Motor Vehicle Accident/Pedestrian Knockdown

This is an accident case where although there were witnesses and both the police and fire departments responded to the scene, no one noted or took down any information of the vehicle that struck our client. A Brooklyn unemployed man was crossing Avenue P between Ocean Parkway and East 5th Street when a commercial van knocked him down while standing in the middle of the street waiting to cross. Our investigation revealed that both the police and fire departments responded to the accident scene. When we attempted to get the police report, the local precinct informed us that no report was ever generated for this accident. We obtained the incident report from the Fire Department, which showed that the 76th Precinct had responded to the scene. We called the 76th Precinct to advise them of what the Fire Department's incident report indicated. Notwithstanding confirmation from the Fire Department that the precinct had responded, they still claimed that there was no report generated for this accident by any of their officers. Part of our investigation included a canvass of the area for possible witnesses and for any neighborhood surveillance cameras. Our investigator learned that there was a surveillance camera positioned on a nearby synagogue, which was recording at the time of the accident. We contacted the synagogue and were able to obtain a copy of the surveillance tape footage that indeed showed that a police car had stopped a white commercial van at the very place where our client was injured. Unfortunately, the quality of the surveillance tape did not allow us to identify the vehicle or the license plate of the van. We contacted NYPD headquarters and advised them that we needed to obtain a transcript of the 911 call, which would identify which precinct and patrol car were directed to respond to the accident. We received a call from the sergeant in charge of the Freedom of Information Law Department who instructed us to call the precinct and demand to speak to the captain who is required to provide this information without going through the lengthy process of getting the information from headquarters. Our demand to speak to the captain was redirected to a lieutenant in the precinct. We explained to the lieutenant that we were getting the run-around notwithstanding the fact that we had the Fire Department incident report that confirmed that his precinct had responded to the scene of the accident and that we had a video footage of the police car that responded to the accident. However, for some inexplicable reason, there was no police accident report for this accident. The lieutenant promised to review the 911 call transcript and get back to us. Thereafter, he called to inform us that he had tracked down the police officer who responded to the accident and directed him to explain why no report was generated for this accident. The police officer explained that when he and his partner arrived, the ambulance had already taken away the injured pedestrian. He further explained that the only remaining people on the scene were the driver and passengers of the van who only spoke a foreign language. In that he and his partner were unable to communicate with them, they let them leave without taking down any of their driver license or vehicle information. The lieutenant apologized for the officers' failure to follow proper procedure but there was nothing more that they could do to learn the identity of the owner and operator of the vehicle who had struck our client. Our investigator then suggested that from the surveillance tape, we make still photographs of the vehicle. He would then position an operative on the sidewalk opposite where the accident took place from an hour before the time of the accident to an hour afterward to see if the same commercial van would pass this location. He thought that since this was a commercial vehicle, it might be likely that there was a routine that the van would follow every day or a number of times per week. A white commercial van identical to the one in the photograph appeared and the operative was able to take a picture of the plate number for the van literally running down the street chasing the van to get the picture. Through our dial-in program, we were able to run the license plate through the Department of Motor Vehicles database and obtain the owner's information for the vehicle. We also obtained the insurance information and notified the carrier of our intent to make a claim against the owner of the vehicle for this accident. After receiving our letter of representation, the insurance company confirmed that their insured's vehicle was involved in an accident with our client. This is the very kind of relentless investigation that has built our firm's reputation. It is persistence and diligence that many times saves the day as it did in this case. Supreme Court, Kings County, Turkel v. V&T Supermarket and "John Doe", Index No. 2491/10