Readers may remember the article we posted on December 19, 2022 involving a building collapse in Boston. The building was struck by a car and we showed the photo below from Boston’s Fire Department.

In part we provided the following comment regarding interpretation of collision damage:

The internet is full of experts who use false information to confuse, and sometime defraud the public. The realm of collision analysis is no exception. A common theme is to use false evidence to support a false claim. There are many examples where collision evidence is misinterpreted, sometimes on purpose. The classic case is one of using the existence of collision damage as an indicator of collision severity and vehicle speed.

A building may be very strong in terms of holding itself upright but it may be brittle and may not be able to withstand the vibrations of a lateral force. The evaluation must involve the examination of the collision partner, the car, to determine the magnitude of the force that was involved.

Subsequently we have become aware of another similar incident that reportedly occurred on February 8, 2023. Video released by the Maryland Attorney General’s office showed an intersection collision in Baltimore involving a Hyundai car that was attempting to escape police. The Hyundai struck another car in an intersection and both vehicles then travelled off the road and struck a building. The façade of the building collapsed. Unfortunately a pedestrian was involved who sustained fatal injuries. Frames from the video are shown below.

The initial contact is show here where the red Hyundai strikes the front of the right side of the black car. This causes both vehicles to rotate, as shown in the next frame
As both vehicles rotate toward each other the right-rear corner of the black car would typically make contact near the left-rear wheel of the Hyundai. This is very common in such a scenario.
As both vehicles move off the roadway the front end of the black car strikes the pedestrian while also striking the wall of the building.
Here the façade of the building begins to collapse due to the impact by the black car.
In this frame the brick and other materials from the building fall down upon the two cars and also on the pedestrian.
Shortly after the collapse of the building the two cars are shown covered in the fallen materials. In such a scenario the unprotected pedestrian may not have been killed by the initial impact but more likely by the fallen debris from the building.

The sequence of frames shown above demonstrate the complexity of injury causation, and fault.

In scenarios like this it is important to understand that our opinions about fault can be coloured by our wish to blame the fleeing driver of the Hyundai for the death of the pedestrian. This can distract from the additional fact that the building collapse was also a likely factor in cause of the pedestrian fatality. There is the added matter that buildings that are at a higher risk of being struck by traffic should be of sufficient structural soundness that they should withstand a certain level of impact force without falling down. Providing some form of roadside barrier could also improve the risk of building collapse.

In many instances dangers that exist to the general public are glossed over because official investigations seek the prosecution of a guilty party. When the revelation of additional factors could weaken the case against a guilty party police and other agencies tend to hide those additional factors. This allows dangers to continue to exist without correction.