Date: December 21, 2009
Location: SW 178th Avenue & Tualatin Valley Highway, Forest Grove, Oregon
Names: Cecilio Venegas
Three children, ages 10, 13, and 14, were injured after being struck by a car while crossing the street December 21, 2009, according to reports by Salem-News.com and KTVB.com.
The accident occurred around 4:50 PM, during dark, rainy conditions on the four-lane Tualatin Valley Highway at 178th Avenue in Forest Grove, Oregon. The children were crossing within a designated pedestrian crossing, and the first three lanes of traffic were stopped. But as the children crossed the last lane, all three were struck by a car driven by Cecilio Venegas, 52, of Gresham.
The 13-year-old girl and the 14-year-old boy were thrown over the hood onto the windshield of the car and suffered critical but non-life-threatening injuries. The 10-year-old girl received minor injuries. All three children were transported to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.
Venegas told deputies he did not see the children until his car hit them.
According to KTVB.com, the children were wearing dark clothing, and Sgt. Bob Ray of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office reminded pedestrians to wear reflective clothing and carry a light.
Venegas was cited for passing a stopped vehicle in a crosswalk, which is a Class B traffic violation under ORS 811.020.
Our hearts go out to the children who were hit, and their families, and we hope they come through this difficult time without any lasting injuries. We know from experience how painful it is when a family member is hurt, and especially when they’re young. Please know our thoughts are with you.
Dark clothing or not, this accident never should have happened. When drivers see another vehicle stopped, they should do so also – especially at a marked crosswalk. That is why the law is there. If cars are stopped in a roadway, it’s for a reason. These children had every right to cross the street. And while all pedestrians and drivers have the responsibility to exercise due care, the pedestrians in this case, and all of the other cars, were following the law. Even if there is not a marked crosswalk, a driver must “stop and remain stopped” for a pedestrian in accordance with ORS 811.028.
When a pedestrian is hit in a crosswalk, it is generally considered the driver’s fault. However, just like everything in the law, there are exceptions. If a pedestrian was drunk and wearing dark clothes, and it was dark, the driver can sometimes escape prosecution. Or if a pedestrian darts out unexpectedly into an intersection, the law may take the driver’s side too. But in most cases, the law will consider it to be the driver’s fault, and the pedestrian or the pedestrian’s family will be able to get legal compensation – as they should.
The law is very tricky when children are injured. For example, while the standard Oregon injury case must be filed within 2 years of the accident, the statute of limitations for children, on the other hand, is not so straightforward. ORS 12.160 steps you through the process for figuring out the statute of limitations. First, the regular statute of limitations applies. Second, it doesn’t start running until the child turns 18 years old. But, third, the statute cannot be extended more than five years. And fourth, it cannot be extended beyond the child’s 19th birthday. In addition to the statute of limitations, there’s also the issue of money. Money recovered belongs to the injured child, not to his or her parents. In certain cases, a judge will need to oversee the situation to make sure this happens.
But every case is different. If you have been hurt in an accident and you have questions, contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.