First off, some background:
I am 34 years old. Level 9 driving record. No convictions. Old 2005 vehicle.
I had an at fault fender bender 2 years ago when a car coming the opposite direction blew through a red while me and the car in front of me were making a left on an advanced green. Car ahead of me stopped to not get t-boned. I avoided but nicked him a bit (rainy conditions) causing minimal damage to both of us. The red light runner fled. We went through insurance but no convictions. I have accident forgiveness and it was used for this as my premiums actually went down after it.
Anyways... this past weekend, I was in an unfamiliar area. I made a right turn from a small street onto a major road on a green light. There were 2 right turn lanes and I was in the rightmost one (I didn't know there were 2 when approaching but saw the sign when I was in the lane). I needed to merge into the left lane once the turn was complete, knowing that there would be other cars from the leftmost right turn lane I'd need to look out for.
Once the turn was completed, I shoulder checked to see that there was a car in my blind spot in the left lane going the same speed as me so it was unsafe to merge. When I looked forward, there was a red light with approximately 8-10 cars stopped in my lane and none in the left lane (that I had to merge into). So, I hit the brakes, hoping to avoid and swerve to the right; however, the shoulder prevented me from doing that which resulted in me rear ending the pickup truck in front of me. I was most likely travelling at 50-60km/h; however, I did break and was decelerating. My driver side front hit the pickup truck in the back right (because I tried to avoid). Because I have (had) a smaller car, the hood of my car hit the cargo bed of the truck and crumpled the hood. Windshield cracked and steering wheel airbag deployed. It looked like a crazy accident because the hood was crumpled so much but the pickup looked to be minimally damaged (it is an old pickup). Bed looked a tiny bit crooked from my car going under it and the bumper was dented. The pickup also bumped a car in front of it which looked to have only a paint scuff.
It sucks the most because I was paying attention to the speed of the driver in my blind spot and was even slowing to wait for them to pass so I could get behind. I know it's not an excuse but seeing their speed subconsciously made me think that I was as safe as them at my speed. I know, stupid.
No one was hurt thankfully.
Police, Ambulance, Fire, A few pickup trucks & a partridge in a pear tree arrived almost immediately. Statements were taken; I explained the above; and one of the police officers (who was very nice and helpful) gave me a "Collision Information Exchange" sheet and a "Careless Driving Summons". He even said that it is pretty much a blanket charge that they give for most collisions and that I'll have to go to court and figure out what to do.
So I went to the Googles and found this forum thankfully because I had no idea the severity of a Careless Driving charge.
Anyways, I am incredibly thankful that it wasn't worse and it scared the feces out of me.
Honestly, from the moment I knew I was going to hit, I wasn't worried about injury since it wasn't that fast; I was worried about the financial consequences.
I know that it is my fault of course but I was wondering what I should do to not have this destroy my record and insurance. I assume that it would be impossible to fight this (I probably wouldn't even try since it was clearly avoidable). Is there a charge I should be looking to get instead? Is it worth it to get legal advice for something like this? I'm willing to explore all available options.
Thank so much for any advice in advance.
Careless Driving is definitely an insurance premium destroyer. If you're with a standard insurance company you won't be on renewal as they won't renew (they might not anyway with two at fault accidents in the last 5 years) with that conviction on your record. This means you're off to the high risk market with a serious conviction surcharge. Following Too Closely would be a preferable conviction (well, no conviction at all would be preferable but...) as that is a minor conviction in insurance.
Thank God for the Partridge. As an LEO I always lay the Careless. But I never get a court slip for trial. It always and I mean always gets negotiated down. I recommend early resolution and see what the offer is. Likely follow too close.
If it always gets negotiated down then very simply you're laying the wrong charge. You're wasting the time of the prosecutor and the time of the people you charge.
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