Dear PoP: I T-boned a Cop Car

Mustang rain
Photo by PoPville Flickr user Tyrannous

“Dear PoP,

I T-boned a cop car last week. Let me explain:

Wednesday night I made a run to the Whole Foods on P St. to grab a few last-minute Thanksgiving necessities. On my way home I made a left from P St. onto 14th and within five seconds of heading north on 14th I saw something flash in front of me and next thing you know I basically t-bone a gold sedan that was (without signaling) attempting to make an illegal U-turn from the right lane on northbound 14th, all the way over to the southbound lanes.

So I’m steaming and the offending car pulls over on the opposite side of the street and a full-uniformed police officer gets out of the car. Yup, I just t-boned an unmarked cop car. Great. It turns out the cop was very cool about the whole thing — immediately apologetic, said he felt terrible about the whole thing, etc. Because the accident involved a cop car, they had to bring in crime scene investigators, the offending officer’s boss, that guy’s boss, and a bunch of other people.

After the long weekend I finally got to work on this situation with my insurance company and they are painting a bleak picture for me. First, I’m going to have to scrape together the cash for my deductible even though the accident was not my fault (this is likely due to the phrase “Official Investigation Pending” on the police report). Then, I won’t get reimbursed for that money until my insurance people get the money from the DC government — and I’m told that the bureaucracy here will be “brutal”. I’ve already emailed the officer who wrote the police report asking to amend it because of some major inaccuracies on the report vs. what really happened.

Needless to say I’m not looking forward to all of this. Here’s my question — have any of your readers ever been through anything remotely resembling this? How screwed up is this process going to prove to be? Is there anything I can do to make this easier?”

Man, that is rough. What do you guys recommend besides suggesting the reader get his/her Council Member involved?

36 Comment

  • My wife messed up and changed lanes as an offduty lt mpdc was passing on the left and they clipped mirrors, right dang in front of the Lincoln Memorial (pretty narrow there). The LT refused to settle and insurance took care of it painlessly. Lt likely was going greater than 25 mph but my wife changed lanes in a way that caused collision, so what is one to do but move on. At least no one was hurt in either case!!! vroom vroom

    I’ve got to say, I am still amazed at the number of drivers texting and talking on cell phones while driving in the District (have folks notice fewer police driving while talking?), as if traffic flows that well without distractions…..

  • Idea on how people can avoid this in the future…


  • all the crime onfo. on the site and chatter about the sec.8 residents ..being the root cause, and lo and behold cohiresident’s avatar is shooting off a big fat gun. children please……….

  • I hit an unmarked county PD car around here that had stopped short…everything was very similar to what you describe. Not their fault, but not really mine, either. Even though the incident was (seemingly) minor, they first tried to charge me with reckless driving. County’s attorney even laughed at that and I got away with a minor ticket. But then the insurance…very shady. They tried to get my insurance company to pay for everything, plus workman’s comp for like three months even though we were going about 3 mph at the time of the fender-bender. My insurance company refused to pay and they backed off. I got the impression from them that goverments can take advantage of folks because they know they aren’t likely to have the balls to do anything when confronted with stretched facts (like an exaggerated accident report). A good insurance company will know better.

  • Reminds me of the Modest mouse song “float on”

    I backed my car into a cop car, the other day.
    Well he just drove off, sometimes life’s ok.
    I ran my mouth off a bit too much, oh what did I say.
    Well you just laughed it off, it was all ok.

    And we’ll all float on, ok.
    And we’ll all float on, ok.
    And we’ll all float on, ok.
    And we’ll all float on any way, well.

  • The reader should just be lucky the cop didn’t follow him home and shoot his dog. Or shoot him and then get a commendation from the MPD for bravery.

  • A bit of hopeful news: When I had a situation where I had to wait for my insurance company to collect from the DC gov’t before they’d reimburse me, I thought it was hopeless, but in fact they settled with DC and reimbursed me within a month. Whatever the other complications, it does seem like the insurance companies are experienced at navigating the bureaucracy.

  • I had an accident with a cop car on NY ave years back. Cop didn’t see me turning (traffic in the passing lane blocked our views) into a car wash when he slammed on his brakes and skidded over 50 feet on his motorcycle into the front side of my car when NY Ave is 25mph. I took pics of the skid and had witnesses. Cop apologized, but like your situation other officers wrote up the scene details. My insurance (USAA) called and said police look after eachother and they expect I’ll pay. I paid my deductable.

  • My recommendation – became a PITA and go for everything. If the accident was clearly not your fault, start complaining about aches and pains that weren’t there before. If the accident wasn’t your fault, then you should not have to pay a cent. Then, you may want to consider getting a lawyer to look at the case. Sometimes, lawyers will represent you at no cost if you’re looking for a settlement (and they would get a portion of that settlement).

    And you have my sympathy because there is NO WAY I would want to deal with the MPD on a matter like this.

  • I’m with Ward4Resident on getting counsel (not necessarily on faking injuries). Surprised it took this many comments to suggest getting a lawyer. I’d also be interested to hear what these “major inaccuracies on the report” entail. I used to live in Cincinnati and had to deal with a cop falsifying a report once to cover another cop’s ass. And I’m sure if there’s a universal truth when it comes to cops, it’s that they’ll try to help each other avoid blame for anything and everything. If they’re trying to absolve him in any way or trying to assign you any blame, stop emailing them and PoP and call a lawyer right now.

  • When I was a teenager, I nearly got run down by an unmarked police car while riding my bicycle down the street. I was riding along the side of the road, in the same direction as the traffic – in other words, legally – and he blew through a stop sign from a side street. Didn’t even slow down.

    Luckily he stopped just in time to avoid running me down, but when he saw me give him the F-bomb (I was nearly killed. I thought it was appropriate), he slapped one of those magnetic flashing lights on his roof and pulled me over. Then another cop showed up.

    They harrassed me and threatened to take me to jail for riding in the street. They said I should’ve been on the sidewalk, which is illegal of course. F-ers.

    I totally respect police and the job they do, but sometimes they (some) act like total a-holes with guns and badges, just because they can. Those ones are just bullies, thugs, armed.

  • PoP:

    Can you ban the Puma ads in the comments? They’re in every story.

  • Hey, call your city Council member’s office and at least put it on their radar. They may even advocate for you if they see it as an injustice. good luck!

  • @ TaylorStreetMan.

    I had a remarkably similar experience on my bike late at night on the way home from work by the Park Rd police station in Columbia Heights. A cop van pulled an illegal U-turn with no signal or lights and almost hit me. I called him an “asshole.” He followed me down the street and pulled me over. He said, “DID YOU JUST CALL ME AN ASSHOLE?!?” To which I responded, “No, but if I did, it was because you almost hit me when you did the U-turn.”

    “Next time you call someone an asshole, make sure it’s not an officer of the law.”

  • “CoHiResident Said:

    Idea on how people can avoid this in the future…


    Sweet way to turn a 30 minute round trip to the grocery store into a two hour ordeal the night before thanksgiving.

  • On my 16th birthday, mere blocks away from the DMV where I collected my first driver’s license only minutes before, I was involved in an accident with a cop. He hit me from behind as I was making a left turn on a hill. His fault entirely. True story.

  • Oh wow that’s terrible… The only recommendation I could give is to keep in close touch with your insurance company, try to speak to the same person everytime, and keep your story straight. I’ve gone through enough insurance battles since I turned 16, and even when it wasn’t my fault at all, if I changed even the smallest detail they were suspicious.

    Good luck with all this :/

  • I’m very interested in the supposed mistakes in the report? Do they shift the blame to you, or in any way exonerate the officer? I wouldn’t be surprised to see the cops cover their asses on this one. I had a similar experience in Ohio once. It’s almost impossible to get a police report changed under those circumstances. Cops are really good at sticking to their stories. If they’re trying to blame you in the report, get off PoP, stop emailing the cops, and call a lawyer.

  • Am I the only one unfamiliar with the phrase “T boned”?

  • @Melissa – if you t-bone a car it means that you’ve hit them at a perpendicular near the middle of their car… Your car is straight, and their car is at a 90 degree angle, essentially forming the letter “T”. At least that has always been my impression of what t-boned means… If I’m wrong please correct me!

  • My limited experience with cops has taught me that cops LIE. Shamelessly. This past weekend, a cop actually attempted to arrest me for not having a registration sticker (proof of registration was in the car). Handcuffs and all. I remained calm and reasoned with him that the information he needed was in the car, if he cared to take a look at it. That helped. And he eventually let me off with a “warning”. But that doesn’t erase the 30 minutes of stress and humiliation standing by the side of the road in handcuffs like a common criminal. I’m still pissed off…althought my friends reasoned to me that it’s the end of the month and quotas have to be met etc. etc.

  • DC is a No Fault state; your insurance pays for your repairs and the other driver’s insurance pays for their repairs, regardless of who’s at fault.

    You didn’t expect to pay your deductible? That’s how insurance works…you pay a deductible and they pay the rest.

    In the early 2000’s I was rear ended by a drunk off duty cop in NY state. I had witnesses who said they followed him from the bar. The cops came to the scene and refused to do a sobriety test. Their report stated he fell asleep at the wheel and no charges were filed. In the end, the county paid for all my repairs and I was reimbursed for my deductible.

  • Seen that picture before. Love it.

  • Pop,

    I was walking down 14th when this happened, interesting to see the story surface here. Though at the time I didn’t know the car that was hit was a cop car. At the time I felt bad for the person who submitted the story because it looked as if it wasn’t their fault and it turns out I was right. (it was also interesting how quickly other cops were on the scene because it looked like they were en route somewhere) Anyway, not a fun way to start Thanksgiving, hopefully the insurance company and DC can resolve it quickly.

  • I wish the reader luck, and echo the advice put forth by PoP and others: contact your council member, and get a lawyer. I wouldn’t go hunting for a settlement lawyer, though, I’d ask friends or look one up on one of those consumer ratings sites (like consumer checkbook). You want someone who is going to make sure your protected and charge a reasonable rate, not someone who’s going to try and get you a $10M settlement.

    I’d also like to highlight the fact that U-turns are ILLEGAL in DC, and while I’m sympathetic to someone who carefully executes a U-turn on a neighborhood street, it’s usually not much harder to just drive around the block or find the next alley or driveway. As a motorcycle rider who’s been hit by someone doing a U-turn from a parking spot on the P Street bridge, I can understand why it’s against the law.

  • I hope there are some police officers reading this blog and realize that some of their Brothers (and Sisters) in Blue routinely abuse their authority: Everything from chatting on cell phones while driving, to flashing their lights just to go through a red light and pull into a 7-11 (I’ve witnessed this many times), to parking illegally (hey, it’s illegal because it causes a public safety hazard in crosswalks, on corners, next to fire hydrants, etc. So why is it OK for cops?)

    As Earl Hickey has taught me: Karma is a bitch!

  • Are you black? No? Then this city will never come close to cooperating, let alone actually acknowledge fault or remunerate you. Get a lawyer.

    Yes? Call the Washington Post and have them run a front page, 300 word story + photo essay on the accident and how MPD is racist.

  • It’s not against the law. From the DC Driver’s Manual (

    You can not make a U-turn on a curve or a hill where the vehicle cannot be seen at least 500 feet away by the driver of another vehicle proceeding in either direction. U-turns are prohibited in the District of Columbia at intersections controlled by traffic lights or police officer, or on a crosswalk adjacent to such an intersection.

  • The poster needs to get a lawyer, who will salivate at the chance for a payday from MPD.

    Eric B: I think mid-block u-turns in DC are legal. I do them all the time in front of a police station, which doesn’t mean squat of course but I am sure they are legal. Any idea what / where the law is on this?

  • Sorry, dude, but you’re out of luck. Last year, this same exact thing happened to me. I t-boned a Uniformed Secret Service cruiser in an intersection in NW. I had the green light; he was not using lights or siren and blew through his red light responding to a call. My car was totaled. We were both ok but my hands were busted up, and he was cool and used his first aid kit to stop the bleeding.

    At the time, I had no idea this was the secret service; I was too distracted and flustered and assumed it was MPD, and didn’t know until I got the accident report who I’d actually collided with. Neither one of us were issued a ticket, and I was not found at fault by the police investigation.

    My insurance covered my car, minus the deductible. I was told that the claim was in subrogation and I would be refunded the deductible if that was ever resolved. It’s been almost two years, and I don’t ever expect to get ever see that money.

    I did speak with a lawyer at the time, and considering I had no money to pay for a lawsuit, it wasn’t worth pursuing. However, the biggest problem that came out of this was with my insurance. Because the insurance company had to place fault on someone, it fell on me. I was told that when the claim was finally closed and the insurance company received money, I would be cleared of all responsibility. In the meantime, I’m paying for it.

    I’m really sorry this happened to you! It sucks, but at least you’re ok. No injury is ever worth a big settlement.


  • As Angela K mentioned, insurance companies have attorneys on staff (or contracted) to handle legal disputes. It is a process called subrogation.

    You might want to check with your insurance company before you go out and hire your own attorney. Otherwise you could end up paying legal fees yourself for something the insurance company would have paid anyway.

  • Just a thought on the lawyer, while lawyers may not want to take on the Unitarded Secret Service, many love to take on MPD as its a revolving door of cash payouts, especially with Nickle’s involved. Check out Gregory Lattimer, the Rawlings family lawyer, though your case might be too small time for him.

  • @Pennywise, Don: Sorry, I meant U-turning from a parking spot. As for general, mid-block U-turners, I would actually prefer if people could try to do that when no one is right behind you? It’s a little disconcerting when the car traveling in front of you veers right, like they’re grabbing a parking spot, then chops the wheel to the left to spin around in front of you. People seem to think that U-turns are best executed as fast as possible, when actually the opposite is true.

    Thanks for looking up the law!

  • Good luck – about a year ago I was hit head on by a city garbage truck that was driving the wrong way down the wrong side of the road. A cop showed up and was super nice, but gave us both minor moving violation citations and told me I could and in fact should contest it, but that he couldn’t just give one party a citation. I doubt this makes any sense or resembles any truth but at the time I was a little distracted because I had just been HIT HEAD ON BY A GARBAGE TRUCK THAT WAS DRIVING DOWN THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD. I had a hearing and was told I had no case. Which is funny… in retrospect. Anyway, you’ll notice that the trucks no longer drive down the wrong side of the road to be closer to the trash to make their route easier. They have to circle a whole half block to be able to drive WITH the traffic to collect trash now. I like to think I’ve made a difference.

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