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Unusual wreck

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by ottomatic, Aug 19, 2011.


  1. ottomatic

    ottomatic
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    I was on the scene of a motorcycle-car collision recently. There were three other officers and everybody seemed to have a different idea regarding liability.

    Four lane road, two in each direction. There is a big hole in the outside lane going Westbound, with warning barricades surrounding it, but not advising that the lane is closed. There is not enough space for a car to get by, but plenty of room for a motorcycle. There are multiple cars in the inside lane (they have no choice) and the motorcycle in the inside of the outside lane. Right after the hole there is a three way intersection with a road going Northbound. One of the cars in the inside lane slows down, then turns right to go N/B on that road and is struck by the motorcycle.

    The opinions regarding liability seem to revolve around whether the lane was closed, or merely partially blocked, and whether the motorcyclist had the right to proceed in his lane

    Thusly:
    Option 1 Motorcyclist is at fault, as he shoiuldn't have been there.
    Option 2 The car driver is at fault, because she should have looked to see if she could turn safely.
    Option 3 The city is at fault, because if they had officially closed the lane, the accident could not have happened

    What is your opinion or better yet if anyone has relevant case law that would be even better. BTW this happened in TN.
     

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  2. BamaTrooper

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    So the cones, signs, barrels, were around a traffic hazard (hole) and cars had to leave lane to avoid it?

    Nothing prevented cars from returning to the lane after they passed the traffic hazard?

    If so, sounds like the motorcyclist had the right of way. Photo or line drawing might help clarify.

    ETA- "right after"? give me a distance, that might change my opinion.
     

    #2 BamaTrooper, Aug 19, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2011
  3. Jeff82

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    Lane's not closed near intersection. Car at fault.
     
  4. Cochese

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    Cars fault, unless there was an "official traffic control device" IE a sign, warning light, cones, barricades, etc. which CLOSED the lane.

    Car is at fault, but the city or their contractor is civilly liable should it reach a tort.
     
  5. CAcop

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    I agree.
     
  6. MeefZah

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    Cover is Code 3

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    Car at fault.

    Consider the hole as something else obstructing a portion of the lane and causing cars to have to deviate... a dog in the road, a bucket that fell off a truck, whatever.

    Just because there is an obstruction in the outside lane, that doesn't relieve the operator of a car that is using the inside lane to avoid striking the object from treating the outside lane as he normally would.
     
  7. COLOSHOOTR

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    I would have cited the driver of the car for the accident causing violation. Depending on how much room was between the barricades and intersection it could be either be written as taking ROW on right turn or turning from wrong lane/position maybe even careless if you want to go with the catch all (atleast how it's written here).

    The only way it would be the MC drivers fault is if lane# 2 was properly closed and marked all the way to the intersection. Then it would be his fault for driving around a barricade into a closed lane of traffic taking the cars ROW.
     
  8. DaBigBR

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    No Infidels!

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    If it happened here, I would be going with option 4: we don't determine fault, insurance companies do. We may right a citation for any violations observed or uncovered through the course of the collision investigation, but fault is ultimately an issue for the insurance companies.

    If I was working it I would cite the car either for turning from improper lane, unsafe lane change, or something similar depending on the distances and so forth.
     
  9. Patchman

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    Once past the barricades, the right lane would be be considered open again.

    I'd have to say the car was at fault. She was changing lanes and should have looked at the right lane to make sure it was clear (just like any other driver there making the right turn to go N/B). I can see how she probably thought since she just passed the barricades, there couldn't possibly be another motorist already in the right lane.
     
  10. Ajon412

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    I concur with the above posters..Options 2 applies.....Although I do agree with DaBigBR, there are some departments that require the investigating officer to determine fault.
     
  11. DaBigBR

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    No Infidels!

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    I have even seen some states where the report form discusses who is at fault.
     
  12. MeefZah

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    Ohio being one. "Unit Error" assigns blame.
     
  13. BamaTrooper

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    In AL, both can contribute, but there is an indication for prime contributing unit.
     
  14. ray9898

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    Car at fault.. Merging/crossing that lane required them to yield to any traffic already occupying it.
     
  15. Mayhem like Me

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    Car at fault turning/crossing and needed to yield to oncoming.
     
  16. ottomatic

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    This is a picture of the accident site as had been requested. Now, is this a lane obstruction or a lane closure, and would it be reasonable for a motorcyclist to continue in the outside lane?
     
    #16 ottomatic, Aug 24, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011
  17. TheGreatGonzo

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    I believe there might be sufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a mime caused this accident.
     
  18. DaBigBR

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    No Infidels!

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    I think it's an obstruction and not a closure. Here, it could be listed as a contributing factor in the crash, but I think that the motorcycle has ever right to use the remainder of the lane.
     
  19. ray9898

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    If the lane was not closed then traffic in that lane maintains right of way. The car turning in front of the motorcycle who had right of way is at fault and possibly the road obstruction would be a contributing factor.