Police Refuse to File Charges in Pedestrian Wreck

by | Dec 16, 2021 | Car Accidents, Injuries

Few details were available about a near-fatal pedestrian wreck in Floyd County, except that the at-fault driver will not be charged with a crime.

Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt said the victim was hit by a car on State Highway1428 near Speedway just before 8:00 p.m. on December 4, 2021. According to the police report, the pedestrian stepped into traffic in front of the vehicle.

The victim was flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Virginia.

Evidence in Pedestrian Accident Claims

The police report is often the most important bit of evidence in a personal injury claim. However, in terms of pedestrian wrecks, the police accident report is usually only the starting point. 

Frequently, this report is very misleading. That’s especially true if the victim died. In these cases, the report obviously only contains one side of the story. So, if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) said the victim stepped in front of the vehicle, that’s what goes in the report. No questions asked.

As a result, it’s not unusual for emergency responders not to file charges in these situations, even if the driver was clearly at fault. These matters could be criminal cases, like vehicular assault. Nevertheless, as far as many law enforcement agencies are concerned, car wrecks are civil matters. They don’t want to get involved.

So, a Lexington personal injury lawyer must look elsewhere for evidence. That process usually begins with canvassing the area for additional witnesses. Chances are, someone not listed in the police report saw something. Frequently, people do not want to come forward at the scene, for various reasons.

The vehicle’s Event Data Recorder sometimes contains important clues as well. These gadgets record information like:

  • Steering Angle: If the tortfeasor did not swerve in the moments before the wreck, the tortfeasor probably did not see the victim. That evidence strengthens the victim’s claim for compensation.
  • Brake Application: Many tires don’t leave skid marks when the vehicle stops quickly. That’s especially true if the road is wet. The brake application information inside an EDR shows if the tortfeasor tried to avoid the wreck or not.
  • Vehicle Speed: The posted speed limit is a presumptively reasonable speed under ideal conditions. For example, a residential street’s speed limit might be 35mph. But during early mornings and late afternoons, when children are out, that speed is probably too high.

Putting all this evidence together is the next step in the process. Frequently, attorneys partner with accident reconstruction engineers and other professionals in these situations. Much like a painter uses different colors to create a picture, an accident reconstructionist uses bits of evidence to re-create an accident for a jury.

Establishing Liability

Because of the aforementioned reluctance to issue citations in these cases, the negligence per se doctrine often doesn’t apply in these cases. So, most pedestrian accident victims must use the ordinary negligence rule.

Basically, negligence is a lack of reasonable care. This concept comes from a famous 1837 case, Vaughn v. Menlove.

In ye olden days, most English houses had thatched roofs. The hay could spontaneously combust, especially on a sunny day. Therefore, all houses had ricks (chimneys), which prevented such mishaps.

The defendant’s house had a rick, but it was not properly constructed. Over the course of about a month, several people warned him of the danger. But he refused to address the problem, instead saying “he would chance it.” Lo and behold, the roof caught fire. The fire quickly spread to the plaintiff’s house.

At trial, the court noted that the defendant “had repeated warnings of what was likely to occur.” Thus, “the whole calamity was occasioned by his procrastination.”

English homeowners had a duty to be aware of their neighbor’s cottages. Likewise, drivers have a duty to look out for pedestrians. Unintentionally burning down a house is like unintentionally striking a pedestrian. The event may have been an accident. But someone has to pay for it. That someone is the negligent party.

Damages in a pedestrian accident claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. These medical bills include not only hospital expenses, but also transportation and other costs. A medevac flight to a hospital could be more than the hospital bill itself.

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act. #goodelawyers