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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41220
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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I am a Washington State driver that received a Montana Code

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I am a Washington State driver that received a Montana Code 61-8-302(1)[1] Careless Driving. I was involved in a one vehicle motor vehicle accident, which resulted in me being issued the Notice to Appear. It states that PC: Crash, Claimed that vehicle had a brake issue, claimed deer in the roadway, stepped(ends there).
But my statement was that this vehicle, which was a Fire Dept. Emergency Response vehicle has been reported to our Mechanical Repair Shop (MRS) and our Fire Chief to have had braking issues and various other problems, but has been returned back to the department advising that they could not find a problem with the brakes. The vehicle has had a history of upon braking, the brakes lock up or at other times there are close to no brakes. I am not a certified mechanic however the employees at MRS are. I requested two times pryor to my travel date that my Chief select a different vehicle for me to take because of the concerns with the vehicles mechanical malfunctions. I was refused my request.
At the time of the accident I saw a deer crossing the road approximately 100-75 feet in front of me, I was traveling at the posted speed limit of 60 MPH. I attempted to apply the brakes to slow the vehicle to allow safe passage of the deer, when the vehicles braking system locked up causing the vehicle to come to a sudden stop at highway speeds, which also caused the vehicle upon the sudden stop to lurch forward twice and upon the second impact cause the vehicle to enter into a rollover.
The State Trooper stated that I claim this is what happened however this is not how ABS brakes operate and what I probably did was panick and did not release the brakes and that if I had released the brakes the ABS would have reset itself or I jerked the wheel. He also stated that I claim there was a deer, however he did not see one. I advised that I didn't state that I hit the deer only that I saw it crossing down the road not that it jumped out in front of me.
I live in a rural area that has heavy deer traffic on the roadways and therefore know how to anticipate the hazard of deer crossing the roadway. In addition I have been operating Fire and EMS apparatus for 20 plus years in this area in adverse weather and driving conditions with no accidents. I feel that if it had not been for the faulty braking system this accident would not have happened. I am current on my Emergency Vehicle Accident Prevention training.
Can the information concerning the vehicles is this a defensible stand and since I am not a certified mechanic how can I be held responsible for a condition that a certified mechanic have previously stated doesn't exsist?

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

To answer your question directly, generally information pertaining to past history of the vehicle is NOT admissible unless relevant. Here, if the vehicle had past history, then by driving it the state can claim that you 'assumed the risk' of potential damages if you still ended up operating it. What may most definitely help here are two specific actions:

1. If you can demand and request that your company release past records of brake complaints, bring them with you as evidence of issues.

2. Likewise, consider bringing an 'expert', specifically a mechanic, with you to court and discuss the past issues.

Typically judges would give you some deference especially since this was a commercial vehicle, and an emergency vehicle at that--hence if you give a judge a good enough reason, he may justify dropping the suit.

Hope that helps.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your reply, it is helpful. I very much doubt that I can bring the Expert Witness to Montana with me for court. We are both Federal employees and even with the facts of the Chief not granting my request to furnish another vehicle management has already taken the position that I am responsible.

Is a signed statement advising the vehicles mechancial history admissible. The Fire Dept perfroms regular vehicle checks which are logged and Work Order numbers are created for repars by vehicle identification.

I additionally have a signed statement from another employee who overheard me request to take another vehicle and the Chiefs inapproprite reponse. Which may as you stated cause further damage as I knew the vehicle had malfunctions and still drove it, but when your options are limited to what the Chief directs.

Thank you for your follow-up.

You are most welcome, truly. This is just not a very easy situation. Your other argument may be a bit esoteric. You can claim 'respondiat superior' which is a legal term stating that your boss by sending you out for the work, is personally liable for all of your claims. This is a last ditch effort which hopefully you would not need to work if you can bring evidence of past history and explain that as a subordinate you had no choice but to operate the vehicle when your boss told you to do so.

Hope that helps.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It does help, as like you said "A last Ditch Effort". I hope to not have to pull that card. I at this time have not advised management of the signed statement, and you are correct in this not being an easy situation. There is a lot more at stake than just my clean driving record and insurance rating, I am to attend an At Fault Hearing in two days that will determine if I am to receive disciplinary action for the vehicle accident, which will affect my employement. I have not formally informed management of the conversation with the Chief and his reply to me, just the facts that the vehicle has been reported to MRS and the Chief to have had malfunctions.

These items will be considered depending on the outcome of the At Fault Hearing. I was informed by the Deputy Manager when I requested assistance for dealing with the state of Montana that I was responsible to deal with them as if I was driving a POV. But not formally in the At Fault, but does give me insight on managements perspective.

Our discussion gives me food for thought as if I was not already thinking of my overall defense for the unfortunate circumstance I find myself in. I do thank you and may recontact you should I have any further questions. Thank you for your professionalism.

Thank you for your follow-up.

Management will always attempt to deflect, even when it may be hard to do so. Glad to provide you with some options, and you are most welcome. Should you need me again, please feel free to request me by name. Good luck and good night to you!

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