You may not realize it, but speed, time and distance can make or break your car accident case here in New York.

In order to determine responsibility, also known as liability, establishing speed, time and distance is critical in any car accident case here in NY.

Most car crash cases are hotly contested and have issues of who caused the accident. Sometimes it's a “He said” / “She said” situation when there were no other witnesses around. Instead, you have only two drivers who say opposite things. When you have a witness, he or she will lead credibility to one version of the events.

When there are no other witnesses, and you have two opposing viewpoints and different sets of facts, establishing speed, time and distance can either make or break your case. Here's how.

During pretrial questioning known as a deposition, I have an opportunity to question the driver of the car that you believe caused your accident. During questioning, I will establish what they believe occurred and why. Importantly, I will ask an extensive series of questions to identify the driver's speed at certain points prior to the accident as well as how long it took to go from certain points to the point of impact and the distance traveled during the same period of time.

Here's an example of a series of questions that I use:

Mrs. Jones, how far away were you from the intersection when you saw the traffic light for the first time?

At the time you first saw the traffic light what was your speed?

How long did it take you to go from that point, when you first saw the traffic light until you reached the intersection when the impact occurred?

I can ask at least 100 different questions on each of those issues. There is a very strategic and tactical reason for doing so.

The first is to lock-in the witness's testimony about her version of events. The second is to establish credibility and determine if there were any inconsistencies.

If the witness gives me any two out of three elements mentioned above, say speed and time, I can calculate the distance she travelled. If she gives me the distance traveled and the length of time I can calculate for speed. If she gives me speed and distance, I can calculate the time it took her to go from point A to point B.

Each of these answers help build on the foundation of whether or not her testimony is consistent with the mathematical calculations. If the calculations are totally inconsistent, it makes this witness's testimony less credible.

At trial, I can then show that the testimony is simply unreasonable and makes no mathematical sense.

These three factors will help determine who was responsible for causing or contributing to the accident.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer