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What's Wrong with this Picture

This is a sketch from a police report which supposedly depicts that my client was “not in a crosswalk” (see the “POI”—the point of impact) when she was struck by a left-turning car.

She was badly injured. What’s worse, if the drawing was accepted as correct, she could be “doubly damaged” by: one: the physical damage to her body; and two: the financial damages to her if she was unable to recover from the insurance company of the lady who hit her.

She had incurred medical bills and lost wages. She also suffered the less tangible, but also very real losses of mobility and independence. Then she decided to call us.

I had seen these types of cases before, often mis-labeled as “dart out” cases in the police reports.  It had seemed to me that the police officers who investigate these cases and write reports about them—reports that can have a tremendous impact on the lives of the injured pedestrians—needed to go back and re-read their Physics 101 textbooks.

We don’t really need to get into the weeds here with Newton’s First and Second Laws of Motion.  It should be common sense that when a 2,000-pound car, travelling at 10 or 15 mph, strikes a human weighing 200 pounds or less, the human will be thrown in the direction the car is moving. (Sometimes it’s not just the impact that takes the pedestrian out of the crosswalk: sometimes they are “carried” by the car, and fall off when the car brakes).

Fortunately, in this case, the insurance adjuster did understand the physics of the event, and we were able to obtain proper compensation for our client.

We were helped in persuading the adjuster by demonstrating with satellite views of the area that our client could only have been in the crosswalk, given the place where she parked her car, and the location of her workplace. Her path would never have taken her to the supposed “POI” in the sketch. (The “point of impact” was, in actuality, the place where she was found—lying in the street).

This same scenario presented itself in a much more tragic way when a pedestrian was killed—again by a left-turning vehicle. Again, the police report had the decedent/pedestrian “darting out” and the “point of impact” being many feet from the crosswalk.

Immediately after being retained by the family (all of whom were emphatic that their loved one was very conscientious about crossing streets in the crosswalk) we sent letters to the businesses in the area, asking them to preserve any surveillance videos.

Sure enough, one of the businesses had a video of the decedent stepping off the curb, onto the crosswalk.

The insurance carrier for the driver, when presented with the clear evidence that the police report was wrong, did the right thing and tendered their insurance policy.

There have been many other examples of this that I’m aware of.

One of the take-aways from this is that, even while you’re in a supposedly protected zone while crossing a street while in a crosswalk, you can be extra-safe by keeping your eyes on that car that looks like it’s going to turn left.

The other take-away is that, if you were struck by a car while you were in the crosswalk, but the police report say you weren’t, there might be a way to prove otherwise.

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