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MOTOR VEHICLE LAW: Appellate Court rejects argument that pedestrians struck by vehicles experience more emotional distress than drivers struck by vehicles

The plaintiff in this underlying action was struck by a police cruiser when she was crossing a street on her lunch break from her job at the Yale Art Gallery. The plaintiff sued Officer Brendan Hosey and the City of New Haven as a result of her injuries. At trial, the court found her medical expenses to be $5,738 and lost wages were found to be $626. The trial court also found that the defendant was 65% responsible and the plaintiff was 35% responsible. The Superior Court awarded the full amount of $6364.83 in economic damages and noneconomic damage award of $30,000. During the trial, the court found that “emotional trauma suffered by pedestrians struck by vehicles is generally greater than that suffered by persons involved in auto accidents as drivers….” The defendant driver of the police cruiser appealed from the decision of the trial court, arguing that pedestrians do not suffer greater emotional distress than drivers. On appeal, the Appellate Court reasoned that this fact was not a matter of common knowledge, and the trial court’s finding was clearly erroneous. The Appellate Court held that evidence presented to the trial court did not support the court’s award of $30,000 in noneconomic damages based on the theory that pedestrians suffer greater emotional trauma in car accidents. The judgment was reversed only as to the noneconomic damages, and the case was remanded for a hearing on damages. Autry v. Hosey, 200 Conn. App. 795 (2020)