Authorities are still trying to piece together the events that led to a serious pedestrian-car crash in West New York.
72-year-old Nicolas Valencia was rushed to the hospital with a serious head injury after he was struck by 22-year-old Francis Clerie, who was behind the wheel of a 2000 Nissan Altima. Mr. Valencia was attempting to cross 62nd Street near Kennedy Boulevard, but police are not sure if he was in the crosswalk. They are reviewing surveillance video from a nearby building as they search for clues, although they do not believe that distracted driving or speeding contributed to the crash.
No charges are pending against Ms. Clerie; Mr. Valencia appears to be recovering at the hospital.
Evidence in a Car Crash Case
As a rule of thumb, eyewitness testimony is the best evidence, mostly because the jury expects to hear this kind of evidence and, as another rule of thumb, irregularity creates doubt. But these are only rules of thumb, because sometimes eyewitness testimony is either unavailable or is not the best available evidence.
In these situations, lawyers often use an Event Data Recorder to fill in the gaps. Around 90 percent of passenger cars have an EDR, which is similar to the “black box” in a commercial airplane. The data that an EDR records could be very useful in a crash like the one described above. Some of the information that this device measures includes:
- Steering Angle: Many pedestrian-car crashes occur when the driver is turning left and surveying crossways traffic instead of looking forward.
- Velocity: Authorities do not believe that speed was a factor, but there is only one way to know for sure.
- Brake Application: The later the driver applied the brakes, the more likely it is that the driver did not see the pedestrian.
Due to privacy laws, a non-owner generally cannot access an EDR without a court order. There is another legal issue as well. If the insurance company destroys the car, which usually occurs, the EDR is lost. So, an attorney will send a spoliation letter. This document puts the owner or agent on notice that evidence, including the EDR, must be preserved.
Victims in a car crash case are often entitled to compensation for both economic damages, like hospital bills, and noneconomic damages, like loss of consortium.
Evidence collection is an indispensable part of a successful negligence case. For a free consultation with attorneys who get to work quickly on your claim, contact our office. We have six locations statewide.