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Just got an accident... what now ?(23 posts)

Just got an accident... what now ?PeterRider
Oct 31, 2001 12:24 AM
Hi,

I just got an accident.
It was 11pm, I was crossing a street on my bike at a crosswalk. Green light for pedestrians, green light for cars, a car turns and the guy didn't see me. I was lucky enough that he got only the back of my bike and not me. So I just fell and lost balance.

Damage : on me, none (cool)
on the bike : rear wheel is obviously dead, my roommate says the frame is bent, I am not really convinced. The other damage seems more minor, like on the shifters, the derailleurs.

The guy was very correct, left me address, phone, driving license number, insurance company and number (COAIT national, we are close to LA).

So my question is : what should I do, ask for ? He said he would talk to his insurance, or pay for the damage. How does it usually work ? I just took pictures of the bike. It is my first bike accident so I know nothing about that.

A big bad point on me, I didn't have a front light, I had only reflectors on the pedals and a rear light. But on the other side, I was crossing a street at a green light for pedestrians, and on the crosswalk.

Thanks for your opinions and ideas,

Pierre
re: Just got an accident... what now ?MJ
Oct 31, 2001 1:47 AM
report it to the Police so there can be an 'investigation' - then contact the guy and find out what his insurance company has said - in the meantime - take your bike to a good LBS and get a damage/repair estimate

you need to ask yourself after the damage estimate what exactly you want out of this - how will you feel that this has been settled and see if him/his insurance company is putting that (or close to that) on the table.

good luck
re: Just got an accident... what now ?marlies
Oct 31, 2001 1:55 AM
Hey Pierre,
A few months ago I had an accident too. In this case it was also a bit his fault, he didn't see me, same as in your case, but also bit mine. It turned out my bike was damaged, his car had nothing. My derrailleur was bend, my backpath also, and one of my brake-handles. The men was friendly, gave me his number, and promised to pay for the damage. I went to the bikeshop, got my bike repaired (turned out to be more then 500 guilders, 250 dollars) and went to the guy. And he payed. He made absolutely no problem of it. (although he hadn't expected such an amount) (he payed it himself, not the insurance, he didn't ask them)
But if you want the insurance to pay, keep every receipt you get for repairing your bike, it is ofcourse the evidence for the amount.
ok. this is what I had to say about it, only one problem, I am from the Netherlands, and I'm pretty sure it works different in the States!
Good luck,
Marlies
It's over man! it's all over...Leisure
Oct 31, 2001 3:39 AM
First off, don't beat yourself up with excessive guilt and responsibility. You almost sound like you're still in shock. You're hopefully as undamaged as you say and the guy seems to be willing to pay for whatever's busted; I wish more driver's had such good sense. Just figure out what needs to be replaced without taking unfair advantage of the guy. Go find a quality LBS to help you figure all this (today). Explain the whole thing, have them take a close look at your frame, spot-check anything else that might need replacement, and get a written estimate (approximate dollar value). They're happy to do this as they stand to make money when you come back. Hopefully the figure is reasonable and the guy pays it. Recognize that most individuals are more willing to pay (even against ugly figures) if s/he sees that you've taken the effort to be reasonable, so like I say don't try to take unfair advantage. You're not going to do this anyway though, so don't worry about it. Count your blessings and buy a light.
Things might get complicated if he says no, because you'll have to call the police and ask what the appropriate legal recourse is. This is taking a risk with your psyche because some officers might try to give you a guilt trip for anything they can, in this case the light. The "guilt-component" of this you should largely ignore as 1) you seem to be feeling enough guilt on your own anyway and 2) they are primarily giving you guilt trips because they are too lazy to want to do their jobs and are willing to fight with you over it. Kind of ironic. I'm not saying this will (or is even likely to) happen, just be able to recognize it for what it is so you don't internalize. Some officers I've dealt with are actually very helpful. You may even want to call and ask today both FYI and to allay feeling more nervous about it if legal recourse is what it comes to.
What you should listen to is what is legally correct. I suspect it will go in your favor regardless of whether or not you have a light. They don't require pedestrians to wear lights, yet cars are still responsible to see them, even when they're jaywalking. Good luck.
File an accident report and then why not just try to settle up?zelig1
Oct 31, 2001 4:45 AM
First off, I'd file an accident report at the police station immediately just to have a record which you will need in the event of an insurance claim or legal action. You're not pressing charges, just filing a report and it's no big deal.

After that, why not just call the guy, once you have figured out your costs, and try to settle up without getting the Police and insurance companies involved. It may be the most cost efficient way for both parties.

It's not clear but based on what you wrote, "crossing a street on my bike", it sounds like you were riding in the crosswalk. I don't know about California but in some States/Countries, that's a no, no, you're not considered a pedestrian and he can claim you should not have been there to begin with and so begins the chicken and egg arguments. Obviously, if he doesn't want to settle, you should pursue your other alternatives if they're cost effective. If you need to resort to a legal claim, you may want to look at small claims court where you generally can avoid the need to hire an attorney.
Top TipThe Judge
Oct 31, 2001 5:59 AM
Take the time now to write down EXACTLY what happened. It's amazing what you forget/mis-remember after even a short period of time. And the detail can be crucial if it gets legal.
Other tipshms
Oct 31, 2001 6:19 AM
Take good photos of the damage before you do any repairs. Save any damaged parts that are replaced.
Actually, it was your fault......TrekRider
Oct 31, 2001 6:34 AM
Riding in a crosswalk (hint: the operative part of the word is "walk")...that should be the part that strikes you. You were riding in a place that you should have been walking...or if you were riding, you should have been riding with traffic, not on the sidewalk.

If your state is like others, and it is, the bike is classified as a vehicle like cars, motorcycles, trucks, etc. As such, you are required to follow all the traffic laws and that includes NOT riding on sidewalks, crosswalks, etc. This essentially puts you in the wrong in this situation......be glad you didn't call the police. At worst, you would have been ticketed.

I say this because I had a similar accident except I was walking my bike and pushing it across the crosswalk. The cop who took care of the accident (18 yo college freshman in a hurry to make a right-on-red to beat oncoming traffic "didn't notice" me and my yellow jacket and white bike in the crosswalk.)

Cop says if I had been riding instead of walking my bike, I'd have been wrong and could have been held liable for damage to the car.

I'd quietly disappear from this.....the driver's insurance company is not going to pay once they find out the particulars of the wreck.....sorry.
TrekRider may be right, but I wouldn't necessarily trust a copbill
Oct 31, 2001 6:59 AM
to know what is the law -- cops are frequently wrong about the rights/responsibilities of cyclists. It just doesn't come up that often for them. I'd check it out myself before I gave up on $500 worth of damage.
Wow, tough state......Roadrage
Oct 31, 2001 7:30 AM
Here in Michigan if you're on the sidewalk you're considered a ped and if you're in the street you're considered a vehicle. I somehow have a hard time picturing my 4 year old neighbor riding his bike with training wheels in the street or the lost soul bumming cig and beer money trying to keep it straight in traffic.
I mostly agreemr_spin
Oct 31, 2001 8:41 AM
First off, no one deserves to get hit because a driver didn't notice them.

But riding at 11pm and no front light? That combination is a bad idea, and everybody knows it. Drivers can't avoid what they can't see, and no one (not even you, I'll bet) expects someone to be riding a bike at that hour. As a result, the driver will pass the "what is reasonable" test and be held only partially responsible at best. You'll be lucky to collect anything.

Chalk it up to experience, fix your bike, and buy a light! If riding at 11pm is going to be a habit, buy some reflective tape to put on your bars and fork and frame, and some reflective clothing helps too.
Actually, it was your fault......gmagee
Oct 31, 2001 9:44 AM
In California it is only illegal to ride on the sidewalk "with willful disregard for pedestrian safety".

You gotta love black and white laws nothing gray here.
Sorry, gotta agreejtolleson
Oct 31, 2001 3:10 PM
The minute you said crosswalk, I thought, "uh oh."

It all goes back to claiming our lanes. If you had been riding in the traffic lane directly in front of him, I'm assuming that this wouldn't have happened. I think that the fear that keeps cyclists from claiming their lane actually leads to more accidents where cars are involved.

Sorry. Hope he'll take care of you, because in a legal dogfight I'm wondering if you can really win.
I think that you guys are way overselling the cyclist's fault.bill
Nov 1, 2001 7:19 AM
I'm not at all sure that the cyclist is prohibited from being in the crosswalk. In Virginia, as I noted below, the cyclist by statute is not only permitted to cross in the crosswalk, but, while in the crosswalk, the cyclist has the same rights as a pedestrian. I wonder myself whether that would apply if you were riding the bike instead of walking it, but, if you were walking your bike, wouldn't you just be a pedestrian? Why have a statute granting the cyclist the same rights as a pedestrian if it didn't mean while riding?
Even if the law is silent as to whether the cyclist should be in the crosswalk, that doesn't give a car a license to mow you down. The car has an obligation to look before turning. Suppose he was a pedestrian? What really is the difference (if he were passing on the right at 20 mph, I might change my mind, but suppose he was sort of carefully proceeding at a running pace -- not at all improbable).
In any case, at worst you would have a case of comparative fault, which is the law in most places but Virginia (and D.C., and Maryland).
I agreeDog
Nov 1, 2001 7:31 AM
Unless the cyclist is prohibited from riding in the cross walk, I doubt it would even be material, much less defeating or cause for comparative fault.

I do have a concern about not having a front light, though, but then it matter which direction the driver approached from.

Where is the lack of due care by the cyclist? Isn't that the issue? I don't see any; seems like he was trying to be careful. I'm not familiar with any principles that require one to take more risk (e.g., take the lane) to avoid liability.

Doug
But was he WALKING?jtolleson
Nov 1, 2001 8:21 AM
Here in Colorado, that's the only way you should have your bike in the xwalk.
Well, you always should check your local listings. But,bill
Nov 1, 2001 8:53 AM
Dog is right; reasonable behavior to protect your own safety is the only genuine issue. It is hard, but not always impossible, to overcome laws or ordinances contrary to your actions.
Of course, we're talking about property damage of maybe in the hundreds of dollars. Not worth WW III for either the insurer or the cyclist. Does this mean that the guy will get paid? Absolutely not. Probably the opposite. As I have noted elsewhere, in my experience, the insurers generally take the legal BS a lot further than people do, except when it suits them not to, or except when you remain either on the adjustor's good side or anonymous enough to warrant benign neglect.
In the interests of fairness and full disclosure, I like most adjustors. Most adjustors seem to want to do right and are far more interested in doing right than are their supervisors and companies as a whole. If you can avoid the notice of supervisors and managers, you are FAR better off.
People think that insurance companies are in the business of adjusting risk and settling claims. Wrongo. They are in the financial business. They buy and sell equities, and they are branching out into other financial products and services. The premium collection thing is just a way to accumulate dough for these other endeavors. As Dog noted, most everything they do is colored (eventually) by their overall financial status. You have no way of knowing this in advance, accounting for the oddest of results. I've had good cases I couldn't resolve, and lousy cases that resolved beyond my expectations quickly and easily. Who knows why?
BINGO!!!! NMCT1
Oct 31, 2001 8:08 PM
Most times the police won't get involved if the propertybill
Oct 31, 2001 6:55 AM
damage is less than a certain amount (varies by jurisdiction) and there was no personal injury. There is probably little harm in calling the police; at least you can say that you tried if it ever comes up. You probably shouldn't expect much, though, and you certainly shouldn't expect any help in making a claim for the civil damages (your busted up bike or personal injury). That's not what they do.
The biggest problem with dealing with the guy directly is that, often enough, the guy's remorse and good intentions evaporate after he's talked to his golf buddies about what happened. His agreement to pay is worth the paper it's written on. He may pay, but he may not.
The biggest problem with dealing with the insurance company is that they have NO remorse. They will analyze much more closely whether the claim should be paid. You may need to visit the library to check on local ordnances to figure out whether you were arguably in the wrong by not having lights, by being in the crosswalk at all (btw, in Virginia bikes can be in crosswalks, and when they are, they have the rights of pedestrians).
Bottom line: if your bike was damaged to the tune of less than the guy's deductible, his insurance isn't going to pay it anyway, and he may be happy not to have the claim registered with his company at all, so you're probably better off just getting the payment from him. You could always claim against the insurance company later (within the statute of limitations for property damage, which is usually years). I also would try to document and confirm any expressions of culpability from the driver ("I'm sorry" is good, but it ain't the same as "It was my fault"), which may persuade the insurance company if need be. Don't expect to get a lawyer involved for a low dollar claim. It's not worth it for him/her or you (unless it's your brother-in-law, in which case, soak him; happens to me all the time).
Photographs are good. Contemporaneous narrative is good.
I'll get grief for being a slimy lawyer for this next, but it's true. If you really are physically fine, that's great, and I never would encourage anyone to find injury where there isn't any (believe me, it's usually the other way around, where I'm asking the client, "WHAT hurts? Are you kidding me? Who's going to believe that?"). As suspicious as this makes everyone, however, it is not at all uncommon for the physical effects of a trauma to take a day or so to come out (a tough ride feels worse a day or so later, doesn't it?). Before you go around teling everyone you're fine, you may want to let things develop a little. Don't say you're hurt when you're not, but don't paint yourself into a corner, either.
deductiblefiltersweep
Oct 31, 2001 3:07 PM
no- there is NO deductible for repairing anyone else's vehicle, property, or injuries- only your own vehicle if you are at fault or it is a hit and run, etc....

most insurance companies have a threshhold of $400 of payment before they list the accident as an accident on the responsible parties record- so if your repairs come to under $400, the driver will owe no money at all, and his rates won't go up

I wouldn't worry to much about insurance companies being the "bad guy" here- the cost to repair the bike is tiny compared to a personal injury, and it should be a simple claim. If you claimed you couldn't work because of a back injury, it might be a different story. This is hardly worth a company hassling you.

police reports are great when you get them, but many municipalities ONLY do reports if there are INJURIES, which in this case (fortunately) there were none- so the fact that there is none should not be an issue here

good luck- I know there are all sorts of horror stories and myths about insurance, but its not as bad as some people make it sound
I've been dealing with insurance companies for fifteen years,bill
Nov 1, 2001 7:10 AM
both for 'em and ag'in 'em, and I can assure you that there are no myths, only horror stories. Well, that's not entirely true. There was a claim once that was quickly and fairly resolved, but I think that they just had made a mistake there.
Insurance companies pick on whomever they're mad at or sometimes just because. If you get lucky enough to cruise in under the radar (which, despite everything I've said, is not impossible; most insurance adjustors mostly want to move files, increasing your chances), you can get a fair shake, that much is true. BUT, companies generally DON'T pay to make you go away. That is one myth that I'd like to stop right here. THEY DON'T, THEY WON'T. They may tell you that's what they're doing, but they pay only when they see exposure. If they don't see exposure, they have lawyers who routinely take them out for beers and nachos that they happily pay to put you through your paces. Insurance companies routinely try cases over ridiculous issues and ridiculously small amounts of money, and juries are brainwashed enough to make it stick enough of the time that the insurance companies are emboldened to try it again. The idea that it is greedy plaintiffs clogging the courtrooms is so entirely and profoundly wrong that I get physically ill whenever I hear it stated as a fact.
You are right about the deductible. My bad.
Don't know anything about what level of damage makes it into the underwriting profile. I would think, though, that the level would matter according to either internal company policy or statewide insurance regulations. I kind of doubt that there is a national standard.
variablesDog
Nov 1, 2001 7:40 AM
Insurance companies, adjusters, claims managers, and their attornies, are variable depending upon who it is, what time it is, how the claim is presented, etc. I don't think one description fits all.

For example, if Company A hasn't paid many claims the last few years, and their premium to claim ratio has become very high (too much money in the bank), they may very well get an order for above to start paying out some money. Occasionally, with the right timing, claimants benefit from that. Weird, but it happens.

Happens on a more individual basis, too. Adjuster B may have just denied 200 claims in a row. Someone talks to him and says this doesn't look good. If you are next up, yours gets paid.

If you appear honest and the claim appears legit, more likely to get paid.

I'm not saying insurance companies are charitable organizations, but many times claims do get paid timely and reasonably. If you are honest and accurate in presenting the claim, and there is a basis for liability, my bet is that it will get paid.

Doug
My take on it,vanzutas
Oct 31, 2001 7:34 AM
First of all I have been hit before. But mine was the whole rescue squad/emergency room thing so you can bet the police and insurance companies were involved.

The way I look at it you should not have been in the crosswalk on your bike. this is a big pet peave of mine. I hope you weren't riding on the sidwalk also making all of the pedestrians get out of the way. The point is driver are looking for slow moving people in the crosswalk. If you were riding you were going faster than a pedestrian so that might be why he didn't see you.

My advise to you is to try to get the guy to pay by PROMPTLY bringing him an estimate from a bike shop. Then get him to pay PROMPTLY. Do not let him say he will mail you a seck next week after he gets paid. he wont do it then you will wait and forget about it. if he wont pay right away go to the insurance company. If he says he has to wait till he gets paid, have him post date a check. I don't know if anyone would really do this but it is worth a shot.

SO get him to pay ASAP, and don't ride on the sidewalk.