Results of my first accident

Well, after getting about 30 postal letters from lawyers in the area telling me how serious a “reckless driving” charge is, I decided to hire a lawyer.  I didn’t call on any that had sent me the advertisements.  I went online and did some research and found Mark Nicewicz, Esq.

I called Mark’s office and his receptionist put me through to him.  Mark and I talked and he suggested that it was such an easy case that I didn’t really need a lawyer.  But I asked what the benefit would be and he said “peace of mind that you will won’t get caught up in misrepresenting yourself in front of the judge which might lead to a postponement and a search to find witnesses.”

So, after talking to Mark I thought he seemed genuine and so I hired him.  The fee was $600 flat rate and he took all of the information about the accident.  I paid the $600 to his receptionist over the phone and he sent me a retainer letter.

On March 15, I drove to Leesburg and found the courthouse.  I went up to the court and it was locked so I sat outside on a bench.  Officer Lake was there in a small room preparing his documents.  Other people that had accidents in the same area were all there so this session was probably just Officer Lake’s citations.  Turns out that just about everyone that was there had an almost identical accident to mine.

At 8:00 the court opened and we all went in and took seats.  AT 8:30 the judge didn’t show but the prosecuting attorney did as did the bailiff, the court recorder, and Officer Lake.  Mark (my lawyer) went straight into the office of the prosecuting attorney and told me to tell the Judge that I have a lawyer and would like to pass if I get called before Mark returned.

At about 8:40 the phone on the bench rang and we all overheard the bailiff as he answered the phone and told the judge that we were in court 2F and not 1D.  So, we waited a bit longer.  By the time the judge got to the court, my lawyer had finished up and came into the court room to sit down beside me.

Mark explained that the prosecutor had read the report from the officer and my statements and had reduced the charge to “general equipment failure” which carried a $250 fine and 0 points.  I didn’t know what to think but I figured that it was better than I would have done had I tried to talk on my own.

Then the judge arrived and they called the first person.  Same exact accident as mine on the same day.  It was raining, someone stopped short, the person ran into them and was charged with reckless.  The woman pleaded “guilty with explanation” and the judge listened.  He then said “I will reduce the charge to “improper” which carries a $50 fine and 3 points.  How do you plead?” and the lady said “guilty”.  The next guy was called and the exact same scenario played out.

Then the prosecutor came into the court and handed the bailiff a yellow piece of paper.  The bailiff handed it to the court recorder who then put it on the top of the stack.  Mark leaned over and said “that is your case”.

They were going in alphabetical order by last name and were still in the “A’s”.  But as soon as they finished the next case, they called me up.  Mark and I walked up to the bar and the judge said “How do you plead on the reduced charge of general equipment failure with a $250 fine and 0 points” and Mark said “guilty your honor”.  The judge then told the bailiff to give me a card to pay the clerk and then dismissed us.

Mark walked with me down to the clerks office and explained that $250 and 0 points is a lot better than $50 and 3 points and that now my insurance wouldn’t be affected.  That is when I realized that the lawyer was well worth it.

We were done by 9am and I went to work.

My first accident

These are my thoughts about the accident that occured Feburary 2 2012.

I had a meeting at 9:30. When I got up, it was raining so I left earlier than usual to make sure that I got to work in plenty of time. As it is, I still made it to work with more than 30 minutes to spare.

I was driving on Route 50 and ended up beside an unmarked Maryland police car. Everyone on the road seemed to recognize that it was a police car as everyone was driving with more space between them and a bit more cautiously.

606 condensed into 2 lanes and the policeman was about 3 cars behind me. then it widened back out to 4 lanes at the bridge over 267 just before Moran.

When it widened out, I moved to the left lane because I would be continuing over 28. Knowing that the truck is slow to accelerate and slow to stop, I always keep about 4 car lengths between me and the car in front of me.

Just as I got over the bridge over 267, a green minivan moved over from the right lane in front of me leaving about 1 to 2 car lengths in front of me. Everyone was being careful because the unmarked Maryland police car was beside me in the right lane at this point.

I let off the accelerator to widen the gap between the minivan and me, at the bridge. It is a slight decline but the truck is like a rolling brick and slows down quickly. So by the time we were at the light, there was at least 2 to 3 carlengths between me and the minivan.

The light turned yellow just before the minivan was at the white line and the minivan stopped short. I was already slowing and stomped the brakes to the floor. The ABS thumped in the pedal but the truck couldn’t hold a grip on the road and slid. I just held it straight and the ABS kept thumping. I almost came to a stop but ended up hitting the minivan.

There wasn’t even the slightest damage to the truck, but the truck hit the minivan bumper and then crawled over the bumper (pushing it down) and hit the rear door. There was a perfect imprint of my license plate holder and the bumper in her back door. I had almost completely stopped and there isn’t even a smudge of paint on the truck bumper from the collision.

She pulled through the light and stopped in the left lane. After the light turned green, I pulled forward and pulled off in the median just beside the left lane. A Loudoun County Sheriff car pulled up almost immediately so I assume that the Maryland police man called in the accident.

The woman got out of the car and immediately said “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to get a ticket for running a yellow with the policeman.” The Loudoun officer asked if we were hurt and I was initially surprised by the question because the impact had happened at maybe 2 miles an hour. But I realized this was standard procedure. He was pretty smart to ask us to pull to another area of the road to be out of the way of traffic and quick to make sure we weren’t between the vehicles.

Shortly thereafter a Loudoun Accident investigator came up and took over. He gave us the forms that we filled out and we exchanged the insurance information.

The only thing I can attribute this to is that the truck couldn’t hold a grip in the rain and the minivan changed lanes and then did an abrupt stop that I just couldn’t stop in time for.