$1,500,000 Award

May 2016:  An improperly conducted police vehicular pursuit and improper police procedures matter settled for $1,500,000 prior to trial.

The matter involved an unmarked police vehicle in pursuit of a speeding vehicle.  During the course of the 31-second, three-tenths of a mile pursuit, the police vehicle attained speeds up to 74 mph in a 25 mph residential neighborhood.  While attempting to apprehend the vehicle, the police vehicle struck a not-involved passing vehicle in an intersection.  The passing vehicle overturned and the driver sustained serious injuries.  The speeding vehicle was never apprehended.

Steve was retained to investigate the police pursuit and subsequent crash, and to evaluate the actions of the pursuing police officer in the light of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Police Vehicular Pursuit Guidelines.

In his investigation, Steve used downloaded data from the police vehicle’s Event Data Recorder (black box), and merged it with GPS data from the same police vehicle’s dash camera, and merged that data with information from video files taken from a nearby home surveillance camera system.  When all data were combined, Steve was able to identify with precision the police officer’s actions and inactions during his identification of the speeding vehicle, the pursuit of the vehicle and the crash involving the passing vehicle.

Steve’s investigation of the pursuit found that the investigating police officer failed to conduct an appropriately comprehensive investigation of the pursuit and the actions of the pursuing police officer.  A subsequent report was authored where commentary regarding appropriate police procedures was made.

The case particulars were published in the May 2016 Edition of New Jersey Jury Verdict Review and Analysis.  Click HERE to view the summary and analysis.

Who Had The Green Light?

Who had the green light? A primer on the determination of the aspect of the traffic light in intersection accident investigations.

Who had the green light? This is usually the very first question that comes to mind when a motor vehicle collision occurs at a traffic light controlled intersection. When photographic evidence is not available, a method of investigation may be employed that may either identify or suggest which driver had the green light. This method inserts numerical data gleaned from police incident reports and verified statements into situation-specific mathematical formulae. The calculations are then reviewed in light of the circumstances surrounding the accident and a determination may be made. The degree of certainty of the green light determination is related directly to the availability and credibility of evidence and information.

In order to make a green light determination an involved driver must answer five situation specific questions. The answers to the questions following must, to the extent possible, be both accurate and true. Inaccurate, incomplete or false statements cannot be verified or be corroborated. Uncorroborated statements usually do not produce litigation-appropriate evidence.

1) Describe in detail the intersection, the placement of the traffic signals and the roads leading to it. Familiarity with the characteristics of roads approaching the intersection may suggest if grades or curves, or other obstructions prohibited or delayed a driver’s direct observation of the light(s).

2) Where were you? A determination of a vehicle’s spatial relationship to the intersection at the time the light was initially observed is required. Also required is knowledge of the cycling and timing of the traffic signal. The timing of the light cycle defines the time available for vehicles to legally and safely pass through the intersection.

3) How fast were you going? Knowing if a vehicle’s speed was varying or constant affects the degree of certainty of the determination.

4) Did you hear something? The identification of any sounds heard by a driver prior to the collision may provide insight into the spatial relationship between the involved vehicles. Especially important are sounds such as horns, sliding or skidding tires or any other sounds indicative of an impending collision.

5) Describe the damage to your vehicle. A description of the damage sustained by one or both vehicles may provide insight as to the spatial relationship of the vehicles when they entered the intersection. Knowledge of which vehicle entered the intersection first may be help helpful in making a determination.

After information relating to time, distance and speed has been identified and analyzed, verified numerical data is placed into appropriate mathematical formulae. A number of different equations can be used to calculate different aspects of the approach to the traffic signal. Once calculations have been completed the resulting answers are then considered in accordance with the timing and sequencing of the traffic signal; the damage sustained by the vehicle(s) and the sounds possibly heard prior to the collision. At that point a green light determination can be made.

The Westfield Investigative Group, LLC is a full-service accident investigation service that is able to determine who had the green light using traditional investigative and mathematically-based methodologies. Our investigative methodologies have been used successfully employed in both intersection accidents as well as other non-accident situations. We adhere to best practices and employ all appropriate means to attain favorable results for our clients. Please see our website www.westfieldinvestigative.com for additional information about us and the accident reconstruction and collision-related investigative services we provide.

Published Article

April 2014:  “Boating Collisions… A ‘Typical’ Collision Reconstructionist Will Not Do,” was published in the Spring 2014 edition of the American Boat and Yacht Council’s quarterly periodical  the Reference Point.  The article is an expanded version of the December 2012 In Brief article.

$950,000 Award

March 2014:  Steve offered testimony in a binding arbitration hearing before a retired judge.  In 2010, a passenger aboard a pleasure vessel sustained a serious back injury when she, another passenger and the vessel’s operator were launched from their positions within a fast-moving vessel.  The three were launched when the vessel’s operator improperly steered the vessel toward a large swell to engage it bow on.  The judge found that the vessel operator failed to abide of the ordinary practice of seamen when he applied an unsafe vessel maneuvering technique to transit the swell and when he failed to appropriately prepare for the cruise.  The seriously injured passenger was awarded $950,000.

Boating Accident Instructor

February 2014:  Steve co-instructed a block of instruction on boating accident investigation and reconstruction.  The instruction was offered at the International Association of Marine Investigators (IAMI) Annual Training Seminar in Oklahoma City, OK.  Steve is an IAMI member and an IAMI Certified Marine Investigator.

Published Article

December 2013:  “Boating In New Jersey … The Least You Need To Know,” was published in the December 2013 edition of the New Jersey Association for Justice’s  monthly periodical In Brief.  This article lists the requirements for persons desiring to operate pleasure vessels upon New Jersey waters.

Published Article

December 2012:  “Boating Accidents… A ‘Typical” Accident Reconstructionist Will Not Do,” was published in the December 2012 edition of the New Jersey Association for Justice’s  monthly periodical In Brief.  The article lists the attributes a “qualified” boating accident reconstructionist should have.