A car crash attorney made an interesting motion at a trial of an auto accident case.
Ms. Kuldeep K. Saini hired the car crash attorney to sue a driver who struck her while she was walking. Here are selections from the appeals court ruling:
One February night, at about 4:45 a.m., Saini was walking to work, northbound on Route 41, in Deptford Township. The road has one lane in each direction, separated by a double yellow line. There was about one foot of snow on the ground. The footpath that services pedestrians was impassable due to the accumulation of snow. There was also snow on the road’s shoulder.
Ms. Saini testified at trial that she was walking closer to the footpath than the center yellow line. She was proceeding against traffic. There was a light rain that morning. But Saini could see drivers in their cars as they passed. She was wearing a coat with a hood and carried a yellow umbrella.
Saini saw the headlights of a snow plow in front of her. As it passed, its driver told her to move aside. She continued to walk, and the next thing she remembered was waking up in the hospital.
Witness Testifies He Gave Warning.
Anthony Oelenschlager was the operator of the snow plow. He was salting the roads.
According to Oelenschlager, he barely saw Saini, until she was approximately thirty feet away. As he approached, he rolled down his window, beeped his horn, and told her to get off the road because she was going to get hit. Saini continued walking after Oelenschlager’s warning.
Frank L. Lampe testified that he was driving a compact car southbound on Route 41 at approximately thirty-five miles per hour. He left for work at about 5:15 a.m. Lampe was headed toward Deptford. It was still dark and a little foggy at the time. However, Lampe’s car did not have difficulty operating in the weather conditions.
As Lampe drove, he came to a portion of Route 41 that contained multiple lanes for turning. As he moved into the right lane to make a turn, something appeared in front of him. Approximately ten to twenty feet ahead, Lampe saw a person walking toward him in the middle of the right lane. He pressed on his brakes immediately. He turned his steering wheel sharply to the left. However, the right side of his car made contact with Saini.
Saini’s car crash attorney sued Lampe. Prior to the start of trial testimony, the car crash attorney made a motion to exclude Oelenschlager’s testimony. The car crash attorney argued that Oelenschlager’s testimony about seeing Saini walking down the middle of the street could not be used to show that Saini was still walking there when the accident occurred. But the trial judge allowed the testimony over the objection of the car crash attorney. The judge found that Oelenschlager’s testimony was relevant and would not unfairly prejudice the jury.
Car Crash Attorney Tries to Stop Jury From Seeing Google Maps
During the trial, Lampe’s attorney showed the jury aerial Google Maps photographs of the area where the collision occurred. The photographs did not depict snow or reflect the road conditions at the time of the accident. Saini’s car crash attorney objected to the admission of the photographs. The car crash attorney argued that the photographs did not reflect the snowy conditions at the time of the accident.
The trial judge admitted the photographs. But the judge gave a limiting instruction to the jury. The judge told the jury “You’re looking at them with a view that it gives you a general configuration of the road…. You’re quite aware that you’ve heard testimony with regard to the snow-covered ground and you will be guided accordingly when reviewing the evidence in this matter.”
The jury found Lampe not responsible for Saini’s injuries. An appeal followed.
The appeals court ruled that the trial court properly admitted Oelenschlager’s testimony. The appeals judges noted that testimony about a party’s conduct just prior to an accident is relevant evidence.
The appellate court similarly found no error in showing the jury the Google Maps photographs. Even though they did not depict snow, Lampe’s lawyer only used the pictures to demonstrate the layout of the road to the jury.
Therefore, the appeals court rejected the appeal of Saini’s car crash attorney. The appeals judges upheld the jury’s verdict.
How to Protect Yourself
The moral of the story is that one shouldn’t walk in the middle of the road at night. Moreover, if one has to walk at that time, one should wear reflective gear. These precautions will reduce the chances of an accident. Had Ms. Saini taken these precautions, she likely would not have been hit. If somehow she was hit, despite taking these precautions, she likely would have won compensation at her trial.