What is the name of your state? Texas
I am writing about an accident that I was involved in a few weeks ago, in which I was assigned fault. Here is what happened:
I was traveling down a four lane highway (two lanes each direction) in the left hand lane. Up ahead, there is an 18 wheeler moving from the right lane into the left lane (in front of me) and slowing down. Thinking that he is intending to turn left, I move over into the right lane to go around him. As I am close to passing him on his right side, he begins turning RIGHT, directly across my lane of traffic, intending to enter a gas station parking lot. (I assume that he had moved into the left lane in order to _swing wide_ into the gas station, but I never saw a blinker.) I see that I won_t be able to stop in time, so I break hard and turn right as well, entering the gas station ahead of the truck (who is turning slowly), and pulling over on the side and coming to a complete stop, narrowly avoiding a collision. However, the trucker, still not noticing my presence, continues on into the parking lot, intending to drive around the back of the convenience store towards the gas pumps on the other side. My van is stopped on the side, and as he straightens his trailer out, it scrapes along the side of my van, pushing me forward several feet and causing damage to my vehicle. At this point, he hears glass breaking and stops his rig.
We assess the damage, and I mention that he swung into the left hand lane before turning right, and he immediately denies doing this. So we calmly call the police and wait for them to arrive. While waiting, the man conversationally shares with me his name, and the fact that he is a former county commissioner. (At the time I didn't really know what that job entailed, and so didn't display the appropriate caution.) Soon a tow truck arrives, and I am confused as a man jumps out and starts taking pictures of the scene and talking about how I should not have called the police, since the damage to my van was so minor and I could have fixed it for cash. I am dumbfounded, until the trucker finally introduces the tow truck driver as his nephew. They co-own a towing service in this small town. I tend to be a bit naive, and having never been in a wreck before, I do not realize at the time that I may have been intentionally intimidated and manipulated by these two people.
The police officer arrives and immediately the other party goes to him and privately explains his version of what happened. I wait patiently for the officer to approach me for my side of the story, but he never does. So eventually I approach him myself and ask if I can tell what I believe happened. He listens as I tell him that the trucker pulled over well into the left lane before turning right, and that I moved into the right lane intending to pass him. I tell him that I did not see a blinker signal. I went on to explain what happened after that. He did not ask a single question, or ask me to verify anything at all. He walked around taking pictures for a while before coming to me to tell me that it was my fault for _failing to control my vehicle_. I was really shocked at that, and repeated that the other driver had crossed my lane of traffic to turn into the gas station. He took more pictures, asked absolutely no questions, and finally left, saying that he would need to speak with his superior on the situation to decide who was at fault. We would have to wait for the accident report to be filed, before finding out what he had surmised.
I just got the accident report in a few days ago, and I absolutely could not believe how false it was. I don_t know if the officer was incompetent, unconcerned, or if he knew the other party, which is extremely likely in this small town, with the man having been a former county commissioner as well as a tow truck operator. I feel victimized by what he put in his accident report.
The report stated that driver #1 (that_s the trucker) said he had turned right into a gas station from the right lane. It stated that driver #2 (me) stated that the #1 had been _partially in the left lane before turning_ and did not see the driver_s blinker on. (I told the officer that #1 was completely in the left lane before turning.) The officer failed to state whether #1 even claimed that his blinker was on. He didn_t even ask. The report goes on to state that #2 (me) swerved off the road and into the ditch to avoid #1, going into the parking lot and striking #1 on the trailer rig, causing damage to both vehicles. (What?? The tire marks clearly showed that I went only a few feet off the side of the road, and then came to a complete stop, before the rig hit ME. Also, the rig was not damaged at ALL, the other driver had already admitted that himself.) To add insult to injury, the officer drew a diagram of what he believes happened, showing the trucker clearly in the right lane turning right, and my van swerving off into the ditch and then hitting the trailer rig of the truck in the parking lot. In other words, the police officer drew the diagram based only on what the other man reported (falsely) and not on what I stated, or on what the evidence (marks on the road and in the grass) indicated.
My insurance agency took one look at the police report and said they would not attempt to make a claim on my behalf from the other driver_s insurance. They were totally unconcerned that my story was very different from the officer_s, and said that it didn_t matter what lane the truck was in, as long as it_s blinker was on. (Which we have no idea about, since the officer didn_t bother asking the driver about it.) The ins. co. did not bother to contact the other driver, or his insurance co., or ask to see any of the pictures from the scene that the officer was supposed to have taken but which were mysteriously not included in the police report.
Someone (if anyone has read this far ;-) please be honest with me... Is there anything I can do about this? If there is nothing I can do then I will try to swallow this bitter pill, pay my deductible and my new higher insurance rates, and get over it.
What determines fault in an accident? Would it have made any difference if I could prove that my vehicle was completely stopped when his rig continued forward and hit me? (marks in grass showed this) Would it have mattered if I could prove through pictures that he had obviously turned right from the left hand lane? (His rig was almost completely straight, which couldn't have happened had he not swung very wide into the left lane before turning in.) Does it make a difference if the officer personally knew the other person involved in the accident? (It seems obvious that the officer was biased...) Or am I wasting my time and sanity? Thanks for your time and advice on this!