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Hit-and-Run Driver Seriously Injures Bronx Pedestrian

Pianko Law Group
Maurice Pianko 
April 27, 2022

Police have few clues as they search for a man driving a stolen flatbed who barrelled over a pedestrian and didn’t stop.

The accident happened near the intersection of East 238th Street and White Plains Road. According to police, a man driving a stolen flatbed truck hit a pedestrian, causing “severe bodily trauma,” before he slammed into a utility pole about three blocks away.

A camera near the utility pole caught a glimpse of the driver, who was a bald man in his late 50s or early 60s. So, police have been able to narrow the list of suspects to about two million people.

Injuries to Pedestrians

Pedestrians only make up about 1 percent of the traffic on New York streets. Yet almost 10 percent of roadway fatalities are pedestrians. After breaking down the injuries that pedestrians often sustain in motor vehicle wrecks, it’s easy to see why the fatality numbers are disproportionately high.

  • Head Injuries: When a vehicle strikes a pedestrian and the victim falls, blood pools between the scalp and skull. The resulting injury is basically a combination of blood loss, which is listed below, and a head injury. The blood bulge caves in the skull, and that kills brain cells.
  • Exsanguination: Excessive blood loss could come from an aforementioned head injury. Additionally, the motion of a wreck causes internal organs to grind and bump against each other. The friction often causes immense bleeding. Internal organs have no protective skin layer.
  • Broken Bones: We were all devastated beyond belief when journeyman Mike Glennon, who had a 0.0 quarterback rating in a game against the Bears, broke his wrist and missed the last game of the Giants’ latest train wreck season. He recovered from his injury. But many pedestrian accident victims never fully recover from their broken bones.

The doctor bills alone in cases like this usually run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Ancillary medical costs, like transportation and prescription drugs, could be almost as high. If money is an issue for victims, and it usually is, a New York personal injury lawyer connects victims with doctors who charge nothing upfront.

Hit-and-Run Wreck Issues

Back in the day, police officers doubled as private investigators. They didn’t just chase bad guys. They also tracked down runaway spouses and stepped in during get-off-my-lawn property disputes. Today, however, law enforcement officers don’t have the time or the inclination to get involved in such matters. Instead, they leave civil disputes to private parties. As far as they are concerned, a vehicle collision, even a hit-and-run wreck, is a civil matter.

Additionally, a hit-and-run wreck is usually a very time consuming matter. Unless tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are caught near the scene or voluntarily come in on their own, it’s almost impossible to find them. Furthermore, apprehending the tortfeasor is only the beginning. Police officers must collect enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s the highest legal standard of evidence in New York.

From the perspective of a New York personal injury lawyer, these two issues both look a lot different.

Attorneys have a legal responsibility to represent clients to the utmost. Lawyers swear an oath to do whatever it takes, within the law, to obtain the best possible outcome for their clients. In an injury claim, the best outcome is maximum compensation for yoru serious injuries. Many times, a lawyer sinks so much time and so many resources into a case that the lawyer loses money on the transaction. But if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.

Additionally, the burden of proof in a civil claim is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Assume Desi and Lucy are walking down the street when a hit-and-run driver strikes Lucy. Desi got a pretty good look at the driver. In criminal court, Desi’s testimony might not hold water, since he and Lucy were married. But in civil court, since the burden of proof is lower, Desi’s testimony might be sufficient.

Tracking Down the Tortfeasor

The bottom line is that the mountain is so hard to climb and police officers have such a poor attitude that they usually give up pretty quickly. But a personal injury attorney keeps working. This work involves running down additional leads, like:

  • Surveillance Video Footage: Camera footage, even if it’s far from the scene and not especially compelling, is often critical in these cases. If Camera A records a brown truck hitting a pedestrian and Camera B, which is a couple of miles away, records the license plate number of a brown truck, it’s more likely than not that Camera A and B spotted the same brown truck. 
  • Stakeout: There’s absolutely nothing glamorous about sitting in one place all day and waiting for a brown truck to pass through an intersection. But, stakeouts are often effective in these cases, especially after a surface street accident. Most people follow pretty much the same travel patterns every day and night.
  • Additional Witness Statements: Many people don’t want to talk to police officers. Maybe they have their own legal issues, maybe they don’t feel their statements are important, or maybe they just don’t like cops. But these individuals are usually willing to talk to a personal injury lawyer who represents a victim. Anything the witness saw, such as a brief glimpse of a passenger vehicle, could be critical.

The lower burden of proof comes into play. It’s a lot easier to establish facts in civil court. Prosecutors must positively identify drivers to get convictions. Personal injury attorneys must vaguely identify owners to obtain maximum compensation. It’s more likely than not that, at a particular time, the vehicle’s owner was behind the wheel.

This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain  and suffering. Additional punitive damages are available as well, in some extreme cases.

Incidentally, these principles also apply to stolen hit-and-run vehicles. Frequently, “stolen” is a euphemism for “taken without actual permission.” These two things are different. Additionally, other legal theories, like negligent entrustment, often apply in these cases.Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact the Pianko Law Group, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

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