Tractor-Trailer versus Pedestrian: Whose Story Makes Sense?

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Steven M. Schorr, PE ::::

Case Synopsis: The plaintiff, a pedestrian, had parked his tractor-trailer in a truck stop and proceeded to walk to the facility to get some coffee. While traversing the parking lot, the plaintiff came in contact with the trailer portion of a moving tractor-trailer located in the parking lot. The plaintiff claimed that he saw the defendant’s tractor-trailer coming, changed his direction slightly, but continued walking toward the facility.  The plaintiff also stated that as the plaintiff was walking, the defendant, the tractor-trailer operator, executed a left-hand turn into a parking stall and the off-tracking trailer struck the plaintiff. The defendant testified that as his tractor-trailer was moving straight through the parking lot, he passed the plaintiff who was walking towards the facility. The defendant also testified that the location where he was turning into the parking stall was over hundred feet past where the plaintiff was standing, and that his tractor-trailer was not in the process of turning when he was passing the plaintiff.

Expert Analysis: Utilizing the plaintiff’s testimony as to where he was located in the parking lot, relative to the testimony as to the location of the parking stall that was being accessed by the tractor-trailer, specifications of the tractor-trailer helped establish the range of reasonable turning paths required for a tractor hauling a 53-foot trailer to move properly into the parking stall. The path of the tractor-trailer was plotted, to-scale, onto a to-scale aerial image illustrating that the turn required for the defendant tractor-trailer operator to move the vehicle into the parking stall did not begin until well after the plaintiff’s identified point of impact location. That is, a scientific evaluation of the turning path of the tractor-trailer established that the plaintiff’s description of how the collision occurred could not have been accurate. The to-scale plot of the physics-based turning path of the tractor-trailer was utilized as a two-dimensional and three-dimensional demonstrative exhibit.

Result: Defense counsel utilizing the above noted analysis to effectively cross examine the plaintiff’s expert.  The case was settled after the opposing expert testified. 

Steven M. Schorr, PE, President of DJS Associates, can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or by phone at 215-659-2010.

 

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