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Car accident - do I plead guilty?

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Posts

  • WildEEPWildEEP Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    You still havent answered the question - what does it say on the damn ticket?

    I'm not here to crucify you for your driving skills or lack there of - You asked for help out of a ticket.

    I will say that you should not repeat anything in this thread to the Judge. Seriously - the school of thought on traffic court is that if you lose control of the car even for a damn MILISECOND, even if you were going 1 MPH - then you were going too fast for conditions - IE if conditions are too bad to drive - DO NOT DRIVE.

    Not my opinion - THEIR opinion. My opinion and your opinion count for one thing - DICK. So now that we can all move past that point - Lets focus on the ticket shall we?

  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA
    edited February 2010
    So a couple weeks ago, morning after the biggest snowstorm Philly has ever seen, when the roads were really slick, I got into a car accident. There was a big pile of snow in the road, and I couldn't swerve around it because there was another car in the lane next to me, so I had to plow through it. My car was fishtailing a little but I was able to keep control - however, it made me not see a red light until I was very close to it. Of course, I braked and slid on the slushy mix through the red light into another car. It was even caught on tape by a camera at that intersection.

    Now, it's obviously not the other driver's fault, but I've never been in an accident before or even gotten a ticket in 12 years of driving, and I consider myself a great driver. Should I try to contest this ticket, saying it was the weather's fault/act of god, or the city's fault for not salting/plowing better? Or should I suck it up and say I'm guilty? I really don't *feel* guilty. If it was just slush on the road, I would have seen the light in time and stopped early. If there was just the snow pile, I would have hit it and been thrown off for a second, but I would have been able to stop in time without sliding into the intersection. But both a big pile of snow in the road combined with an incredibly slick surface and I had no hope. It was a literal accident waiting to happen. I don't really care about a $100 fine for running a red light, it's how it will affect my insurance rate that I'm concerned about...

    Never plead guilty for traffic tickets. You don't get extra credit for being honest, so if you're not going to fight the ticket, plead "No Contest" which basically just means you don't admit fault, but you're not going to go to court over it. In some states, this will harm your record less than pleading guilty will.

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  • GdiguyGdiguy San Diego, CARegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    In terms of what to do, I think you really have two options here:

    1) Hire a lawyer, possibly pay more in lawyer fees than your original ticket would cost, but probably your lawyer will argue the ticket down to something that is less points on your license / lower hit on your insurance

    2) Plead guilty and pay the ticket plus whatever insurance hikes you'll have to deal with

    Those two I think are generally true of almost any traffic ticket; the system is designed to penalize you either by time and extra money (in having to go to court and hire an attorney) or money and impacting your record (with the DMV and insurance)


    Legally, the speed limit in poor weather conditions is "as fast as is safe", which might be arguable if a cop pulls you over for going 40 in light rain in a 45 zone, but isn't arguable if you were going so fast in snow that you couldn't stop at a red light. It doesn't matter what excuses you can make, unless your brakes suddenly exploded causing you to be unable to stop, you're not going to be found not guilty

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2010
    Also worth noting when giving advice in this thread:

    If he gets rid of the ticket, his insurance company could possibly make the claim that the accident was shared-fault, totally fucking over the guy he hit even more.

  • Bosshog78Bosshog78 Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Insurance salesman who's also suffered through this rotten fucking winter here.

    One thing that hasn't really been clarified itt is that there are two seperate reasons why your insurance would go up due to the accident.

    The first one is that you had an accident at all. Your insurance company has allready or will pay out the claim to fix the other drivers vehicle. There's nothing you can do about that at this point. The record of that claim and the fact you were at fault goes into something called the C.L.U.E database and will (most likely) effect your insurance premiums for three years from the date you had the accident. Fault is generally not decided in court but by whos insurance company pays out. Is the other driver's insurance company going to pay to fix your vehicle? If not then you were at fault end of story. Again nothing you can do about this now.

    The second one is where you can lessen the sting a bit. If you can get the ticket pleaded down to defective equipment or even better a parking ticket (which doesn't have anything to do with your insurance what so ever) then you're likely to save yourself about ~$600 over the next 3 years.

    Again the bulk of the damage is allready done and the only other thing you're going to be able do about it is shop around if they raise your rates. The best you can do at this point is flick the turd cherry off the top of the poop sundae they're probably going to try and feed you when your policy renews.

    Edit: On second look, that 600 could be way too low if you're under 25 and actually live in the city, I would definitely see what you can do about the ticket.

  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User
    edited February 2010
    If you want representation, check to see if your state allows paralegals/agents to appear in traffic court. You might not necessarily need an actual lawyer and you can usually find non-lawyers (very often former police officers) who specialise in minor traffic tickets like your's.

    Basically, a lawyer can be expensive, but there are folks out there who cost much less and will more or less obtain the same result as a lawyer would. This is a pretty simple case and you're either going to face the full penalty, find a way to plead guilty to a lesser offence or even be found not guilty (mostly depending on how good the officer's notes and testimony are, rather than any defence you put forward) - a lawyer probably isn't going to add a whole lot to your chances.

    Of course, just like hiring a lawyer, be aware of their reputation, etc.

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Doc wrote: »
    Also worth noting when giving advice in this thread:

    If he gets rid of the ticket, his insurance company could possibly make the claim that the accident was shared-fault, totally fucking over the guy he hit even more.

    Again, UK perspective, but I doubt it.

    Arguing liability is, in part, my job, and there's no way you could make that stick in this instance. The obvious counter-argument is that (based on my understanding of the circumstances) there isn't anything the other driver could have done differently that would have prevented the accident (taking as granted that they are allowed to make the assumption that other drivers on the road are driving according to the rules of the road and the conditions). Nor is there anything they had a duty to do but didn't.

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    japan wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Also worth noting when giving advice in this thread:

    If he gets rid of the ticket, his insurance company could possibly make the claim that the accident was shared-fault, totally fucking over the guy he hit even more.

    Again, UK perspective, but I doubt it.

    Arguing liability is, in part, my job, and there's no way you could make that stick in this instance. The obvious counter-argument is that (based on my understanding of the circumstances) there isn't anything the other driver could have done differently that would have prevented the accident (taking as granted that they are allowed to make the assumption that other drivers on the road are driving according to the rules of the road and the conditions). Nor is there anything they had a duty to do but didn't.

    There's been a trend, and some states have laws (statues?) that any accident is shared fault, even if the other car is parked. Sort of a "Cost of driving" penalty.

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  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2010
    japan wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Also worth noting when giving advice in this thread:

    If he gets rid of the ticket, his insurance company could possibly make the claim that the accident was shared-fault, totally fucking over the guy he hit even more.

    Again, UK perspective, but I doubt it.

    Arguing liability is, in part, my job, and there's no way you could make that stick in this instance. The obvious counter-argument is that (based on my understanding of the circumstances) there isn't anything the other driver could have done differently that would have prevented the accident (taking as granted that they are allowed to make the assumption that other drivers on the road are driving according to the rules of the road and the conditions). Nor is there anything they had a duty to do but didn't.

    but as you said yourself, you're in the UK
    I mean, from our perspective you guys have totally nonsensical libel laws, but that doesn't change your libel laws

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  • WezoinWezoin Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Either lawyer or look for one of those paralegal "Don't pay your traffic tickets we'll get you off!" places. From what I hear they tend to be pretty good at it and can usually even say "yeah it'll end up costing you $x in fines" and then they charge you a percent of what they save you.

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Druhim wrote: »
    japan wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Also worth noting when giving advice in this thread:

    If he gets rid of the ticket, his insurance company could possibly make the claim that the accident was shared-fault, totally fucking over the guy he hit even more.

    Again, UK perspective, but I doubt it.

    Arguing liability is, in part, my job, and there's no way you could make that stick in this instance. The obvious counter-argument is that (based on my understanding of the circumstances) there isn't anything the other driver could have done differently that would have prevented the accident (taking as granted that they are allowed to make the assumption that other drivers on the road are driving according to the rules of the road and the conditions). Nor is there anything they had a duty to do but didn't.

    but as you said yourself, you're in the UK
    I mean, from our perspective you guys have totally nonsensical libel laws, but that doesn't change your libel laws

    Common law civil liability is (generally) the same, because your legal system derives from ours and this kind of thing doesn't tend to be the subject of legislation.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I say this car was a very safe distance in front of me because if he slowed down and came to a stop, I would have easily been able to come to a stop behind him. Unfortunately again, that's not what happened. Say the car in front of me was a truck something fell off the back of. I wouldn't have been able to avoid that either.

    I don't know if you understand what it means to be a safe distance behind someone. The idea is to be far enough behind them so that you can react if something happens suddenly, not so you can react if they slow down gradually.

  • RaneadosRaneados Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    oldsak wrote: »
    I say this car was a very safe distance in front of me because if he slowed down and came to a stop, I would have easily been able to come to a stop behind him. Unfortunately again, that's not what happened. Say the car in front of me was a truck something fell off the back of. I wouldn't have been able to avoid that either.

    I don't know if you understand what it means to be a safe distance behind someone. The idea is to be far enough behind them so that you can react if something happens suddenly, not so you can react if they slow down gradually.

    yeah the whole "following distance" thing is, if that car in front of you were to INSTANTLY stop, would you smash into the back of it?

    that covers shit falling off trucks, etc

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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Raneados wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    I say this car was a very safe distance in front of me because if he slowed down and came to a stop, I would have easily been able to come to a stop behind him. Unfortunately again, that's not what happened. Say the car in front of me was a truck something fell off the back of. I wouldn't have been able to avoid that either.

    I don't know if you understand what it means to be a safe distance behind someone. The idea is to be far enough behind them so that you can react if something happens suddenly, not so you can react if they slow down gradually.

    yeah the whole "following distance" thing is, if that car in front of you were to INSTANTLY stop, would you smash into the back of it?

    that covers shit falling off trucks, etc

    Or them hitting a stationary car in front as the result of an accident/obstacle further ahead.

  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Doc wrote: »
    Also worth noting when giving advice in this thread:

    If he gets rid of the ticket, his insurance company could possibly make the claim that the accident was shared-fault, totally fucking over the guy he hit even more.

    What does the ticket have to do with what the insurance is going to do, aside from whatever version of "demerit points" applies in this case.

    His insurance rates are going to go up because the other driver is going to file a claim on his car. The OP ran a red light and hit the driver. There really is no way you can argue shared fault here unless your state/province is no-fault, but then none of this matters anyway. This at-fault claim is going to raise his rates.

    The ticket he gets, such as failure to yield resulting in a collision, will also raise his rates, but if the judge miraculously decides not to charge him with this offense, the insurance company isn't going to suddenly seek damages from the other driver. They are recouping their loses through the rise in rates that the OP will enjoy over the next few years.

    From my experience with tickets in Ontario and other anecdotal evidence, when a traffic violation results in a collision, you're not going to get much leeway from a judge.

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  • kedinikkedinik Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Alright, pretty much the unanimous opinion is that I was driving too fast and unsafely. You can't convince me of this, and you weren't there or your opinion might be different, but it's good to know how third parties will see the situation if explained to them. There's a such thing as extenuating circumstances. Let's say you were driving under the speed limit, in normal, dry, summer conditions. Let's say a kid ran in front of your car and you almost hit him. Your heart would be beating like crazy, you'd have this huge adrenaline rush, you'd be hoping he's ok... and due to all this, you missed a red light. I don't think that would be your fault any more than this was mine. I had plenty of time to stop early every other block, but my balance was thrown off by a giant pile of snow that almost made me lose control (and effectively did in the end). Slippery conditions, I was prepared for. A pile of snow suddenly blocking a lane that was clear until then, not so much.

    I've had that happen to me before - driving well below the speed limit behind a vehicle obstructing my view, which changed lanes a split second before it would have hit an obstruction.

    I had to slam on the brakes and skid into the shoulder to avoid causing an accident.

    I think the other driver was more reckless than me, but these days I just keep a much further following distance.

  • SheriSheri Resident Fluffer My Living RoomRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    MichaelLC wrote: »
    japan wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Also worth noting when giving advice in this thread:

    If he gets rid of the ticket, his insurance company could possibly make the claim that the accident was shared-fault, totally fucking over the guy he hit even more.

    Again, UK perspective, but I doubt it.

    Arguing liability is, in part, my job, and there's no way you could make that stick in this instance. The obvious counter-argument is that (based on my understanding of the circumstances) there isn't anything the other driver could have done differently that would have prevented the accident (taking as granted that they are allowed to make the assumption that other drivers on the road are driving according to the rules of the road and the conditions). Nor is there anything they had a duty to do but didn't.

    There's been a trend, and some states have laws (statues?) that any accident is shared fault, even if the other car is parked. Sort of a "Cost of driving" penalty.

    This coming from someone who is having a dude try to pull this BS right now:

    The dude who totaled my car last February just tried to do this. He received a ticket for failure to maintain lane (swerved all over the road, T-boned my car which was in the opposite lane going the opposite direction). He pleaded No Contest to the ticket (probably due only to the fact that I showed up at court). Then a month or so ago I get a call from my insurance agent who handled the case (I would like to point out that we both had the same insurance company) that apparently the guy and his lawyer tried to file (through the insurance company) for damages and tried claiming that I was partially at-fault for the accident. The insurance company nixed that right quick.

    However I was informed that he could try to do the same thing in civil court. He hasn't yet (knock on wood), but I wouldn't put it past this guy.

    Anyway, the point is, DiscoZombie, don't be this dude. Man up. The guy who hit me? Claimed he skidded in sand and that's why he lost control. Except the only way he could have skidded in the sand was if he was going way too fast. The person you hit? They have to deal with a lot of BS, especially if the damage was really bad. If you try to fight the ticket, they may get a subpoena to appear as a witness against you (I know I did), and if they know what's good for them, they will. At the very least, cut that person some slack, eh?

    And if you do try to fight it, for god's sake don't try to pull what this guy did and try to pin it on the person you hit (not that I think you will, but I'm throwing it out there just in case). That is some straight-up BS.

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