Atlanta downtown skyline
Newsweek Leaders in Showcase Personal Injury
Super Lawyers
Martindale-Hubbell
AVVO
the National Trial Lawyers
GeorgiaTrend

Tips on Trying Pedestrian Accident Cases: Voir Dire and More

When trying a pedestrian accident case, it is important for an attorney to establish the themes of their case at the time of their first encounter with potential jurors during the voir dire process. When framing voir dire questions, an attorney should structure the questions in a manner that they test the potential jurors’ willingness to consider the plaintiff's theory of the case. It is imperative that certain themes be explored prior to selecting a jury.

When a pedestrian accident case involves a trip and fall, it is extremely important to identify those jurors who are unaccepting of the idea that a property owner should be held liable when a person is injured on their property even when the property owner is negligent. Of course, those jurors should be struck either for cause, if possible, or through a peremptory strike. It is also important to explore whether or not a potential juror has been a defendant in a lawsuit related to an accident on property or had a claim asserted against them with respect to such an incident.

It is equally important when the pedestrian accident involves an automobile collision to learn more about potential jurors’ habits or biases against pedestrians or other individuals utilizing the roadway who are not in motor vehicles. For instance, many drivers are known to have strong biases against individuals who are jogging and, in their opinion, impeding the flow of traffic. Other jurors may have biases against persons who are cycling on a roadway. An attorney representing a pedestrian should ask questions to elicit any such biases of potential jurors so that they can be struck. However, an attorney should be cautious not to identify jurors who are often pedestrians or cycling using the roadway as such individuals are likely to be struck by the defense counsel. Accordingly, the questions need to be structured in such a manner that the attorney only identifies the biases of the jurors who he wishes to strike and not those who may be favorable to his position.

A theme that an attorney representing the pedestrian can often utilize in a pedestrian accident case is that drivers have a responsibility to exercise extreme caution in areas where they know pedestrians are present. This theme should be explored during voir dire to determine whether or not any of the jurors do not agree with this general proposition. In this manner, the attorney has established at the outset a duty and responsibility for the at-fault driver to be aware of the potential for pedestrians in the area. This theme should be carried over to opening statement and woven into the evidence which does exist in the case.

Witness order is extremely important in a pedestrian accident case. A strong body of research supports the idea of not making the plaintiff the first witness on the stand. 99 LWUSA 960, Plaintiff’s should always start by attacking the defendant, new research shows “sympathy factor” only works if jury first assigns blame. Jurors have a tendency to immediately start judging the conduct of the first witness with whom they are presented and then to develop their perspective of the overall case. Id. A better approach is to place the defendant driver on the stand for purposes of cross-examination. The plaintiff’s attorney can then elicit testimony establishing the defendant's knowledge that pedestrians may have been present in the area, the need to maintain a diligent lookout for pedestrians when traveling in the area of the accident and the fact that the defendant did not see the pedestrian with adequate time to stop. All questions to the at-fault driver should be extremely tailored in such a manner that only questions are asked which the attorney knows the answer based upon the defendant’s deposition.

The attorney should then proceed building the case supporting a defendant's liability with other witnesses in the early part of the trial. For instance, if there is valuable eyewitness testimony establishing the negligent conduct of the defendant, such witnesses should be called shortly after the Defendant has testified. Likewise, if the plaintiff has an expert witness who has reconstructed the accident, they can also be a valuable early witness in the trial. Having established the jurors perspective of judging the at-fault driver and having heard extensive testimony that he or she is liable for the accident, it is then safe to introduce the testimony of the plaintiff who can further corroborate the perspective of the jury which already exists that the at-fault driver caused the collision and then explain the injuries they suffered as a result of the defendant's negligence.

In closing argument, it is extremely important that the themes which were established in voir dire and opening statement, and throughout the trial, are then brought together in a cohesive manner for the jury. At this juncture, hopefully the majority of persons on the jury are already convinced of the defendant driver’s responsibility for the pedestrian accident. The plaintiff’s attorney’s closing argument therefore should help solidify their already existing perspective regarding the cause of the accident and, importantly, provide them with substantial factual support which they can utilize in the jury room to convince any jurors who are not fully persuaded regarding the at-fault driver's conduct. It is important that an attorney not ignore the importance of obtaining jury charges that can be effectively used during closing arguments. For instance, any statute or case law which supports the position that it is the driver’s ultimate duty to identify the presence of a pedestrian and to use such caution to avoid the collision is extremely valuable to the pedestrian’s attorney when making their closing argument. SC-JICIV 28-22, Anderson, S.C. Request to charge – Civil, Sect. 28-22 (2009), Motor vehicles – due care for pedestrians.

Overall, pedestrian accident cases, while often presenting challenging and complex issues, are extremely important litigation for an attorney representing individuals who have suffered personal injury. Generally, the injuries which arise from a pedestrian accident are severe and life-altering for the individual. Accordingly, an attorney carries a great burden to do his or her utmost best to investigate the case, minimize or negate potential defenses prior to litigation commencing, if possible, and to handle the claim and/or litigation in such a manner that it creates such great risk for the defendant and/or their insurance company that the matter is resolved without the necessity of a trial. However, if the case does need to be tried, an attorney who has properly evaluated the case prior to accepting it, thoroughly investigated the case and appropriately mitigated any defenses, has placed themselves in an excellent position to obtain a favorable outcome for their client.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
I was in a head-on collision last year that put me in a wheelchair with a fractured femur. I needed an attorney and my cousin recommended this firm because he had used Briant Mildenhall for his accident. I was glad I called Briant because he always did what he said he would do and kept me informed. We settled with the insurance company and I'm happy with the result. If someone I know needs an attorney, I will tell them to call Briant because he will get the job done. Michael G.
★★★★★
After a head–on collision I had extremely serious injuries to my back and neck, and some internal injuries. I was airlifted to the hospital and started a huge amount of medical expenses accumulating. I hired a lawyer recommended by a friend but I was not satisfied. My cousin told me about this firm so I talked to Briant Mildenhall about handling the case. I was at ease from the get–go. Briant kept me informed all the way through, was always reassuring and did everything he said he would do. He helped us get the money we needed to get the treatment we needed. Briant was fantastic! Ronda W. (Car Accident)
★★★★★
I was in a car accident that was complicated from the start. I looked on the internet and called a few different lawyers but they turned me down after they heard my story. When I called this firm Lyn Dodson asked me to talk to her in person. I met with Lyn and Rob Katz and after hearing my story they were confident I had a case. They vigorously pursued my case and over time we built a trusting relationship. Lyn even took time to help me with the traffic issues and other aspects of the case. They were always on my side and talked to me about the advantages and disadvantages of my options... Robert W. (Car Accident)
★★★★★
After my car accident, I was looking for an attorney and came across the name Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall LLC. My intuition told me to call. I called in and Briant Mildenhall talked to me. He was very clear and honest about my options. As the case went forward, Briant and the staff at the law office always answered my questions right away. I was very confident in Briant's legal ability. He kept me informed every step of the way. I would recommend Mr. Mildenhall and the firm to anyone who needs an attorney. Antonio J. (Car Accident)
★★★★★
I would recommend the law firm of Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall LLC. Lyn Dodson was my attorney after my auto accident. I had confidence in her legal abilities and experience. She did a very good job for me. She was always there to answer the many questions I asked. The firm is very professional. Lyn always gave you her undivided attention. The firm, especially Lyn, worked with you like a long time friend. Joe B. (Auto Accident)
★★★★★
I am 100% satisfied. I called Rob the day after the accident. Everything he said that would happen did, every step of the way. He went beyond what we needed him to do. I would definitely use him again and recommend him to anyone who needs a lawyer. Steve H.
★★★★★
Robert Katz isn't your average personal injury lawyer. He has specialized knowledge and experience that the others don't. Timothy W. (Trucking Accident)
★★★★★
I have nothing but good and positive things to say about Rob. One of the unique things about my case was that I was involved in a bicycle accident with another biker. He took an unorthodox case between two bicycle riders and he could see the logic and liability in it. I was very happy with the result. Rodney H. (Bicycle Accident)
★★★★★
We just loved him to death. He acted like he cared about us, not just our case. He kept us posted on everything. He even called us on Sundays to update us. My case involved a rear-end collision where I had herniated disks and I had had a prior back injury. Complicated as it was, we were very happy with the outcome. Kathy H. (Car accident)
★★★★★
Throughout the course of my case, Mr. Katz kept me informed about its status, returned my telephone calls and was very attentive to my needs and concerns. Simply put, he cared not just about my case, but about me. Joseph B.
★★★★★
I was, and still am, extremely satisfied with Rob's work and with the outcome of my case. Rob strives to be there for his clients, and I was no exception...I would happily recommend Rob to anyone who is seeking legal assistance after suffering a severe injury. Joey E.
Contact Us

1 Free Consultation

2 No Obligation

3 150 Years Combined Experience

Complete the contact form or call us at (888) 426-2100 to schedule your free consultation.

I have read the disclaimer. (Required)
Please note that sending us a message via our website or any other online property does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and any lawyer at Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall LLC.
Captcha Image