Collision with tree gets a careless driving charge

compuman
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Collision with tree gets a careless driving charge

by: compuman on
Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:58 am

I was driving the company's delivery vehicle (the boxy large vans many use. UPS has them painted brown, Canada Post has them painted red, but they are the same vehicle - in this case a 2004 Ford CSC) when in a turn I made a routine brake application. At this moment the rubber cover on the brake pedal slipped off to the right, causing my foot to hit the gas pedal. As a result there was an abrupt increase in vehicle's speed. At this moment, due to the increased centrifugal force, my body was pushed violently into the seatbelt which unlatched. These are old, abused commercial vehicles, in which the seatbelt is clicked 200 times a day. I fell on my back diagonally on the cabin's floor (there is no passenger seat) suffering several back injuries - torn muscles in the upper back, strained neck, compressed disc in the lower back. While I was on my back, unable to reach the brake pedal, the vehicle continued to move at fairly high speed and after a split second it collided with a tree (approx. 20 cm in diameter) which was severed. I was taken to the hospital by ambulance because they thought I might have cracked some bones/vertebrae. I was still on the stretcher when an hour later a police officer showed up with the accident report and a ticket for careless driving, even though he didn't talk to me at all to find out MY side of the story. He said this is just policy, to charge people with careless driving in cases of accidents with injuries. Even though I was the only one involved. He also said there are witnesses saying I was driving at high speed. Based on that and the damage to the vehicle, in his opinion this accident was avoidable and I was driving carelessly. There was no one on this empty street. People showed up AFTER the collision, saying "I heard this noise and I came outside to see what happened." so I doubt these "witnesses" saying I was driving fast, even exist. The police officer said "Don't worry, just take it to court and they'll lower it for you". The accident report doesn't state anything and there's no diagram of the street, impact point, etc. It's pretty much an accident report with the driver's and vehicle's information, not a word more. What would be the best defence in this case? My intention is to plead not guilty and to make no deals for a lesser charge, because this was caused by mechanical issues with the vehicle.

ALSO, I'm not sure of how relevant this is, but the officer put the incorrect location on the offence notice. For example 431 Wellington Dr. instead of 431 Wellington Ave. They are both in the same neighbourhood but it's obviously not the same location, these are different streets. Would this be enough for the charge to be dismissed? Can I say "I plead not guilty to the charge of Careless driving at 431 Wellington Dr. because I wasn't there"? Because the event took place on another street but I'm not charged with that at the actual location? Or bring a motion to dismiss due to incorrect location on the offence notice? Would that work?

At this moment I still haven't received disclosure.


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highwaystar
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by: highwaystar on
Tue Dec 30, 2014 9:57 am

You should hire a lawyer ASAP. Beyond the HTA charge, you need to figure out your Worker's Comp benefits/entitlements and whether you'll also be able to sue for the malfunctioning vehicle. It may be that the business that employs you is NOT the same company that provides the vehicles to your employer (thereby removing the restriction from being able to sue your employer). For instance, many large companies set up separate companies for various functions---one to manage the business and retain employees, another to own assets such as the vehicles, etc. A lawyer will be able to figure that out for you with the proper searches. After all, if the malfunctions were a known defect then you definitely will have a claim. Regardless, I'd be surprised if the Ministry of Labour doesn't investigate this incident since your employer seems to have put you in a vehicle that it knew was prone to malfunction.

As for the HTA offence, your fact scenario sounds incredible to me. Really, its sounds unbelievable (even if it is true). It really DOES leave one questioning how a driver in a slow-moving vehicle would be so knocked off as to not be able to brake again. Speed does seem to be a factor here. If you already knew that your vehicle had several defects and yet you still decided to speed with it, then that might put you in to careless driving territory! Something just doesn't add up---thereby the careless driving charge. Certainly when you receive disclosure, you'll find out what evidence they have----after all, there may even be video evidence somewhere that recorded your incident.

Bottom line: take preventative measure and retain a lawyer. There are many deadlines to consider, so don't delay.


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by: Stanton on
Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:21 pm

Did you post about your accident earlier? I swear I read about this same scenario a few months back. :?

I agree that the sequence of events you describe may be a tough sell in Court. If the Crown can establish a case of careless driving against you, the onus falls back on you to prove it was through no fault of your own. Mechanical defects will likely require some supporting evidence (i.e. a mechanical inspection) to prove in Court. For a complicated case like yours I'd strongly consider getting a professional to represent you.




compuman
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by: compuman on
Tue Dec 30, 2014 11:18 pm

Yes I posted this before but at that time nobody offered advice so I decided to re-post.

I don't have access to the vehicle to take it for inspection and I don't have the authority to take it from my employer. I don't even have any idea if that vehicle is still around or has been scrapped. The accident took place 10 weeks ago.

I'm not worried about Worker's Comp, etc. The union takes care of that stuff as we speak. I'm only interested in how to deal with this traffic charge.


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highwaystar
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by: highwaystar on
Wed Dec 31, 2014 9:43 am

As previously mentioned, definitely retain a lawyer. Anything you say or do on your HTA charge could have significant impact on any claims you need to pursue down the road (e.g. WSIB, insurance benefits, etc.). I'd worry much more about your ability to recover damages and long-term pension benefits then the $400 you'd pay if you're guilty on this careless charge. What is said (i.e. recorded) on the record in POA court can later be used against you. You therefore definitely need legal advice on formulating a 'global' strategy'.


compuman
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by: compuman on
Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:44 am

What about the street being recorded incorrectly? Is that a fatal error? The streets are in the same area, but they are different streets. I couldn't have been in 2 places at the same time. I suspect the evidence (whatever that is) will be for the correct street, where the accident took place, while the offence notice states I am charged with careless driving on a different street.


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by: Halsy on
Tue Feb 17, 2015 3:43 pm

Given that his injuries were self-inflicted due to contributory negligence it's unlikely he'd be successful in his lawsuit. Also, as for the cop making a minor forced error on the ticket that probably won't wash either. About the only time that works is when they screw up the license plate because they're ticketing a completely different vehicle.


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