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Three Unique Challenges of Pedestrian Car Crash Cases

McClatchey News recently reported on a rise in car-on-pedestrian accidents. As a Kansas City personal injury lawyer who handles pedestrian accident cases, I would like to share three of the unique challenges these types of cases face and how we can prepare for them so you can seek the justice you deserve.

We are a car culture. Car ownership is sacrosanct in America; it’s almost our God-given right to have a car in this country. According to a Pew Research Poll, in 2015, 88% of American households had a car. Because of this, jurors tend to view car-on-pedestrian or car-on-bicycle cases through the eyes of the driver. This affects these types of cases in several ways.

1. Jurors tend to require more proof than just “more likely than not”.

  • Because most jurors tend to sympathize with the driver and put themselves in their shoes, they usually require proof beyond a reasonable doubt to find against a driver.
  • This is despite the fact that the burden of proof in a civil car crash case is a preponderance of the evidence, meaning the court only needs to find that it is more likely than not that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s damages. In order to win these cases, you have to show the jury that there is no doubt the defendant driver is at fault.

2. Jurors are much harsher on pedestrian or bike rider plaintiffs when there’s evidence of comparative fault.

  • Comparative fault, or the idea that the plaintiff also shares some fault in the crash, allows a jury to split the fault between the parties, rather than an all-or-none verdict.
  • If a judge allows the defense to submit comparative fault to the jury, we have to make sure to put on ample evidence that the plaintiff was not to blame.
  • Likewise, if there is fault on the plaintiff, he or she should be willing to own up to that at trial.

3. Juries tend to give smaller verdicts in car-on-pedestrian or car-on-bicycle cases.

  • Remember, juries in these cases view them through the eyes of the defendant driver. The jurors wouldn’t want to be hit with a big judgment if they caused a crash, so they’re not going to give a big verdict in your case and set a bad precedent.
  • We combat this by showing the jury the defendant driver is not like them. They are careful, but in this case the defendant was not. They make good choices, in this case the defendant did not. This separates them from the defendant and can allow for much larger verdicts.

Car-on-pedestrian and car-on-bicycle crash cases have unique challenges. If you have questions about these types of cases, please feel free to contact me, Matt Meyerkord, at any time. I’ve handled many pedestrian accident cases in the Kansas City area and would be happy to talk.

Contact Meyerkord, Russell & Hergott for a free consultation at (816) 867-8611.

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