Robert J. Nobilini, Ph.D., Biomechanical Engineer
Case Synopsis: A pedestrian was crossing the road when he was struck by a passing vehicle. The plaintiff stated that he had a green light, looked both ways, and stepped out into the street when he noticed the defendant’s vehicle approaching at a high rate of speed. The plaintiff testified that when he observed the vehicle, he attempted to jump back, but his right leg was struck by the front passenger side corner of the defendant’s vehicle. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff ran out into the roadway from between two parked cars and into the rear passenger side of his vehicle.
Expert Analysis: Photographs of the defendant’s vehicle revealed swipe marks on the passenger side, which started on the front fender and door. These marks were consistent with dirt being wiped from the side of the vehicle.
The plaintiff incurred a comminuted fracture of his right tibia and fibula at the distal third of his lower leg. Photographs of the plaintiff’s right leg showed lacerations/abrasions to the medial side of the middle and upper tibia of his right leg. There was also an obvious deformation of the lower leg with the distal end of the leg rotated in the medial direction.
The comminuted nature of the plaintiff’s leg fractures was consistent with a high energy impact. The abrasions on the medial side of the tibia and the orientation of the fractures were consistent with a medial-to-lateral directed impact to the middle of the lower leg. The nature of the impact was consistent with the plaintiff being struck by the passenger side corner of the front bumper of the defendant’s vehicle while he was weight bearing and pushing off to move back out of the path of the vehicle. The impact would have caused the plaintiff’s body to rotate clockwise, causing his body to contact the side of the vehicle, consistent with the swipe marks that were on the front passenger side of the vehicle.
Photographs of the rear passenger side of the defendant’s vehicle revealed that there were no protruding edges that would have been consistent with the fracture the plaintiff incurred. The only possible point of contact would have been the rear tire. However, there were no tire marks on the plaintiff’s clothing and/or leg. Furthermore, had the plaintiff’s leg been struck by the tire, his right foot would have been run over by the tire, which did not occur.
Based upon the available evidence, it was determined that the plaintiff was struck by the front passenger side corner of the defendant’s vehicle, which was consistent with the testimony of the plaintiff and was inconsistent with the testimony of the defendant.
Result: Case settled.
Robert J. Nobilini, Ph.D., Biomechanical Engineer with DJS Associates, Inc., can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.