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Old 03-26-11, 07:33 AM   #1
olazola
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Involved in crash, police report blames me

I was involved in a collsion where I was traveling in the bike lane of a 2 way road that has 2-3 lanes in each direction. I had a green light that had been green for awhile - a number of cars had proceeded through before I did. At the time that I went through the intersection, however, there were no cars on my side of the road. As I went through the intersection, I was hit straight on by a woman making a left turn. It was a pretty low speed collision so I (extremely thankfully) was okay; I ended up with just a couple of sore spots. At the time, my leg was bothering me quite a bit so both the police and an ambulance were called; I was taken to the ER to get checked out.

I got the police report yesterday and it blames ME for the accident. The driver claims that she had a green left turn arrow (which means that I should have had a red light). What bothers me, and what I think may affect my ability to dispute this, is that the people in the car behind her also say that she the left turn arrow was green whereas there were no witnesses on my side of the street. This can't be true because I went back to the intersection to see how it works and there's no way the arrow was green - this only happens while the light on my side of the road is red. However, since as I mentioned a number of cars had gone through before me, it's pretty much impossible for there to have been a green left turn arrow; it would have been long gone.

Essentially, they're saying that I came up to an intersection with a red light, saw cars turning left from the opposite direction, and decided to go through anyway . My thoughts are that the driver probably thought it was safe to make a turn because there were no cars at the time and, once she decided it was safe to go, stopped paying attention. I feel that I should be compensated for my medical bills and to fix my bike, but I'm worried that the police report has completely screwed me over (and, how can the police assign blame if they did not witness the accident?) So...do I have any recourse?
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Old 03-26-11, 07:37 AM   #2
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The jury just came in.....you ran the red light.
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Old 03-26-11, 08:28 AM   #3
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How far behind in seconds did you proceed through the intersection after the last car traveling in your direction? Could it have turned red? Does the road have traffic sensors? They won't pick up bikes and can let the light change when no traffic is detected.

Is it possible that she had a green turn light (yield to opposing traffic) instead of a green turn arrow (right of way)? Unless you can prove (not likely) you had a green light her witnesses will win the case for her. Good luck!
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Old 03-26-11, 08:35 AM   #4
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Since you probably were the last thru the green light, it may very well have turned red by the time you were in the intersection. The woman may also have gotten a green arrow, but she DIDNT see that traffic was clear. She just did a knee jerk response to the green arrow and took off without checking. Hard to tell how a court case would come out. I certainly would check the timing of the lights. Does the straight ahead lane go from green to red or is there a yellow warning light before the red? How soon does the left turn arrow come on after the yellow warning or the red come on for straight traffic. Those timings would make a huge difference when presented in a court case. I certainly would take someone with me and check out all of this.
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Old 03-26-11, 08:35 AM   #5
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What they said -- her witness will trump your certainty. Even if the witness is actually wrong. The only way you'd win at this point would be if you could provide more witnesses or video.

If you didn't get a ticket, consider yourself lucky.
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Old 03-26-11, 08:44 AM   #6
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Yeah, I realize that this is probably an uphill battle that may not be worth it...it's just extremely frustrating because I am positive that I had a green light. As someone who considers herself a novice bicyclist whose only cycling activity is a 1.5 mi (each way) commute on a cruiser bike, I always slow down when the light is yellow, let alone red (yeah, I know that doesn't mean anything just because I say so; it's just that I consider myself a very cautious cyclist). I have this internal narrative in my head anytime I reach an intersection and I remember that one quite clearly - "light is green, cars have gone through, ok, someone is in the left turn lane but he/she should be looking, why is this car turning, why is this car turning, omg it's going to hit me..." I guess the problem is that I assumed that the people turning left would see me (it was 2 pm on a sunny day).

As far as the lights go - based on the fact that my light was green and at I was at the end of the light, it is even LESS likely that she had an arrow. Say I had (anti)perfect timing and the light turned yellow/red as I was going through. The next event would be for the perpendicular traffic light to turn green and for her light to be red as well, not for her left turn arrow to be green. And, on her side, there is absolutely a sign that says "yield to opposing traffic on green."

The police didn't even know that a cyclist counts as a motor vehicle - at the time, they were asking me whether I had seen the "hand up." I was like, "hand?" and the officer said, "yeah, you know, the walk signal? it should have had a hand." And the police report categorizes me as a pedestrian. Anyway, I'm just ranting because I know I did nothing wrong. My guess is that the police asked a suggestive question like "did you have the light or did you have the arrow?" Regardless of what was said, I was already in the ambulance so I wasn't able to stick up for myself/try to find witnesses who could have backed me up (in my naievete, I didn't think there would be a problem).
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Old 03-26-11, 08:53 AM   #7
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Sorry for your accident. Witnesses and police are not always truthfull.
Reds Lights do not stop a driver from coming through an intersection.
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Old 03-26-11, 09:31 AM   #8
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A friend of mine had almost exactly the same experience. He was riding east on an arterial road and the light changed from green to yellow just as he entered the intersection. A car going west made a left turn directly in front of him and he crashed into the windshield of the car.

After being taken to the emergency room he was visited by the police officer who had already started to fill out his report based on the statement of the car driver. The officer's first greeting was to the effect that if my friend weren't in the hospital he'd be writing a ticket for running a red light. He then went through what he had written in the report which was that the driver had been waiting to turn left, had gotten a green arrow, and proceeded with her turn. Fortunately my friend had the presence of mind to ask whether the driver got this green arrow before or after through traffic had had a green. According to the driver's statement, she had waited while through traffic had a green and then got the green arrow when the through light changed to yellow. But, as my friend knew, at that intersection the arrow appears at the start of the green cycle, not at the end. So he asked the officer to check on the operation of that traffic signal and verify that it couldn't have happened in the order described by the driver. In the end the report got changed, fault was assigned to the driver and her insurance paid for my friend's injuries and damages. But it took quite a bit of discussion to get the officer to finally change his mind about what had happened.

We suspect that the driver wasn't deliberately lying, but that immediately after the crash she looked up at the light and saw a green arrow - but at that point she was looking at the light for southbound traffic on the cross street. In the confusion and emotions related to a crash it's easy to make mistakes and eye witness accounts are frequently subject to error. Both your case and my friend's show the problem that occurs when police initially get their information from the driver and feel they already know what happened before they ever get to hear the cyclist's version of the story since he's been taken away by the EMTs.

Hope you're able to get this straightened out and get your damages covered.
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Old 03-26-11, 11:12 AM   #9
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What's with this thread? Why are we assuming the woman didn't just run the red? Because a driver would never do such a thing?

Give the guy a break, sounds like he's just another victim of motorized assault to me.
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Old 03-26-11, 11:44 AM   #10
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I guess the problem is that I assumed that the people turning left would see me (it was 2 pm on a sunny day).

As far as the lights go - based on the fact that my light was green and at I was at the end of the light, it is even LESS likely that she had an arrow. Say I had (anti)perfect timing and the light turned yellow/red as I was going through. The next event would be for the perpendicular traffic light to turn green and for her light to be red as well, not for her left turn arrow to be green.
From your observations of the signal phase sequence I suspect you are correct - you had a stale green or yellow light, maybe even turning red while you were in the intersection, and the left turning drivers had a circular green (or circular yellow/red), not a green left turn arrow.

I think it's likely that the left turning driver hit the gas when she saw what looked like a gap in traffic. The driver didn't notice you because you were in the bike lane way over at the far right edge of the road, where the cars just ahead of you screened you from view:



Many cyclists suggest that a more leftward position improves visibility in these situations, discouraging left cross collisions as well as discouraging right hooks.

Check out this article by Keri Caffery on Commute Orlando, "Preventing the Left Cross:"
http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/...he-left-cross/

Note that the driver was absolutely at fault if you entered the intersection before the signal turned red, but the information above might help you feel more empowered to reduce the chances of this happening in the future. I recommend that you do what Prathmann's friend did as described in his post, verifying the signal phase sequence and the fact that traffic had just been moving in your direction.

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Old 03-26-11, 12:13 PM   #11
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What's with this thread? Why are we assuming the woman didn't just run the red? Because a driver would never do such a thing?

Give the guy a break, sounds like he's just another victim of motorized assault to me.
The degree of detail and care in observation that olazola put into her descriptions lead me to give her the benefit of the doubt that she entered the intersection on green and that the oncoming motorist did not have a green arrow. However, experience suggests that this type of collision doesn't require the motorist to have run a red light. Motorists are notoriously lousy at permissive left turns, often mistaking circular greens for protected green turn arrows, and they often fail to see oncoming traffic near the curb when focused on the travel lanes.
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Old 03-26-11, 12:29 PM   #12
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I was involved in a collsion where I was traveling in the bike lane of a 2 way road that has 2-3 lanes in each direction. I had a green light that had been green for awhile - a number of cars had proceeded through before I did. At the time that I went through the intersection, however, there were no cars on my side of the road. As I went through the intersection, I was hit straight on by a woman making a left turn. It was a pretty low speed collision so I (extremely thankfully) was okay; I ended up with just a couple of sore spots. At the time, my leg was bothering me quite a bit so both the police and an ambulance were called; I was taken to the ER to get checked out.

I got the police report yesterday and it blames ME for the accident. The driver claims that she had a green left turn arrow (which means that I should have had a red light). What bothers me, and what I think may affect my ability to dispute this, is that the people in the car behind her also say that she the left turn arrow was green whereas there were no witnesses on my side of the street. This can't be true because I went back to the intersection to see how it works and there's no way the arrow was green - this only happens while the light on my side of the road is red. However, since as I mentioned a number of cars had gone through before me, it's pretty much impossible for there to have been a green left turn arrow; it would have been long gone.

Essentially, they're saying that I came up to an intersection with a red light, saw cars turning left from the opposite direction, and decided to go through anyway . My thoughts are that the driver probably thought it was safe to make a turn because there were no cars at the time and, once she decided it was safe to go, stopped paying attention. I feel that I should be compensated for my medical bills and to fix my bike, but I'm worried that the police report has completely screwed me over (and, how can the police assign blame if they did not witness the accident?) So...do I have any recourse?
Welcome to the wonderful world of cycling where the motorist is presumed innocent and the cyclist is presumed guilty until proven innocent.

I'm glad that you're relatively okay.
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Old 03-26-11, 12:44 PM   #13
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Yeah, I realize that this is probably an uphill battle that may not be worth it...it's just extremely frustrating because I am positive that I had a green light. As someone who considers herself a novice bicyclist whose only cycling activity is a 1.5 mi (each way) commute on a cruiser bike, I always slow down when the light is yellow, let alone red (yeah, I know that doesn't mean anything just because I say so; it's just that I consider myself a very cautious cyclist). I have this internal narrative in my head anytime I reach an intersection and I remember that one quite clearly - "light is green, cars have gone through, ok, someone is in the left turn lane but he/she should be looking, why is this car turning, why is this car turning, omg it's going to hit me..." I guess the problem is that I assumed that the people turning left would see me (it was 2 pm on a sunny day).

As far as the lights go - based on the fact that my light was green and at I was at the end of the light, it is even LESS likely that she had an arrow. Say I had (anti)perfect timing and the light turned yellow/red as I was going through. The next event would be for the perpendicular traffic light to turn green and for her light to be red as well, not for her left turn arrow to be green. And, on her side, there is absolutely a sign that says "yield to opposing traffic on green."

The police didn't even know that a cyclist counts as a motor vehicle - at the time, they were asking me whether I had seen the "hand up." I was like, "hand?" and the officer said, "yeah, you know, the walk signal? it should have had a hand." And the police report categorizes me as a pedestrian. Anyway, I'm just ranting because I know I did nothing wrong. My guess is that the police asked a suggestive question like "did you have the light or did you have the arrow?" Regardless of what was said, I was already in the ambulance so I wasn't able to stick up for myself/try to find witnesses who could have backed me up (in my naivete, I didn't think there would be a problem).
Again, I'm sorry about your accident. Sadly, you are probably are going to have a very uphill battle in winning in court. What city and state did this occur in? Were you ticketed? How much damage did your bike receive?

What I would suggest is to get together with some friends go to that intersection at the time that the crash occurred and video tape the natural lighting conditions, as well as the light change sequence.
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Old 03-26-11, 01:20 PM   #14
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I'd recommend that you go out and get a video of the intersection, from both directions, and as safely as you can recreate the accident.

No matter what, if you get cited, fight it. All to often witnesses will fail to appear, and that could be used to strengthen your position.
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Old 03-26-11, 01:35 PM   #15
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I also recommend you go back to the intersection and shoot video on how the lights change.
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Old 03-26-11, 01:36 PM   #16
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Thanks for the advice so far. I'm absolutely okay and am only expecting the ambulance bill and the ER bill, nothing more.

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What city and state did this occur in? Were you ticketed? How much damage did your bike receive?
I was riding in Philadelphia (my first problem, maybe). I wasn't ticketed. The bike damage isn't too bad, as far as I can tell (I'm told that I can probably bend the fork/handlebars back into position myself). I'm a student, though, so to pay for the ambulance ride/ER visit and the bike repair that was caused by something that wasn't even my fault is a hard pill to swallow.

The rear wheel is out of true or bent, I think.

My main concern is not the bike but is that my health insurance could try to subrogate (get their money back) if they see that my bills are due to injuries caused by a third party. I want to make a claim against her insurance but, if they find me at fault, I'm guessing that I'll get nothing. However, I do think that her insurance should pay the cost of fixing my bike and, even if she has no fault insurance (which would cover my medical bills, I believe), it will not cover property damage. I'm definitely going to videotape the intersection and talk to the police officer, but if I can't get him to amend his report am I SOL? I don't think the dollar amounts will be worth going to court over.

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Old 03-26-11, 02:05 PM   #17
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Thanks for the advice so far. I'm absolutely okay and am only expecting the ambulance bill and the ER bill, nothing more.
Those two alone can be a "hard pill" to swallow.

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I was riding in Philadelphia (my first problem, maybe). I wasn't ticketed. The bike damage isn't too bad, as far as I can tell (I'm told that I can probably bend the fork/handlebars back into position myself). I'm a student, though, so to pay for the ambulance ride/ER visit and the bike repair that was caused by something that wasn't even my fault is a hard pill to swallow.

The rear wheel is out of true or bent, I think.
Take your bike to your LBS (local bike shop) and have them do an estimate on what it will take to bring it back to new condition. Your front wheel should probably be replaced.

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My main concern is not the bike but is that my health insurance could try to subrogate (get their money back) if they see that my bills are due to injuries caused by a third party. I want to make a claim against her insurance but, if they find me at fault, I'm guessing that I'll get nothing. However, I do think that her insurance should pay the cost of fixing my bike and, even if she has no fault insurance (which would cover my medical bills, I believe), it will not cover property damage. I'm definitely going to videotape the intersection and talk to the police officer, but if I can't get him to amend his report am I SOL? I don't think the dollar amounts will be worth going to court over.
Sadly, that's about all you can do, and as was noted hope that the drivers witnesses do a no show on the court date. Also if you can get the same officer to meet you at the intersection to watch how the light cycles that should help get him to change his report and see that the driver and not you was at fault.
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Old 03-26-11, 05:18 PM   #18
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I was riding in Philadelphia (my first problem, maybe).
What intersection in Philly? There are intersections in Philly where the green left turn arrow happens at the end of the cycle. Well, there's at least one: S. 34th Street and Grays Ferry Ave. It's common for drivers to get confused and try to turn or go straight on a red due to the uncommon signal phase.

Riding in Philly is only a problem if you actually try to use the bike "lanes"

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Old 03-26-11, 05:25 PM   #19
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OP, check the intersection for Red Light Cameras.
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Old 03-26-11, 07:30 PM   #20
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The degree of detail and care in observation that olazola put into her descriptions lead me to give her the benefit of the doubt that she entered the intersection on green and that the oncoming motorist did not have a green arrow. However, experience suggests that this type of collision doesn't require the motorist to have run a red light. Motorists are notoriously lousy at permissive left turns, often mistaking circular greens for protected green turn arrows, and they often fail to see oncoming traffic near the curb when focused on the travel lanes.
They often fail to see oncoming traffic in the middle of the travel lanes when they are focused on the travel lanes. Bicyclists must be prepared to be overlooked no matter where they are in the street.
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Old 03-26-11, 08:02 PM   #21
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In addition to the red light camera, if there's a chance that the light malfunctioned, go to the city clerk's office and make a public records request for all work orders, inspection reports and any other documentation related to the signal lights at that intersection.
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Old 03-26-11, 08:59 PM   #22
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What's with this thread? Why are we assuming the woman didn't just run the red? Because a driver would never do such a thing?

Give the guy a break, sounds like he's just another victim of motorized assault to me.
Thank you for saying it. I was about to say the same thing.
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Old 03-26-11, 09:23 PM   #23
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After perusing the posts in this thread, it reminded me of two situations I was in. Just the other day, I went into an intersection on a green light, and noticed before I was even under the traffic light, it went yellow. I started to wonder, since my bike is obviously not the weight of a car, I presume the light will cycle through faster.

I also had a situation recently. I was going through an intersection continuing straight, when a vehicle sped up to and through the left turn arrow in order to beat it. I saw them as they were pulling this moronic move. As they were speeding through it, I was halfway through the intersection. I had traffic behind me. But I hit the brakes anyway. While shaking my head, I stared at the motorist as he came closer to me. I caught the motorist's attention when he was about five feet from me. I continued to shake my head.

Then I continued on towards my house.

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Old 03-26-11, 09:59 PM   #24
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Very similar thing happened to me last year (I was in my car though). I realised there was no way I could prove I was not at fault so just put it behind me. I am still thinking seriously about a helmet camera for my bicycle.
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Old 03-26-11, 10:55 PM   #25
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Pennsylvania is a somewhat choice no-fault insurance state, under which your ambulance ride and full medical cost are likely paid by the motorist insurance as either a cyclist or pedestrian.
http://www.eqgroup.com/no-fault_explained.htm

Even if the cop refuses to fix his report based on his/motorist incorrect claims of light sequencing, you still have a chance of getting your bike paid for as well.
Points in your favor:
you are certain of the green light as you entered the intersection,
witness, motorist and police report cannot be correct based on video, or city information of how those intersection lights sequence,
police officer who wrote the report is ignorant of the law as cyclist are vehicle operators and not pedestrians. How can the cop perform a proper investigation and report if he does not even know the key laws to the investigation?
Cops assumption it was cyclist fault prior to interviewing cyclist.

Since the motorist insurance is likely on the hook for the medical payment, if you convince them you are willing to take the driver to small claims court, they may just pay up (cost for them paying less than the court hassle for their paying customer). But if there was damage to the car, this could backfire with a counter suit against cyclist to pay for damages to the car.
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