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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was hoping someone here might have some good insight/advice on how to handle a situation that occurred today.

I was driving home from work and was making a left hand turn off of a main road when a tow truck driver pulled out of a that same side road and hit the rear driver's side of my car. We both saw it coming and were traveling pretty slowly by the time we actually collided. There was some minor damage to my vehicle and absolutely none to the front bumper of the tow truck.

I got out of the car and the driver started saying that it was my fault because even though he had a stop sign he could go because he had waited for 3 seconds and I had to yield after his 3 second wait. I said I was on a road without a stop sign. He re-iterated the 3 second rule. I said, fine, let's get out of the road and just call a police officer to settle the situation. I figured it would be pretty cut and dry considering the back of my car was damaged.

We wait awhile and the police show up. I started to suspect things were going to go poorly when the police officer and the tow truck driver started talking about the tow truck driver's sister and how she was doing. The police officer then asked what happened and the tow truck driver claimed I was saying he hit me but in fact he never hit me and that the damage was already there. His excuse was that his truck would have damage to it as well if he really hit me. At this point two random people from down the street show up, say they saw the whole thing and that he didn't hit me, and then they left. I asked the police officer to take down everything and put it in the accident report. He said he couldn't do that because he wasn't there to see it and that he can only do that if the damage exceeds 1,500 dollars. I asked him if the damage on my car, in his opinion, exceeded said amount to which he responded, "How should I know?" Perfect.

I figured this wasn't going to go anywhere so I said, "Fine, let's exchange information and we can settle this in a court." The police officer then started to get angry with me. He started saying the tow truck driver didn't hit me because there was no paint on the trucks bumper and my car was clearly missing paint. He said he has been doing this 25 years and that has never happened. I asked him what paint he was talking about and he said, "Look at those scrapes in your paint!" I showed him that it was the rubber from the truck's bumper by rubbing the "paint" off of my car. The police officer then responded by saying, "Well, it doesn't matter because his bumper is too high to hit your car." I said, "Okay, then write all this down." He responded that he couldn't because he wasn't there for the accident.

Finally I said, "It doesn't matter, we'll just settle it in court. Can I have your badge number and full name?" The police officer then got really angry and said, "You can have my last name only." I asked again for his badge number and inquired as to why he wouldn't give it to me. Finally, he relented and gave me the badge number. He then said that if he found out that I filed a claim at all he would make sure "they come after me for lying and filing a false claim." I said, "Officer, if I'm lying and you know this from your experience please write everything down in a report so it can be on record." Again said he couldn't do that because he wasn't there for accident but he would make sure it happened if I filed any claim.

Finally I got all the information and left the scene. Once I got home I filed the claim with my insurance and I'll be filing the accident claim with the State Police instead of the local police. So, my question is how exactly should I proceed? I have no accidents and no tickets on my record. I don't need the money from someone else to repair damage to my car. I have never made any insurance claims before. I've never had any issues with the law. The other guy clearly has local friends on the police force and some odd witnesses that I suspect wouldn't actually show up in court. Can I take this to court and actually expect to get anywhere with this? I'd prefer not to end up with something like this as my fault with my insurance company.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
 

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Wow. You need to consult a lawyer. Preferably, the best local lawyer that you can find.

(and maybe a better screen name?)
 

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None of my driver exams or study materals ever mentioned a 3 second rule. I consider it unlikely that Massachusetts has such a rule in its traffic code. The codes I had to study indicate after a full stop at a sign, one only proceeds if it is appropriate to do so, i.e., safe, no pedestrians to run over, no bicycle riders to knock down and no vehicles to crash into in a negligent manner!

From your description, it is clear he hit you. Perhaps he had been drinking.

By all means get a well-connected local lawyer -- one who knows where the bodies are buried.
 

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I suggest filing the claim with the insurance company and let them handle all the legal stuff. Once you start your own legal actions, the insurance company will take a hands-off stance and you are then on your own. If it turns out to be a cheap repair the insurance company will probably just fix it. If it is an expensive repair, they will go after the tow truck company's insurance for reimbursement. Just write-off all the emotional stuff, otherwise you will likely just be in for much more of the same. Life's too short.
 

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If he didn't hit you, why did he stop? Likewise, how/why would "witnesses" see something, attest to something, that never happened?
 

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As far as I know, the three-second rule applies only to food dropped on the ground. That sounds absurd. Next time, I'd just take all the pertinent information and let the insurance companies sort it out, whether the other party is rational and honest, or crazy and a liar. The less said at the scene of an accident, the better, IMO.
 

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My advice is to pick your battles. If it is a relatively easy (cheap) repair, you may be better off just fixing it and forgetting about the incident. If you must live or work in this town, you may not want to start making enemies with the local police force regardless of who is right or wrong. A lawyer will probably cost you a lot more than the repair, and you're likely never to get anywhere. I have a good friend who has been fighting a battle with a small North Carolina town for two years that started as a traffic stop. His high priced lawyer was no match for a few crooked cops and the local magistrate. After involving the local media, state police, and thousands of dollars in legal fees, he ended up avoiding jail time on trumped up charges only by signing away his rights to sue them for battery. It got real ugly and he ended up having to move.
 

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If he didn't hit you, why did he stop? Likewise, how/why would "witnesses" see something, attest to something, that never happened?

Yeah, good point. "I saw the whole thing and nothing happened!" "Then what did you see?"


Three second rule. He must be banking on some ignorant sixteen year old falling for that one.


Tell your insurance company. It's their business now.
 

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I suggest filing the claim with the insurance company and let them handle all the legal stuff. Once you start your own legal actions, the insurance company will take a hands-off stance and you are then on your own. If it turns out to be a cheap repair the insurance company will probably just fix it. If it is an expensive repair, they will go after the tow truck company's insurance for reimbursement. Just write-off all the emotional stuff, otherwise you will likely just be in for much more of the same. Life's too short.
+1. This is where you get what you pay for w/insurance. If you've got a good insurance company, their legal dept. will be all over this. If you've been going the cheap insurance route, well...still, give them a call and see what they can do.
 

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None of my driver exams or study materals ever mentioned a 3 second rule. I consider it unlikely that Massachusetts has such a rule in its traffic code. The codes I had to study indicate after a full stop at a sign, one only proceeds if it is appropriate to do so, i.e., safe, no pedestrians to run over, no bicycle riders to knock down and no vehicles to crash into in a negligent manner!
Massachusetts? HAHAHAHAHA. rotfl

On information and belief, Massachusetts also has a rule that whoever gets into the intersection first has the right of way.

Welcome to the kwazy, wacky world of Massachusetts driving.

I don't know anything about the no-fault rules of Mass. insurance. Seriously, get an estimeate and then talk to your insurance agent. In New York, regardless of whose fault it is, it goes on your record but if its not your fault, the record tends to be ignored.

BTW, how is the Lotus dealer in Waltham?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The dealership isn't bad. The don't usually have many Lotus there on the floor though. Their service center isn't bad either. I never had any amazing experiences or any negative experiences there so I suppose that is good.
 

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Been doing auto accidents for awhile now - I've never heard of the 3 second rule.

Call the cop's supervisor. He didn't take a report because he was trying to help his buddy. Point out that they were buddies.

This is why I keep a box camera in the trunk of every car I own (fits perfectly wedged by the Fix-a-flat can).
 

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Some tow truck drivers are the worst, especially if they drive for the town.
You might contact the city attorney and anyone else you can think of he does business with and politely ask about how much of a road hazard he is.
Liability issues like a driver like that should scare everyone when they are exposed.
If he drives for someone else, make sure they know.
And there are newpapers, etc.
They won't print anything, but they will take a look at the guy next time something happens.
Be cautious in your phrasing.
I would mention possible liability issues with someone like that.
Often that is the one thing that gets attention.

Worst case you may save the next guy he runs into.

Three second rule?rotfl
 

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There certainly is a US wide 3 second rule. It applies in every state, including Alaska and Hawaii. But as Alan pointed out, it only applies to food that has hit the floor.

I agree with allowing your insurance company take care of this and with the suggestion to call the supervisor of the cop.

Also suggest that you limit any further information posting about this situation until it is all finished.
 

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Three second rule?rotfl
Its worth an hour or two in a law library. In every state, law about stopping at a red light is in the statute - Vehicle and Traffic Law or whatever its called. There has to be a provision about starting after having stopped, otherwise no one would ever get anywhere.

At a stop sign, you have to come to a full stop, however long that entails. That might be three seconds in Massachusetts (but I doubt it). In some states, there's a provision for, say, three cars. If you're the third car, you don't have to stop twice. The first three cars stop in synch and then can move in synch. Then the next three cars and so on.

I mentioned earlier that the first car in the intersection has the right of way. That is applied in the most ridiculous way on long, single lane roads like the road to Concord. Is that 2A? On the main road, you might go 10 miles between traffic signals, stop signs, etc. There are many side roads, each of which has a stop sign. You'd have continuous traffic on the main road and lots of cars waiting to get on. If one of them sees a break, he zips onto the main road, say, at 20 mph. The next car on the main road might have been doing 55 but he has to stop to make way for the 20 mph interloper.

Where was this accident?

I lived in Massachusetts 8 years, first as a graduate student in mathematics and then as a law student. I went to the Waltham Lotus dealer and sat in a Europa. I wound up buying a Datsun 510. Nice handling.
 

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This is what I've come up with:

M.G.L. - Chapter 89, Section 9

M.G.L. - Chapter 89, Section 8

No 3-second rule in the statute. Nevertheless, "After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right of way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when such driver is moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways. "

See CANANE vs. DANDINI, 355 Mass. 72 CANANE vs. DANDINI, 355 Mass. 72
 

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You should have the right of way regardless of how long he's been at the intersection if you do not have a stop sign on your corner of the intersection. Otherwise, it would mean he has free reign to run into anyone he wants after 3 seconds which would create chaos. I'd definately fight it...

And this is probably a good idea for everyone with a Lotus to run a camera in their cars.
 

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As people have stated let your insurance company handle it. There's nothing you can do, he will bring someone to court "WHO" witnessed the non-accident. You can do a number on the officer though. Just send your e-mail, to his superior (and say you want to file an official complaint), to the local councilman, your state representitive, the county supervisor, the head of the police department and any and all other political representives you can find. I did this once, and the guy got two weeks off without pay, it went on his permanent record, and they never even questioned me beyond my written statement (in a small community, believe it or not). I would add one thing (because he will insist as he did with the officer that he never hit you) Why did you stop, and why did he stop, if there was no accident.
 
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