But officer, I was in the Crosswalk!
This is meant to follow up on the recent studies focused on trying to figure out why drivers run down pedestrians in crosswalks during right or left hand turns. Trucks are particularly notorious for doing this due to their many blind spots.
A recent newspaper article brought to mind my experiences with what I refer to as “the pedestrian as an immovable object” problem. Basic physics dictate that in a collision “mass wins”. This means the big object, in these cases the car or truck, wins in the collision. As a result pedestrians struck in crosswalks are RARELY if ever still in the crosswalk after they are hit.
In some cases the pedestrian is knocked out of his or her shoes. Unfortunately, in many cases all we know is that the pedestrian had no shoes when admitted to the hospital. In one case the “witnesses” were critical of the victim because “she was outside with no shoes on”. None of them thought that perhaps she was literally knocked out of her shoes, as she was.
A common phenomenon is that “witnesses” hear the collision or the screech of brakes. Only then do they look. What they see is the pedestrian lying in the street sometimes far from the crosswalk. The natural conclusion is the pedestrian was jay walking. Of course the fact that the car is stopped mid-crosswalk or just past it, is over looked. In these cases the police report claims the pedestrian was not in the crosswalk. That conclusion is false. It is impossible for a pedestrian to stop a car or truck. Physics won’t allow it.
When the point of impact is within the crosswalk, even at low speeds, it is virtually impossible for the pedestrian to remain in the crosswalk. In one case no fewer than four “eye witnesses” told the officer the pedestrian was running across the street outside the crosswalk. Interviews showed not a single one had actually seen the pedestrian prior to hearing the impact, they then saw her flying through the air. The jeep that hit her was stopped with its over half its length still in the crosswalk.
These cases can be very difficult. The authorities cannot be counted on to perform a complete investigation. They simply don’t have time and their job is to determine if a prosecutable crime was committed. That means proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases the standard is “more likely than not”. The longer the time between the accident and beginning a real investigation the harder it can be to determine the actual point of impact.
It is amazing how few people understand the physics of a collision. To get past this problem hiring an experienced personal injury attorney, SOON after the collision is essential. Nothing can be taken for granted. Just as in motorcycle cases, the eye witness testimony cannot be trusted and a careful and prompt investigation is essential.
Often pedestrian cases will either be rejected by attorneys based on the police conclusion the pedestrian was not in the crosswalk or will be considered a “slam dunk” when the police get it right. As a result evidence is not documented and witnesses not located and interviewed until, “surprise” liability is denied.
Next, “Was the pedestrian dragged?”