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Thread: Hit by car on Columbia Pike,driver at fault/ticketed.Officer changed fault on report.

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by wabisabi View Post
    This is really what I would like to get to the bottom of. I am completely confused as to why he changed it. And I am not sure how to go about finding this out. I suppose I could try and call his supervisor, but I'm not sure if there is a process to do so. When I emailed the officer about what happened, he never got back to me. It basically took my wife CC'ing his supervisor to get a response, and a pretty defensive one at that. It's really frustrating.
    One possibility is that the driver decided to change his story ("He popped out of nowhere!"). He may have done this at the prompting of his lawyer or insurance company.
    Then the question becomes, why did they accept his changed story? Does he know someone in the PD or County? Or is it just sympathizing with the windshield perspective?

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    Quote Originally Posted by wabisabi View Post
    This is really what I would like to get to the bottom of. I am completely confused as to why he changed it. And I am not sure how to go about finding this out. I suppose I could try and call his supervisor, but I'm not sure if there is a process to do so. When I emailed the officer about what happened, he never got back to me. It basically took my wife CC'ing his supervisor to get a response, and a pretty defensive one at that. It's really frustrating.
    Be the squeaky wheel.

    Email the police chief: mfarr@arlingtonva.us
    Copy the county manager: countymanager@arlingtonva.us
    Copy the county board: countyboard@arlingtonva.us

    As the injured party, you absolutely deserve to know why the accident report was changed after the fact and without consultation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    One possibility is that the driver decided to change his story ("He popped out of nowhere!"). He may have done this at the prompting of his lawyer or insurance company.
    Then the question becomes, why did they accept his changed story? Does he know someone in the PD or County? Or is it just sympathizing with the windshield perspective?
    It's probably simpler than that. Cop on the scene took his reports and notes, probably didn't write a lot of it down. Finished his patrol shift and got back to his desk a couple hours later. Wrote up his report based on his notes and memory; maybe even talked with his colleagues or chief. They had a debate about how fast is too fast for a cyclist using the crosswalk, just like many of the posts in this thread. Cop decided that 12 mph was too fast. He changed his mind before he made it final.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunyata View Post
    Be the squeaky wheel.

    Email the police chief: mfarr@arlingtonva.us
    Copy the county manager: countymanager@arlingtonva.us
    Copy the county board: countyboard@arlingtonva.us

    As the injured party, you absolutely deserve to know why the accident report was changed after the fact and without consultation.
    Doing this. Thank you.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brendan von Buckingham View Post
    Cop decided that 12 mph was too fast.
    If ACPD thinks there's a defacto speed limit on the sidewalk, that seems like something we should know about. We should also probably talk about what it is. I don't see anything in the Code to give them a foothold to make one up, but sounds like a conversation to have.

    Looks like this will be our main source of questions for ACPD at the December ABAC meeting. They likely will be unwilling to discuss this particular case, but asking hypothetically:
    1) Whether ACPD considers a particular speed "too fast" for a sidewalk (and whether that is context dependent, etc)
    2) What sources of information ACPD looks at in developing incident reports -- sounds like the victim here had Strava and ACPD never even asked for that information.
    3) What the process is for review of an officer's report - both before and after it's entered into the system.

    If anyone has questions to add to that list -- either specific to this thread or more general -- please let me know (the sooner the better - ACPD likes to prepare).

    Also, we're going to discuss ACPD bringing statistics to each meeting (they come quarterly). Seems to me like a standard list would be helpful both for them and for us. If you have ideas on what stats you'd like to see from ACPD on a regular basis, please let me know (comment, PM, email, etc etc). I'll start a thread for this as well, so you'll have 2 comment threads to post on (but really, I'll check both, you only need to post on one).

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    If ACPD thinks there's a defacto speed limit on the sidewalk, that seems like something we should know about.
    ISTM more likely ACPD reckoned OP violated this portion of 46.2-924: "No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic." It's not a matter of how fast one may ride on the sidewalk but how slowly one should enter the crosswalk, and I think it would be absurd to ask ACPD for a specific number, as there are too many factors at play.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterw_diy View Post
    ISTM more likely ACPD reckoned OP violated this portion of 46.2-924: "No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic." It's not a matter of how fast one may ride on the sidewalk but how slowly one should enter the crosswalk, and I think it would be absurd to ask ACPD for a specific number, as there are too many factors at play.
    If that's the part they're citing, and the person in question was crossing in front of a stopped car at a crosswalk, does that mean that ACPD believes that pedestrians may never cross the street in the presence of a stopped car because the car might violate the pedestrian's clear right of way?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    If that's the part they're citing, and the person in question was crossing in front of a stopped car at a crosswalk, does that mean that ACPD believes that pedestrians may never cross the street in the presence of a stopped car because the car might violate the pedestrian's clear right of way?
    "never", "clear". OMG what is it with all the hyperbole in this thread?

    I think the law is trying to provide reasonable balance. I hate car-centric victim-blaming as much as the next forum member, but I also believe a motor vehicle operator can't be expected to stop for someone using a crosswalk without regard to that pedestrian's speed and visibility.

    dasgeh, does ACPD really need to assign blame for all collisions? How in the blazes are the police - who often say they can't press charges for infractions they did not personally witness - supposed to determine who's responsible for a collision they didn't witness? (I think it would be interesting to analyze both "accident" reports and citations for traffic - related infractions including jaywalking to see if there is, as anecdotes suggest, a pattern of a tendency to cite or blame victims in pedestrian traffic collisions that the police did not witness first hand.)

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterw_diy View Post
    "never", "clear". OMG what is it with all the hyperbole in this thread?

    I think the law is trying to provide reasonable balance. I hate car-centric victim-blaming as much as the next forum member, but I also believe a motor vehicle operator can't be expected to stop for someone using a crosswalk without regard to that pedestrian's speed and visibility.
    I've been hit before, by a person who never looked to the right before proceeding from a stop into a crosswalk. I've also driven a lot, and while I'm sometimes surprised to see a pedestrian or cyclist when I'm looking around before I proceed, I'm surprised while I'm looking around not because I just ran over them. If there's not enough time to look to the right before trying to speed into the gap in traffic during a right on red, not moving is the correct option. I'm far more likely to believe that the driver never even looked (based on my own experience) than I am to believe that it was impossible for the driver to have seen the cyclist. The "disregard of traffic" standard is meant to prevent a pedestrian from causing a situation where it is impossible for the driver to stop or change direction to avoid a collision, not to prevent a pedestrian from annoying the driver by causing the driver to slow, change direction, or stop to avoid infringing on the pedestrian's right of way. If a driver is stopped, it is certainly not impossible for him to not start moving. It's not hyperbole to ask when a pedestrian is allowed to cross the street if the answer is "not when there's a car stopped at a crosswalk". It certainly couldn't be "when a car is speeding toward a crosswalk"--the "disregard of traffic" pearl-clutchers are feeling faint at the very idea--so that just leaves "when there's no car in sight" or "when a driver graciously signals to give you the right of way". Those are not standards which actually exist in the law. I've been known to shout or actually tap on a window at particularly egregious intersections when I have the walk signal and it's clear that a driver has no idea I'm there because they've never once looked to the right and are still creeping forward while looking at traffic from the left. That's not hyperbole, it happens at least 10% of the time I have to cross traffic coming off the DTR west onto the FFX Co Parkway north, for example. I've actually stood there with a family of 5 while the signal went from "don't walk" to "walk" and drivers were completely oblivious. We must have all not been visible, right? There's maybe 20 seconds of "walk" every couple of minutes at that intersection, and your standard is what, that people unwilling to shout and bang on windows should just wait a couple of minutes for the next one lest they "disregard the traffic [that's given them absolutely no regard whatsoever]"? (The practical answer is that you cross during the long stretch during the "don't walk" signal when there are no cars present and ignore VDOT's pedestrian-hostile road designs and light timings, but that surely can't be answer in law either.)

    dasgeh, does ACPD really need to assign blame for all collisions? How in the blazes are the police - who often say they can't press charges for infractions they did not personally witness - supposed to determine who's responsible for a collision they didn't witness? (I think it would be interesting to analyze both "accident" reports and citations for traffic - related infractions including jaywalking to see if there is, as anecdotes suggest, a pattern of a tendency to cite or blame victims in pedestrian traffic collisions that the police did not witness first hand.)
    That's certainly a good question, because we have definitely heard that police can't do anything if they didn't witness an infraction (except when they cite an unconscious victim based on driver testimony/etc).
    Last edited by mstone; 11-09-2017 at 07:08 AM.

  10. #30
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    Resurrecting this thread! I wanted to provide an update on the situation.

    In January (30 months after the incident) both parties, myself and the driver gave a deposition, with attorneys present for both insurance parties, and myself. The cop who changed the at fault on the citation was supposed to be present, but he never showed up and ACPD confirmed that not only was he not employed with them anymore, but no one at the time even knew who he was, or who is listed supervisor was at the time. Super strange. I wonder why he was expected to be there, and who had even spoken or communicated with him from the parties at the deposition. The driver was apologetic at the deposition, he admitted fault, and he was very nice. I think what happened was that when the officer caught wind of my GPS data, which was included in evidence that was distributed to all parties, he bailed from the situation, as he had egg on his face for making incorrect assumptions that went against his initial judgement. Not to mention the driver admitting fault at the scene of the accident, and the officer coming to the ER to visit me and verbally stating that he had cited the driver and the driver was at fault. Who knows why the officer changed his story, but it really made my life difficult.

    Anyway, the drivers insurance decided to settle and apparently they were really nasty about it ("I would rather die than pay another dollar" is what the claims adjuster told my attorney). It turns out the driver did actually have insurance, but he was impossible to locate after the incident, and his insurance company, Erie, was highly uncooperative the whole time.

    So over 2.5 years later, I finally got a settlement for my fractured patella incurred by a driver T-boning me on Columbia Pike. Had the responding officer not changed his story and listed me at fault when I clearly was not, all of this would have been settled 2 years ago. It's been a long frustrating time. But I'm running stronger than I was before the accident, I set a PR at the Richmond Half last November, my fastest time since the Brooklyn Half which was 2 weeks before I was hit in 2017! I'm still doing PT for my knee, but it's more for maintenance and preventative now. I'm still biking to work. The settlement figure is 10x what I paid out of pocket, and my expenses were well over 5k. I honestly thought I would get nothing out of this, I just wanted the case closed so I could mentally move on, so I was shocked to be getting anything near that. This whole situation created an insidious rift in my life and I'm glad it's over.

    I thought the message board might be interested in the outcome. We still need better options on the Pike! From what I understand, they are moving forward with the widening of the sidewalks for multi-purpose uses. Anything is safer than the current situation.
    Last edited by wabisabi; 02-25-2020 at 12:50 PM.

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