Last month, young Isaac Manica of Shawnee, Kansas was severely injured when a car, driving down the road in front of his house hit a parked car which in turn struck him while he was playing in his front yard. Fortunately, according to a recent news update, Isaac awakened from the coma he has been in since the collision and is on the road to recovery.
Several other car vs. pedestrian wrecks have made headlines in the past year, including another one in Johnson County which received heavy news coverage, involving the death of an older woman who was struck by a vehicle which swerved off the street hitting her as she worked in her front yard.
Each time I hear about a new injury or death involving a pedestrian, it takes me back to the several cases I have been involved in as an attorney representing the injured person or the family of a lost loved one who was hit by a car. Liability in such cases most of the time is pretty straightforward, car hits person, car at fault. However, it is not always so clear. Take the case of a young girl I represented who was walking home on the shoulder of a road during late evening hours wearing dark clothing and was hit by a car from behind. Clearly, the car who hit her should not have been driving on the shoulder, but should the girl have been held responsible for walking in the dark wearing dark colored clothing? Fortunately, in her case we were able to show that the driver of the vehicle would have had ample time to have seen the girl in its headlights and correct its course to avoid hitting her if they had in fact been driving the speed limit called for on that road.
Sometimes in such cases, the question is not one of liabilty, but of the extent of harm done to the person. Surprisingly, injuries in these types of cases can vary widely, from devastating spinal cord injuries to mere bumps and bruises. Sometimes the real damage cannot even be easily seen, such as in the case of a traumatic brain injury.
While each of the car vs. pedestrian cases I have worked on in the past have had their own unique facts and challenges, they all shared the tragic commonality of lives forever changed by an event which was completely unexpected and unforeseen.