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Wrongful failure to control vehicle and blame

Discussion in 'Speeding Tickets, Traffic & Moving Violations' started by JoeE, Jun 19, 2007.

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  1. JoeE

    JoeE Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Here's what happened:
    Yesterday afternoon I was driving home from work after a short heavy rain during rush hour. It was still raining lightly. I was traveling on I235, the interstate that goes through Des Moines, in a section that had just been rebuilt a year ago. I was traveling around 55 mph. While going around a bend in the left lane, I came up on standing water that came all the way across my lane and into the middle lane and extended for about 40 feet in length. There was someone next to me so I could not move over and I did not have enough time to slow down. I tried to control the vehicle through the hydroplane, but the right tires kept getting and losing traction through it which sent me into a spin that bounced the front of my car off the left wall, after which I ended back in the left lane facing backwards. At which time the car behind me ran into the front of my car and spun me around to face foreward.

    The officer listened to both of our stories which were the same as I describe here. He chose to give me a failure to control my vehicle ticket and to say that I am also responsible for the damage to the van that hit me. When I asked him about the standing water and the hydroplaning, he said that he knows that is what I said. I then asked him whether he saw the standing water that I pointed out to him when he got there (it had gone away by the time I recieved my ticket an hour later). He said that he did not see it. I have a friend that witnessed the accident and the other driver corroborated my story, but had been told that she could go before he gave me my ticket.

    I have witnessed several situations where a person did not get a failure to control a vehicle ticket because of weather conditions. It was usually during the winter.

    1. Should I have recieved a failure to control my vehicle ticket considering the standing water?

    2. Why did the other driver not get a ticket also? She was not able to stop in time and said that it was because of the water.

    3. Why would I be responsible for the damages to her vehicle when she hit me?

    This was a young officer and I think that he made poor judgements in his determinations.

    I would appreciate any advice that any of you can offer.

    Thanks,
    Joe
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2007
  2. CdwJava

    CdwJava Moderator

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    Does the violation have standing? Certainly. It is prima facie evidence that you failed to control a vehicle when you lose control of that vehicle. Keep in mind that the police in most (all?) states can assign fault to only one party. Insurance companies and civil courts are free to assign fault in varying percentages as they wish, but the police cannot. Ad you can certainly make the claim in court that you were traveling at a safe and prudent speed, and that this was an unexpected problem ... a judge may decide to have mercy upon you.

    Probably because in every collision there is only one Primary Collision Factor - and only one person is responsible. In my state we can issue a citation for the PCF if we have received special training, but we cannot issue for associated factors (or parties).

    You'll have to ask your insurer. All because the police say you are at fault does not mean that the insurance companies have to hold you 100% liable.

    Actually, it sounds like he made sound ones based upon the law as it stands regarding traffic accidents. Yes, there may have been other options available for him, but it does not sound like his decision to cite you for the collision was without merit.

    FYI, I have personally investigated more than 600 traffic collisions in my career, and oversee all collision reports and investigations for my agency (in CA).

    - Carl
     
  3. Duranie

    Duranie Moderator

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    I think the ticket was warranted. In less than perfect driving conditions you are expected to drive accordingly. I have some law enforcement/traffic training from when I was a police recruit at one time, and you did fail to control your vehicle. You're expected to adjust your speed to reflec the conditiions so you can drive safe.

    As far as the damage to that lady's vehicle, you might be able to dispute that. It is possible your insurance company might hold her party liable for her damage.
     
  4. JoeE

    JoeE Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you both for your advice. My insurance company agrees that the other driver should hold some liability. We'll have to see how that pans out. I also think that I will see what kind of mercy the judge might have on the ticket. The courthouse is only two blocks from where I work and I might catch him/her on a generous day.
     

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