Accidents happen. That is also true for accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians. Attorneys experienced in handling pedestrian injury cases are adept at understanding not only the mechanics of the accident, the insurance issues, and the medical aspects of the injuries to the pedestrian, but also the psychology of the individuals involved. They understand all too well the tendency of people to sometimes remember events in a way that is consistent with their own self-image, an image of someone who is a careful driver, of someone who is not capable of causing harm to someone else. And they realize that when this happens sometimes all you need to bring out the truth is a little bit of common sense.
Consider the example provided by the following two cases:
In this case a 75 year old male pedestrian was hit while crossing the street to get back to his double-parked car. The victim suffered multiple fractures including fractures to his shoulder, collarbone and to his ankle for which he required surgery that consisted of the insertion of screws and a metal plate. The 75 year old victim had been an active man prior to the accident. He was even working as a messenger. Following the accident his lifestyle changed dramatically.
According to the victim he was crossing the street in the middle of the block. According to the defendant the victim suddenly came out from between two parked vehicles and literally ran into the side of her van. Yet the driver refused to produce any evidence of the damage he claimed the victim caused to the side of her van. The damage that clearly did take place to her van was a cracked windshield. Despite the inconsistency in the driver's version of the accident and the severity of the injuries to the victim the driver's insurance company refused to settle the pedestrian's claim. The law firm that handled this case took it to trial and obtained a verdict of $475,000 on behalf of the victim.
In this case a 71 year old woman was the victim of a motor vehicle accident. She was a pedestrian who was hit by a van. As a result of the accident she suffered a fracture o the right occipital bone. She also suffered fractures to her right knee. This injury required an open reduction with internal fixation. Further, she suffered a subdural hematoma. She was half-way through a crosswalk that was controlled by a traffic light when she was struck. The vehicle that hit her had been stopped for a red light prior to entering the intersection.
The victim claimed that when she entered the crosswalk she had a steady go signal which turned to a flashing red light while she was in the crosswalk and was struck by the driver. The driver claimed that he did not enter the intersection until the light turned green for him. The driver even produced two witnesses to state that the light was green for the driver when the accident occurred. The law firm that handled this matter took the position that regardless of whether the driver had a green light or not, the victim was already in the middle of the crosswalk and thus had the right of way when the driver entered the crosswalk. He should have been focused with the victim in front of him rather than with the traffic light to his left. The law firm was able to obtain a settlement shortly before trial for $300,000, the entire amount of the van's insurance policy.
As these cases illustrate drivers will sometimes come up with versions of the accident that seem to justify their action at the time and put blame on the victim. A bit of common sense is usually all one needs to demonstrate that the accident either could not have happened according to the driver's version or that even if it did that version does not absolve the driver of responsibility for what happened. This is what apparently happened in the second case example above.
Unfortunately, there are times when the claims adjuster for the driver's insurance company adapts the driver's version even after faced with a clear showing of fault of the part of the driver. When this happens there is often little choice but to take the case to trial.
In my own experience with these situations it is usually the better course to avoid the temptation to bring in an accident reconstruction expert. There are times when such a expert is absolutely necessary but experience should guide the attorney in determining when to use that expert. For many cases it is best to not underestimate the jury. Juries are generally very smart and have good common sense. Present the evidence for them in a way that helps them relate it to their own experience and they will cut through the driver's version. That seems to be exactly what happened in the first case example above.