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HIT BY CAR on Christmas Eve- legal advice anyone?(21 posts)

HIT BY CAR on Christmas Eve- legal advice anyone?hungry
Dec 26, 2003 4:57 PM
On Dec. 24th, I was hit by a car that rolled through a stop sign, completely driver's fault. I landed face first: my face is a mess, front teeth are loose, $3200 bike destroyed, broken finger, sore shoulder and knee. The sherriff gave me the driver's insurance info at the hospital, and will file his report on monday. My auto insurance company says I must contact the driver's insurance myself since I was on a bike. What do I do? Should I just deal with the driver's insurance, or get a personal injury lawyer, or what? Any advice is greatly appreciated. thanks.
re: HIT BY CAR on Christmas Eve- legal advice anyone?Squint
Dec 26, 2003 5:36 PM
Just get a lawyer. The driver's insurance company will always try to screw you over. Personal injury lawyers in this situation should work on contingency so it doesn't cost you anything. People these days don't care about anyone except themselves so hit them in the only place it counts, their wallet, and they'll think twice about driving carelessly. Not because someone could get hurt but because they'll lose money.

Suing or retaining an attorney because you spilled coffee in your crotch is one thing but you've been genuinely wronged here.
re: HIT BY CAR on Christmas Eve- legal advice anyone?hrdcorebikerboy
Dec 26, 2003 6:14 PM
Gee, that's an optimistic outlook. I'm sure the ambulance chasers will line up for the business. The idea that "people these days" don't care is kind of funny. What, like they used to care when they ran people over in days gone past? Does the word "accident" register here? Perhaps the person driving might feel just a little bad...maybe? And of course, you've never taken your eyes off the road or rolled through a stop sign before, right?

Shifting to our friend here who got flattened, sorry to hear of your accident. I would see what the driver's deal is (a non-repentant loser or someone who just really screwed up). Based on where the driver's head was or is at, I would then determine how hard you want to go here. The insurance company will offer a low settlement, of which the lawyer would get 30 percent for just sending the first letter. You may want to determine from a couple of lawyers what they think a reasonable settlement amount would be based on the circumstances and past cases (they'll tell you what they think they can get to coax you along into hiring them for the trip). Let's say the consensus is that $100,000 is reasonable for your loss and suffering (a totally hypothetical number). If the lawyer is going to bag $30K already and the insurance company would have to pay legal costs, you may want to see if the insurance company would settle out of court for $60 - 70K to avoid the whole mess. It's likely that they'll only initially offer the cost of the bike and medical. Getting them to settle will get the money a whole lot faster. If you want to get rich off the deal and take your chances, don't think that this deal would necessarily be a slam dunk. You might end up with years of legal issues only to settle out of court in the end anyway. In that case, the only ones getting rich are the trial lawyers.

Good luck.
let me count to ten --bill
Dec 26, 2003 8:33 PM
First you call lawyers "ambulance chasers," then you say, hey man, sh*t happens, doesn't everyone make mistakes, what's your problem, then you go back to the greedy lawyer thing about how the lawyer is going to make 30% of $100,000(!!!!) for writing a single letter (??!!!), then you tell him to go get the benefit of a bunch of lawyers' advice for free, and then you tell him to get the money himself and take it and run, cutting out the "greedy" lawyer whose advice you tell him to steal, and that, if it takes years to get a fair resolution, the only ones getting rich are the "trial lawyers," without ever explaining how, if the lawyer works up the case with lots of his time and advice and skill and gets the client more, the lawyer, who is working on a percentage so that the amount that the plaintiff gets goes up faster than the client's, is the only one "getting rich," . . . .
I could go on. Get a clue. You have no idea how the system works or where this guy should begin. The saddest thing is that I know that you are not alone in your opinions.
To our hero -- if you hire a lawyer, you will have the benefit of a professional's advice in both assessing fair compensation and in gathering information and materials to sell it to the insurance company or, if necessary, a jury. If you don't want those services, don't take them. The system doesn't require a lawyer any more than you need a mechanic to fix your own car. If you know what you're doing, fine, do it. If you don't, hire a lawyer. For what you have going, it's probably worth it to get a lawyer. It's what they do.
For some reason, people think that it's fine to rip off lawyers, while insulting them the entire time to boot, in a way that they would never rip off or insult others. Most lawyers, including trial lawyers, are just people who work pretty hard for their money and they're honest and they're pretty good at what they do. I have been lied to by clients far more often than I ever have been lied to by lawyers.
Oh, and, of course I'm a lawyer.
In the meantime, take pictures, document everything andbill
Dec 26, 2003 8:39 PM
anything, and be careful about what you say to the insurance company until you're damn well sure about what you are saying -- for example, I meet with clients all the time who tell me stuff like "the light was red for five minutes." Well, there's not a light in the world that stays red for five minutes. Stuff like estimating time and distance before you think about what you're saying gets people into trouble.
And, feel better. It sucks. I'm sorry.
let me count to ten --hrdcorebikerboy
Dec 27, 2003 5:13 AM
Oh, you're a lawyer. Great. Can you count to 10? (Couldn't resist). As a matter of fact, I do know how the system works. Which is why 30 percent is the standard fee for a "contingency lawyer," which is code for "ambulance chaser." I didn't say all lawyers are ambulance chasers, you made the reference to contingency.

Second, I didn't say don't hire a lawyer. Since you distorted the original post I wrote, I said talk to the driver and figure out where his head is at. You stated that essentially the driver was an incoherant schmuck that deserved to be destroyed for not caring (so much for "professional advice"). I simply stated that may be over the top and you should not assume that straight out of the gate this guy was a crazed killer. The fact is, you don't necessarily need a lawyer to justly compensated by an insurance company. In more than 95 percent of accident and product liability cases filed, most are thrown out or settled. That's why the amublance chasers love this bit, they initiate the contact with the insurance company that is already going to have to pay, they nudge the settlement number up and collect the 30 percent -- it's a cottage industry friend. That's the fact. Ask any lawyer doing contingency business for accidents and see how many cases actually go to trial -- the answer is very few.

The insurance company already knows what it is in for and will offer a settlement. An individual can substantially move that settlement number sans a lawyer (that means without one for those of you in the legal profession) if you know what the issue is worth and how insurance companies settle claims. It sounds like in this case, our hero was banged up pretty good, but is going to recover without life alterning long term effects (he was able to post emails within 24 hours of the event, so I assume he's going to be okay). If he has long term issues that mandate a larger settlement due to lost income extended pain and suffering, than by all means get a lawyer and get a fair settlement. But that's not what our hero indicated in the post, hence my recommendation to do a little homework before hiring a lawyer right at the get go.

Oh yes, I'm not a lawyer, but I play one on TV.
Oops, sorry, Bill, didn't notice I wasn't replying to Squishyhrdcorebikerboy
Dec 27, 2003 7:28 AM
Still, I stand by my advice that you don't need to sue the minute there is an accident. Not all lawyers are bad...but there are alot of bad lawyers. I'm sure you are one of the good ones.
get a laywermohair_chair
Dec 26, 2003 5:57 PM
Just get a lawyer. They know what to do. It's not worth the time or the aggravation to try to do it yourself, and if you do, the insurance company will dick you around forever just because they can. Getting a lawyer tells them you are serious.
No advise just hope you get better soon -nm-tmotz
Dec 26, 2003 7:02 PM
ummmmCARBON110
Dec 26, 2003 7:32 PM
Very sorry to hear that. Get a lawyer and interview ALOT fo them! Find someone you know in your area that knows the city attorney and ask them who is good etc. Find a good lawyer, that will make the difference in everything. Get well soon and back on the bike :D
HiHo, HiHo, It's off to court you go!!Dave_Stohler
Dec 26, 2003 8:10 PM
Get an attorney, even if it's just your usual "contract" lawyer. The insurance company will be contacting you through a lawyer, there will be a lawyer reviewing your claim, medical reports, etc. Settling a claim without a lawyer is like driving without a seatbelt-you may end up OK, or you may get scr3wed. The choice is yours.
A question for Dave Stohler...Uncle Tim
Dec 26, 2003 10:45 PM
Dave, did you get a lawyer when that Italian racer put his frame pump in your front wheel?
No...Dave_Stohler
Dec 26, 2003 11:35 PM
My dad knew dis guy called "Two Fingers" Tony, and he went an' re-arranged da guys spokes fer him!
Need a lawyer and you need to start documenting now!nonutin
Dec 26, 2003 8:59 PM
1st write or have a friend write up the accident (when, where, how, how much, etc with pictures). Take pictures of your injuries. Get copies of all doctor's notes and make sure you agree with their anaylsis. Check the police report for errors. Write up every day your doctor appointments, how you had to change your daily life, etc.

Find a lawyer who specializes in personal injury and make sure he goes to court 2 or 3 times a year. If the other insurance company is going to pay for your treatments have your providers send all bills "return receipt requested".

You will probably be paid in full for your bicycle. Most insurance companies will fight with every dirty trick to stop you from receiving medical care; not pay your bills on time, pay your doctor less than billed, deny treatment is related to accident, etc.. When you hire an attorney ask if he will represent you in these matters also.

Hiring a large personal injury firm can be best. The insurance companies have billions of dollars at their disposal and often their own law firms. An average attorney can rarely afford to have a pissing match on the boiler plate motions and other junk that their computers dish out in mass. Juries rarely give large awards in traffic accidents. First, they are concerned that large awards will raise their premiums and secondly they feel traffic accidents are part of life and you shouldn't complain.

Dealing with an insurance company is like dealing with the devil. They are both have a slick gracious mask but the devil face includes he was a fallen angel,the insurance company's face is just hell. You need representation if only not to have to have deal directly with satan.

P.S. My username is nonutin but that refers to roadbikes. In this case been there, done that.
First, make sure you get your physical problems properly lookeddjg
Dec 27, 2003 8:55 AM
at and taken care of. Medical and dental. Make sure that you are going to be ok and that you know what it will take for you to be ok.

Second, I'd consult an attorney. It sounds as though you have significant injuries--possibly major dental work, other bodily injuries, and maybe some down time. Seek local advice about solid, reputable, personal injury attorneys. Try to meet with one. For all the rubbish above about ambulance chasers, responsible lawyers will not look to milk your injuries; neither will they encourage you to try to "get rich" off minor injuries (and not just because chasing unlikely pipe dreams isn't worth their time). A good attorney will help you organize and present your claim. He or she will, generally, earn his or her keep. Among other things: your dental bills should be covered; your medical and therapy bills should be covered; and your property loss should be covered. If you want to wing it, go ahead--but I'd see a lawyer.

Finally, I'd ignore the advice about investigating the soul of your injurer. Attempting to use the tort system for vengence or forgiveness or some fine moral instrument in between is liable to be frustrating and worse. Don't go there.

I know Bill personally. He's a smart, sensible, and honorable guy and he doesn't chase ambulances. He helps injured persons seek compensation for their injuries. I'm not a personal injury lawyer of any sort, but when a friend at one of the nation's top appellate practices asked for recommendations of good Virginia personal injury lawyers, I was pleased to pass on Bill's name and number. I'd take his advice.
lawyer, and photos asapwooden legs
Dec 27, 2003 10:48 AM
get a lawyer and document as soon as possible, lots of digital pictures. anything having to do with the face is something you should look for compensation for because it can severely impact quality of life in the future (scars / lost teeth). don't contact the insurance company yourself, they will definitely try to screw you over. when i was hit i found a lawyer that specializes in bike accidents, he races and rides himself and was extremely helpful and understanding, knew all the ins and outs of cycle / car accidents (Mark Reisman in Pittsburgh, PA).

. i have no sympathy for the careless owner / operator of the lethal weapon you were hit with, hope he learns his lesson and you heal up quickly to enjoy whatever new cycling wonder you get with your settlement. good luck!
re: HIT BY CAR on Christmas Eve- legal advice anyone?MPH74
Dec 27, 2003 11:51 AM
i may be repeating previous advice but didn't have time to read thru the above posts... here's my 2 cents:

dealing with the ins. co will be a pain. i tried it. after 3 months of little or no response i got a lawyer. key is to find a responsible lawyer that will care to take a small case such as yours and mine. i managed to in austin, tx. my medical expenses were $3000 and property damages was $3500 (bike and accesories).

the driver's insurance company will hopefully pay for your property damages (i asked for $3550 and got $3500 - $50 of depreciation on clothing but none on bike!!). take your bike to several shops and ask them to give you an estimate for repair. they will obviously tell you it's beyong repair. have them document this and also get the cost of a replacement bike - 2004 model.

the ins. co will also pay for medical bills. plus you may also get a bit more for pain and suffering. i will end up with the property damage reimbursement and maybe an extra $500 after legal fees. keep in mind that you have to give your health ins. company any cash you recieve for medical bills they covered.

without the lawyer i think i wouldn't have even gotten the $3500 in prop damage.

ALSO, see if you got PIP (personal injury protection) on YOUR auto insurance. if you do you could get reimbursed for all medical costs from them too despite having been reimbursed by the driver's ins. co. you are entitled to keep that money i beleive. i didn't have PIP but have known several people who have and been in bike wrecks.
Dude, I feel your pain...literally. Take it from melancewannabe
Dec 27, 2003 5:29 PM
First of all, I am really sorry that you have to go through all this. It is niether fun nor fair. On August 10, I hit a car driven by an elderly man who "didnt see me" and pulled out directly infront of me as I was coming down a hill. Again, it was completely their fault. Anyways...

My first recommendation is to get a lawyer. Please make sure that you are very comfortable with that person. The 30% seems to be pretty standard fee. It is well worth it to not have to deal with the insurance company. Also, they do this all the time and know how to make it easier for you.
For example: With my accident we did not want
1. to have to pay ANYTHING out of pocket, and
2. We wanted money to replace my bike right away (apparently, insurance companies dont usually make any payments untill all the bills are in and they just pay one lump sum).

I am happy to say that both of these criteria have been met thus far and I am about half way through my medical treatment.

Hiring a lawyer is a must when there are serious injuries.
Insurance companies are going to take care of the claim as easily and inexpensively as possible- that is the nature of the business.

more advice (but the lawyer will tgell you this too):
1. take pictures of everything (you, bike, car, location)
2. document everything (how you feel, the impact on your dily life/routine, work missed, etc)
3. DO NOT TALK TO THE INSURANCE COMPANY AT ALL. just tell the to make all inquaries to your lawyer. If you dont have one yet, tell them that your lawyer will be contacting them soon. If you talk to them and they so much as ask you how your doing today and you say "OK" thst can be used against you.
4. DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANY. They will want a statement quickly, but do not necessarily need it quickly. If you make a statement without a lawyers approval, you risk backing youself into a corner down the road.

Good Luck, I hope you make a quick and complete recovery,

Michael
Now for a different take...baylor
Dec 28, 2003 3:02 PM
I don't agree that you should start out by retaining a lawyer. In a circumstance of clear liability, the thing is almost certain to settle. The value of your case (ie., your recoverable damages) does not go up merely because you get a lawyer, but assuming that you cut a deal that reasonably reflects your damages, having a lawyer does dramatically reduce what you can put in your own pocket (which in many jurisdictions is closer to 35% plus costs, not a flat 30%).

If and only if you start to get jacked around on settlement value consider consulting with a PI lawyer.

Get a dentist to evaluate your teeth. That's the biggest wild card. If the periodontal ligament is damaged, if the trauma has affected the pulp, etc. you can risk loss or death of the tooth. That's a far cry more significant that just waiting for them to tighten up again.

Otherwise, you are looking at the replacement value of your bike, reimbursed medical bills, and some pain and suffering compensation (lost wages if you missed work). Don't think you've hit the lottery -- unless you are losing teeth this is probably about a $10,000-$15,000 claim (at least here in Colorado where I practice).
Whoops. That's from jtollesonbaylor
Dec 28, 2003 3:05 PM
my partner has been on the computer and I forgot to change the login.

PS -- I'd ditto the other advice regarding a comprehensive evaluation and documentation, I just wouldn't run to a lawyer.

Oh, and as for the gratuitous slap at plaintiff's lawyers (of which I am NOT one) as "ambulance chasers," most good PI attorneys will indeed NOT be lining up for a case of this size. Most cities have heavily advertised settlement mills ... those are the only folks I know of that arguably "line up" for claims worth less than $50k.
Find a GOOD dentist...Todd_Fuller
Dec 28, 2003 7:36 PM
Handle these other legal issues in due course. As other have said, get everything checked out. Most doctors will be able to fix your injuries but not all dentists will be able to fix your teeth if they really need some work. Being someone who had their front teeth knocked out by a hit and run, I know how important it is to have a good dentist.

I got implants at the advisement of my dentist and they've turned out great. The best decision I could have made. There are, of course, many options if it does come down to pulling your teeth. Find a good dentist though. A bad one can cause longterm problems.