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Minor rear-ender at stop sign; exaggerated injury claim
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:03 pm 
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In May I rear-ended a car in east-end Toronto. The other driver had stopped at a stop sign (which is situated a good 20 metres from the intersection. This intersection (Maughn Crescent & Dundas St E) is tricky because if you stop behind the stop sign, you'll certainly have to stop again, or proceed very slowly to see the fast-moving traffic going around the curve on Dundas St. The other driver stopped and started a couple of times. The last time she started, I figured she was finally going to make her right turn onto Dundas. I looked to the left, applied the gas to move up to the intersection and hit her rear bumper. I was pretty close to her when we were both stopped, so there wasn't much of an impact, but it was certainly enough that it would be upsetting to the other driver. When I went to apologize and ask her to come and examine her rear bumper she told me she needed an ambulance. I was in surprised at her appearance: she wouldn't turn her head to look at me or remove her hands from clenching the steering wheel. I tried to convince her to phone someone to come and assure her that she (and the car) were okay, but she insisted on phoning 911. Police inspector arrived quickly and spoke briefly to both of us. She told me I would be named as 'at-fault' (which I expected, of course) and added she was letting me off with a caution. She went to her cruiser for quite a while (to write notes?), then she spent more time talking with other driver. After close to half an hour, (I was told that I could not leave until paramedics showed up to remove other driver) the officer came to me and told me that anything I said would could be used in a court process (I assumed the other driver stated that she was going to sue me) and went on to tell me that she had to charge me with Careless Driving. I was flabbergasted. When I asked why she changed her mind, she told me that the minute paramedics show up, somebody MUST be charged with an offence. She went on to explain that the charge she used to lay (Follow Too Closely) was no longer available to her. She implied that there is no such charge any more. I pressed her with a few more questions and was told "My hands are tied." The other driver was undoubtedly shaken up and on top of that, she was very afraid of what was going to happen when her husband showed up. I don't believe that she was physically injured (although she told me that she was 'just recovering' from her last accident). I don't believe she would be at all a credible witness.
Now my questions:
1 Although her version of the accident (as retold in the officer's notes received yesterday) doesn't wildly exaggerate my 'careless driving' she notes that I had been following too closely. She also describes putting her hands on the windshield to minimize the effect of the impact. This surely didn't happen as I was so close behind her car at the moment she stopped that she would have been looking at whatever it was that caused her to stop for the third time and not staring into her rear-view mirror). If the other driver does not show up in court, will the J.P. listen to the police recount that driver's version of events? Can I object to this as 'hearsay'? If the other driver doesn't show up and there is absolutely no evidence produced concerning her injuries, can the claim of injury be brought up? In other words, does the fact that the paramedics were called to the scene serve as 'proof' that an injury occurred?
2 I went to a collision reporting center the day after the accident thinking that someone there would examine and/or photograph the damage to my front plastic bumper guard. (It's a break - about 3 cm wide and 1 or 2 mm wide. I was sent away when I told them that an accident report had been filled out by metro police officer. I'm quite sure that officer, however, did not take any photographs of either bumper guard. The damage to the other driver's car was insignificant; plastic was not broken at all, but I could see (and feel with my fingers) a scuff and slight depression. The officer's notes are a bit inaccurate here: she claims more damage to the other driver's car ($400) than to mine ($200) and mentions 2 small dents. I asked for photographs as part of disclosure, but got none. I have been trying (so far, without success) to get photos from the other driver's insurance company's adjustor; or at least a detailed description of the damage. Will the J.P. give much credence to the investigating officer's ability to determine the cost of autobody repair/repaint?
3 In general, I don't feel that the officer will be hell-bent on trying to make a case for 'Careless Driving' in this case. At one point, she told me flat out "It's the wrong charge." Assuming someone is going to continue moving forward, then looking sideways to check oncoming traffic and consequently bumping a car that stops again for no reason) seems like the flimsiest of all possible scenarios that J.P.s must encounter.
What are the odds of this being withdrawn if it's just the investigating officer and me who show up on Dec 10? I can supply her notes (they are very brief) if it would help.


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Re: Minor rear-ender at stop sign; exaggerated injury claim
PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:43 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:08 pm
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Location: Ontario
If she was injured or not is not relevant to your defense. The other driver not showing is likely going to hurt the case against you but remember you made statements to the police officer likely admitting that you rear ended another car. Even if you proved there was no damage and no injury I would not expect that you will get off. You may be offered a reduced charge.


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Re: Minor rear-ender at stop sign; exaggerated injury claim
PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:11 pm 
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Thanks, ynotp, for the response. I read your other forum post regarding Careless Driving. Your advice appears to be thoughtful and is appreciated, even though your advice isn't what I was hoping to hear. In my case, I did make a statement to the police officer where I admitted hitting the other car. In her notes, she also quotes me as saying "Haste was a factor in the accident". She hadn't yet warned me about the fact that my statements could be used in court. After that warning, she charged me and I said nothing further that would incriminate me. I've read several times in provincial court advice forums that if the other driver doesn't show up to provide testimony, the case is automatically thrown out. Clearly, you disagree with that and seem to feel that if I can be proven to have rear-ended another car, no matter how minor the impact, I stand a good chance of being convicted. If the other driver DOES show up to testify, and if I am confident that she will appear to be an unreliable witness, would that actually be better than simply hoping to convince the J.P. that the nature of my carelessness was momentary and not worthy of punishment (I've read some CANLIT cases where convictions were overturned due to the lack of proof that the inattention or carelessness was worthy of severe punishment that a Careless Driving conviction carries.


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Re: Minor rear-ender at stop sign; exaggerated injury claim
PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:14 pm 
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Sorry for the additional post, but I have another question YNOTP:
You say that whether or not the other driver was injured is irrelevant. I thought a good strategy at trial would be to try to get the police officer to repeat her statement that it was because the other driver claimed to be injured that she was forced to lay a charge that she otherwise would not have laid. Would this approach be successful, in your opinion?


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Re: Minor rear-ender at stop sign; exaggerated injury claim
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:01 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:08 pm
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Location: Ontario
I'm not an expert but even if the officer might have been following protocol not to exercise discretion but that is not a defense. Only way to beat the charge during trial is to argue successfully that would were not being careless. Read through the forums and see if the standards apply to you and if you can make similar arguments in court. If you don't plan to plea bargain I would hire someone good; careless is a serious charge, team that conviction with the payout the lady you rear ended will get and your insurance is going to skyrocket.


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