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  1. #1
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    i got hit by a car now what?

    ok so i was riding my bike straight north and someone in a car turned left and hit me practically head on. i bounced onto the windshield smashed it and flipped over the car. he stopped and waited for the police and all that thank god. an ambulance came and got me and i didn't even break anything...i just can't move my left foot and my right knee is in a lot of pain. so anyways i picked up the accident report today from the police department. i'm not really sure what to do next. i've already had people coming to my door to talk to me about suing the guy. i would prefer to settle everything in a positive manner but i have no experience with this sort of thing. do i call the guy to get his insurance information and tell him i want him to pay for my bike? i'm a bike mechanic and because i can't stand up/walk around right now i'm missing work and hence not getting paid. should i get one of these lawyers and have it all go through him/her? i really just don't know how these things work and i don't want to screw anyone over but it is completely this guys fault. any advice or previous experience in similar situations would be appreciated.

    thanks!

  2. #2
    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    Settling in a positive manner may be difficult, unless you are happy being the loser.
    (Im assuming you were operating your bike on the road in a legal manner)
    Until you are well, your foot and knee are messed up and you can't work.

    That driver took your bike, wellness and work for the near future away from you.

    You need to be compensated for what was taken from you. Don't be afraid to make it
    right. You're screwing yourself over if you don't.

    You may need to see a doctor, and there may be a need for physical therapy
    (thats up to the Dr)

    Lastly, from an advocacy standpoint, if you sue him you are showing this driver
    and anyone he tells the story to that there are consequences to driving your
    car into a cyclist.
    Last edited by Hobartlemagne; 04-15-08 at 03:36 PM.

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  3. #3
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    should i even bother trying to talk to him before i have a lawyer?

  4. #4
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    No way. I don't know about where you are, but in Seattle there is at least one law firm that specializes only in bicycle law.

  5. #5
    Senior Member John Wilke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobartlemagne View Post
    ...

    That driver took your bike, wellness and work for the near future away from you.

    You need to be compensated for what was taken from you. Don't be afraid to make it
    right. You're screwing yourself over if you don't.

    You may need to see a doctor, and there may be a need for physical therapy
    (thats up to the Dr)

    Lastly, from an advocacy standpoint, if you sue him you are showing this driver
    and anyone he tells the story to that there are consequences to driving your
    car into a cyclist.
    I agree 100%.

    You're not out to make a profit, just being compensated for damage done to you.

    I was run over two years ago from behind. Spent two weeks in the hospital, three months off work, it took two years for me to fully recover. It was hit and run, the driver was never caught.

    Glad you weren't seriously hurt and GOOD LUCK!!

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  6. #6
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    I was right hooked and I ended up with a radial fracture at my right elbow and my left knee had 8 stitches.
    My wife and I filled a claim with the motorist's insurance and have been working through things with them. We can always get a lawyer if they start screwing with us but everything has been going well so far.
    The bike and all my accessories has been replaced. The medical part is on going.
    It is really a call for the OP to make.
    In my case, I suppose I could start a lawsuit and drag things out to get some extra cash but I do not see the point.

    It sounds like the OP's situation is fairly serious compared to mine. It can't hurt to talk to a lawyer just in case.

  7. #7
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    Talk to the motorist's insurance co - this info should have been provided by motorist to police, and included in report. That's the normal channel for auto crashes. If the best offer you can wrangle out of them for property, medical costs and compensation for lost wages is inadequate, then find a lawyer.

    Probably >90% of "fender-benders" are resolved without legal action.

    There's no need to talk to the motorist.

    Most reputable auto insurance cos are eager to resolve these cases in a reasonably fair way without going to court. I think you'll find the insurance co. rep to be real happy you didn't go straight to an attorney to try to get an exorbitant settlement.

    I was hit in a similar accident, motorists ins co treated me fair.

    You're probably screwed if the motorist is uninsured - if they can't afford ins, then they probably have nothing for you to take in court.

    If your foot/knee injuries are permanent, you should consider more aggressive action.

  8. #8
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    A lawyer will help get the driver's insurance co to pay your medical bills (vs you paying them out of your pocket and then getting reimbursed from them), which could be important. I did kind of a hybrid thing when I got hit where my lawyer did that, got the insurance co to pay my bills, then I just didn't want to go to the hassle of suing the guy for every last possible dime so I wound up paying the lawyer a fee (surprisingly small) for the papers he had shuffled, and then the insurance co I wound up getting a (surprisingly reasonable) settlement from, for medical plus a new bike. They didn't just pay only what I documented (bills plus timesheets w/ sicktime), but acknowledged the hassle of taking all that sick time for appointments and whatever... however, the worst case is that they will only pay what you can document, so that is something to keep in mind. Good luck, get better.

  9. #9
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    the driver was driving someone else's car and so the insurance is unknown and he has 10 days apparently to get the information in to the police.

  10. #10
    Pedal pusher... alicestrong's Avatar
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    Do YOU have insurance?

    You need a doc to check your knee right away...
    May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

  11. #11
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    Disclaimer: I am not an expect and have never been in this situation before.

    But I would recommend getting all paperwork in order and keep records of everything you can.

    Go and see and doctor and get their recommendations regarding medical treatment, both short and long term and keep all your medical receipts. Also keep records of exactly how much time you were away from work as a result.
    I want to live.

  12. #12
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    If things work out well with the insurance company you may get your bike replaced and you may get compensated for your injuries. If you get a lawyer (and in my opinion you probably need one) you need to know up front how much they are going to cost.

    Some of these people knocking on your door with offers to represent you will work for a percentage of the settlement (a fairly large percentage). If you choose to go that way, you will probably be on the hook for taxes on the full amount of the settlement even if you give as much as half to the lawyer. That could leave you with less money than you need for medical, lost work and a bike replacement.

    On the other hand, you sound like your pretty well banged up and that could last a while. The insurance company isn't going to like that and they will probably push you to settle soon for a little as they think they can get away with.

    Maybe you could check in with Legal Aid for some free advice. Perhaps the owner of the shop where you work knows some people who can help.

    I hope you get a fair settlement. Good luck and stop worrying about the poor driver..........you didn't hit him.

  13. #13
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxmaxmax View Post
    the driver was driving someone else's car and so the insurance is unknown and he has 10 days apparently to get the information in to the police.
    Alarm bells should be going off.
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  14. #14
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    Take photos of your bike and your injuries. Take more photos of your injuries as they heal.

    Get a copy of the preliminary police report, and file your own amendments to it before it's finalized.

    Keep copies of all doctor's visits and bills, including receipts from the pharmacy for bandages, pain meds, etc.

    Keep track of how much time off of work you miss.

    Get a local bike shop to inspect your bike and decide whether or not it's "totaled".

    Bottom line: document everything. Whether or not you use a lawyer, it will help you in the negotiations.

    Note: you may be surprised at how large the settlement offer is...the insurance company will likely offer to cover all of your med bills, lost time at work, plus $10-20,000 for "pain and suffering" and contingencies. But, be careful about taking their first offer...that's where a good lawyer can help you out.

    Heal well, and best of luck.
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  15. #15
    avoiding my car
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    Here is a link to a story of a cyclist's recovery from a crash:
    http://www.floridabicycle.org/messen.../winter036.htm
    His was worse than yours, but he offers good advice for dealing with insurance companies and lawyers.

    First, if you have an auto insurance policy, your PIP will cover your medical and might cover a percentage of lost wages. I carry a medical rider on mine (it's very cheap) and it fills in some of the gaps as well.

    My own personal experience with being hit was not as bad. I was not badly injured - some bruises, a sprain and the tip of one finger was broken. The driver had State Farm. The State Farm adjuster was not only prompt in reimbursing me for all bike repair expenses, he actually pursued me to offer a (generous) settlement for the broken finger. But my experience is rare, from all the horror stories I've heard.

    I'm not sure how the insurance thing works with a non-owner driver, but I was under the impression that a driver's liability insurance applies no-matter what vehicle is driven. If the driver did not own a car or have insurance, you might have a battle with the car-owner's company.

    Good luck. Heal fast.
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  16. #16
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    Get a lawyer that has experience handling cycling cases.

    The fact that the driver is not the owner may complicate things. If the drivers was not an authorized operator, the owners insurance may refuse to pay up. I doubt that the driver has insurance, but if he does, a claim needs to also be filed with them.

    You may also be able to collect med bills, lost work and bike repairs from your insurance and then let them go after the other guys insurance. But this course does not get pain and suffering covered. For that you will do best having a lawyer go after them.

    Lawyers normally get 25-33% of the pay out.

    Good luck

  17. #17
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    If you choose to go that way, you will probably be on the hook for taxes on the full amount of the settlement even if you give as much as half to the lawyer. That could leave you with less money than you need for medical, lost work and a bike replacement.
    This is not correct. Money received as the result of a personal injury claim isn't taxable, regardless of whether you hire a lawyer.

    Money received as the result of a discrimination claim or other claim not involving personal injury is taxable, regardless of whether you hire a lawyer. If you use part of the settlement money to pay a lawyer, that money is deductible - I think it's an above-the-line deduction.

    If your injuries aren't complicated (i.e., you won't require months or years of rehabilitation and additional surgeries) and the driver's insurance company is reasonable, you can probably settle this without a lawyer. If the injuries are complicated or the insurance company is intractable, you probably do need a lawyer.

  18. #18
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    At least consult with an attorney.

    Read "Bicycling and the Law" and you will see that there are all kinds of legal pitfalls to trip you up. You may think you are settling for a fair amount but there are other insurance companies who can come after YOU for money that they may have paid out.

    It all gets complicated. It usually doesn't cost anything for an initial consultation. There are all kinds of bike lawyers out there so be sure you get one who IS a bike lawyer not just calls himself one.

    Try www.bicyclelaw.com for info or a referral.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

  19. #19
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alhedges View Post
    This is not correct. Money received as the result of a personal injury claim isn't taxable, regardless of whether you hire a lawyer.

    Money received as the result of a discrimination claim or other claim not involving personal injury is taxable, regardless of whether you hire a lawyer. If you use part of the settlement money to pay a lawyer, that money is deductible - I think it's an above-the-line deduction.

    If your injuries aren't complicated (i.e., you won't require months or years of rehabilitation and additional surgeries) and the driver's insurance company is reasonable, you can probably settle this without a lawyer. If the injuries are complicated or the insurance company is intractable, you probably do need a lawyer.
    Only those portions received for injury are tax free. The Supreme Court has ruled that punative damages are taxable. Back wages are taxable.

  20. #20
    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    1) see a doctor
    2) find a personal injury attorney
    3) document your injuries now before they heal
    4) document damage to your bike
    5) keep all paperwork related to this; document everything.

    Don't talk to that person or his insurance company, or sign anything.
    The insurance company isn't interested in doing this in "a positive manner." Their only interest is getting you as little money as possible. They don't want you to sue them which costs them substantially more.

    Even with an atty taking 30% you're likely to get more than what the insurance company will offer you off the bat.
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  21. #21
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    Also don't settle on the medical for like a year at least, you want to make sure stealth problems don't develop or recur. It might take you that long to find out what insurance is responsible anyway in the case of a non-owner. Good luck with that.

  22. #22
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    Only those portions received for injury are tax free. The Supreme Court has ruled that punative damages are taxable. Back wages are taxable.
    Yes, punitives are taxable. Lost wages due to a personal injury are not taxable. Details are here: http://xrl.in/34g, but the money quotes are "The [Internal Revenue] Service has consistently held that compensatory damages, including lost wages, received on account of a physical injury are excludable from gross income" and (discussing a later amendment to the IRC "If an action has its origin in a physical injury or physical sickness, then all damages (other than punitive) that flow therefrom are treated as payments received on account of physical injury or physical sickness whether or not the recipient of the damages is the injured party. For example, damages (other than punitive) received by an individual on account of a claim for loss of consortium due to the physical injury or physical sickness of such individual's spouse are excludable from gross income."

  23. #23
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    I am personally not a big fan of bringing out the "big guns" aka the lawyers immediately. You do need to find out immediately what your rights are. I was hit last year in Western NY by someone who failed to stay stopped at a stop sign (I had the right of way). I was lucky as I bounced off the hood as well, but only ended up with a jambed thumb, but nothing serious. I was also luck as her insurance agent was very helpful and very pleasant. It turns out that in NY state there is a no-fault clause that gets invoked in an accident that happends with a pedestrian or cyclist. Each state is different. Once you know you rights you can make sure you get everything replaced that was damaged. If the driver's insurance company gives you any sort of grief, then get a lawyer immedaitely. If you feel that you are being re-imbursed properly, then save your money. I'll explain below how NY state does its re-imbursement and how it effected me:

    The NY state no fault means that the auto insurance of the driver that hit you, will pay YOU no matter what the reason for the accident. I was told (and within a few days received the NY state paperwork) that explains my rights as an injured pedestrian or cyclist. I was limited to receiving only direct compensation for any losses. This meant I would have all my medical and physicaly damaged items replaced, and I was entitled to 80% of lost wages. If I had broken something, had injuries that were long term, or was dead, I would then be allowed to sue to pain and suffering. That seems fair to me. No lawer was needed as long as the insurance company replaced everything. I was told right away my claim # and how to contact the hospital to ensure my bills would be sent directly to the insurance company. I have health insurance, but it will NOT cover you in case of an accident where an other insurance company may be responsible to pay (in this case the driver's insurance company). Even though my bike was nearly 30 years old the company didn't give me one bit of grief over going out and buying a brank new bike + fenders + rack + basic lighting that was similar to what I had before. I received my money within 3 weeks. I never saw a single bill for medical coverage, and after a few weeks I got my money for the few hours of lost wages (4 hours spent in ER waiting to take X-ray of hand). In my case a lawyer would have been money out of my own pocket and they would not have gotten me one cent more. I got back what I lost (bike was trashed as was some of my clothing), and was paid for my medical expenses. There were no long term injuries so I found this all to be completely fair. I bet it cost twice as much to repair the car as the insurance company spent on my costs.

    I hope you feel better soon.

    Happy riding,
    André

  24. #24
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    Lawyer. Up.

    If I or someone I knew was injured in any significant way, I would waste exactly 0 minutes in getting a lawyer involved - it's just far too dangerous _not_ to do so. It's not personal/acrimonious/etc., it's common sense - it's protecting yourself and your family and friends - especially since you'll be leaning on all of them if/when you go bankrupt - which is obviously not fair to them. Right now, it's you vs. 'the system' - and without a lawyer you will almost certainly lose.

    I don't know if this guy does referrals, but I've been reading his blog for a couple of months, now, and he definitely seems like a good guy, and a good resource - this is the first place I'd go if I or a friend was injured in a bike accident:

    http://www.tucsonbikelawyer.com/

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by alhedges View Post
    Yes, punitives are taxable.
    Does it have to be awarded by a judge to be 'punitive'? What about cash in a settlement in excess of documented expenses?

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