A Responsible Dilemma

I have a real conundrum and  I’m not sure what to do.  I genuinely and honestly have no idea if I am responsible for the wreck I was in this weekend.   The details are below.  I’m prepared to admit up front that I was on my phone.  But that’s not a crime in NC, sorry haters.  And it doesn’t automatically mean I was at fault in this wreck.  In fact my passenger has repeatedly insisted I was not at fault.

I was coming down South Salisbury Street talking to Amy.  I caught the red light one block away from the intersection of W. Edenton and S. Salisbury where the wreck occurred.  I left the light when the signal turned green and was traveling towards Edenton.  From my point of view, perspective, whatever, I began crossing Edenton and the next thing I know I was popped real hard in my door by a blue mini-van.  Amy heard the whole thing on the phone.  The truck got spun around in the intersection, hitting another parked car during the slide.  I was stunned and then said to Amy, “I was just in a really bad wreck”.

As I was trying to free my leg from being wedged between the steering wheel and door I look out my window and a woman is screaming “Your still on the phone!  I have my kids in the car and your still on the phone!”  So I naturally assumed, oh damn, I just ran a red light because I was on the phone.  I appologized to the hystarical women several times as I finally got out of my twisted truck.  My ribs were hurting real bad but I didn’t pay attention to them at the time.

At some point I know I said “I must have run the red light” and the driver of the mini-van said “well, at least you’re willing to admit it”.  My passenger was still telling me I didn’t run the red light.  So there we were, me and the mini-van family waiting for the police.  The husband went on about how people get tickets for talking on cell phones while driving in England.  What I wanted to know is: did I run the red light?  I really did not know, still don’t.

I was about to tell the police I might not have run the red light but an unidentified witness on the street said I did.  That was actually very reassuring at the time because I wasn’t certain.  But then I thought about it.  There is absolutely no way that witness would have been able to see the color of the lights on Edenton and Salisbury from where she was standing on S. Salisbury St.  No way at all.  They are both one way streets and no lights face in the direction of where she was standing on Salisbury.  The woman was simply drawn to sympathizing with the mini-van family.  That’s all.  You can’t tell me with the spectacular wreck that was unfolding in front of her she ran up the road far enough to make a conscious effort to identify the color of the lights, before they had time to change.

My guilt of being on the phone at the time of the wreck and the fact that I was hit by a family with kids in tow blinded my judgement as to whether or not I actually ran the light.  Or did the mini-van driver?  One thing that concerned me is the statement the other driver gave to the officer when asked how fast he was going.  He stated “20 maybe 30 miles an hour, we don’t know because we were trying to find our turn”.  So he was trying to navigate his way through downtown.  Did he know what color his light was?

The officers immediate response to his comment was “So help me get my head around this.  You were going 20-30 mph and managed to spin a Dodge Dakota 180 degrees in the intersection at impact?”  Clearly the officer couldn’t add up the physics based on the other drivers statement.

So based upon my reassurance of an eye witness, who could not have seen the lights, I accepted responsibility for running a red light I may not have run.  My passenger insists that I didn’t and his statement to the police was that the mini-van “hit us like a missile”.  I know that part is true.  Although cited, I have not plead guilty to running the red light and I’m not personally certain I did.  At this point I’m taking the word of a unreliable witness, who’s not listed on any police report, and the “victims”.  So now I’m not sure what to do.  Do I plead guilty without knowing if I am?  Or do I plead not guilty and force someone to prove it to me and the court?

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Grandma Johnson
14 years ago


I hope you were not badly hurt. You didn’t do anything wrong; however, with everybody pointing an accusing finger at you, you did the compassionate and gentlemanly thing by
admitting you “could have” run a red light. An accident at a traffic signal is the hardest thing to decide that an officer has to do at an accident scene. I am sure you have talked to your insurance company and perhaps they could with hold payment of any claims against you until the accident is investigated by them. That might not be possible – but I hope so. Since you were cited, that’s usually the bottom line – but since you have a witness saying you did not run a red light – that should have some bearing. Just because someone is cited, does not have to mean that person was “at fault” It should have had some bearing with the investigaating officer – but apparently it didn’t. As for fighting the citation itself – if your insurance company accepts that you were “at fault”, then fighting the citation is probably pointless. Since I was an insurance agent for 25 years, this is just my view point from past experince when trying to help an insured under the same circumstances.

As for me – I don’t think you were at fault.

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