries suffered as a pedestrian, however certain duties of reimbursement, known as “right of subrogation” exist between the injured pedestrian and the health insurance provider. Health insurance coverage will not cover injuries caused to a pedestrian.

Pedestrian accidents can be extremely devastating to both the accident victim and the at-fault driver, in part because the likelihood of serious injuries to pedestrians is extremely high. A person in a crosswalk is essentially defenseless against a multi-ton motor vehicle and these types of accidents often happen without any warning to the pedestrian.

When a crash is serious and a death or serious bodily injury occurs as a result of injuries sustained as a pedestrian in a crosswalk or, for that matter other areas of the public roadways, the next step is to find an experienced personal injury attorney to start the financial recovery process by launching an insurance claim. Major injury or wrongful death claims are complicated and difficult to manage. Having an injury lawyer on board is a great relief to injured parties, or to the family left behind when an accident proves fatal.

Consult an experienced Washington car accident attorney, who will be able to guide you efficiently through what can be an extremely complex legal process.

Burien Attorney W. Tracy Codd has been representing persons involved in serious auto accidents since 1987.

Call for a free consultation.

Phone: 206-248-6152

Website: www.tracycodd.com

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