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-   -   Recommendation for a bike lawyer in SF (http://www.bikeforums.net/northern-california/912879-recommendation-bike-lawyer-sf.html)

bikergirlsf 09-13-13 10:51 PM

Recommendation for a bike lawyer in SF
 
Hi bikers, I'm wondering if someone could point me in the right direction of a resource that can help me figure out what my rights are. I slightly scratched the side of a car with my handlebar -- really not much of a scratch, but more of a scuffmark. I was intending to do the right thing and pay for it, so I gave the driver my info. She is now going through a collection agency (for some reason it was beyond her to settle it with me personally) to recover her money and I think she's taking me for a ride, because the bill I got was for >1500. Is this normal? I was expecting to pay <500. What's my recourse? Should I get a lawyer involved? It seems silly for such a minor scratch, but since things are getting this blown out of proportion, I'd love help from someone who knows the bike / insurance world. Would love to know what my rights are. Are there lawyers who specialize in bikes stuff? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

katsrevenge 09-13-13 11:27 PM

You need a lawyer. She's milking you. When we had someone total our drivers side car door it only came to a 900 dollar bill.

SClaraPokeman 09-14-13 12:30 AM

If the matter is with a collection agency right now aren't you leaving out some details? (In fact, how could it even go to any agency?) What documentation did she give you for the initial claim? You must have refused it, why was this? Was she trying to have additional scratches repaired on your dime?

How come you two failed to come to an agreement over such a trivial matter?

I find it hard to believe that it's to anyone's advantage to get a lawyer involved in something like this. It seems to be more a matter of her taking you to small claims if anything.

I'm not saying your in the wrong here--I don't have enough information--but the older I get the more I realize stupid stuff like this needlessly sucks the life out of one.

bikergirlsf 09-14-13 12:53 AM

That's actually why I'm hesitant to call the agency myself without involving a lawyer -- because she never sent me documentation; I've never even seen the claim. She called to say she's getting an estimate, I never received another call or an estimate mailed to me -- instead I received this notice from a "Subrogation specialist." I'm blown away that she chose to pursue something so small through a third party without even sending me an estimate. I'm just trying to figure out what the options are here: pay for a lawyer, or try to figure this out myself, or go to small claims court.

Completely agree that it's a trivial matter, which boggles the mind. I was expecting to settle it like two human beings.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SClaraPokeman (Post 16064209)
If the matter is with a collection agency right now aren't you leaving out some details? (In fact, how could it even go to any agency?) What documentation did she give you for the initial claim? You must have refused it, why was this? Was she trying to have additional scratches repaired on your dime?

How come you two failed to come to an agreement over such a trivial matter?

I find it hard to believe that it's to anyone's advantage to get a lawyer involved in something like this. It seems to be more a matter of her taking you to small claims if anything.

I'm not saying your in the wrong here--I don't have enough information--but the older I get the more I realize stupid stuff like this needlessly sucks the life out of one.


bikergirlsf 09-14-13 12:59 AM

Do you know any good lawyers? What kind of a lawyer should I be looking for? Is this too small for a lawyer to want to take on?

Quote:

Originally Posted by katsrevenge (Post 16064155)
You need a lawyer. She's milking you. When we had someone total our drivers side car door it only came to a 900 dollar bill.


katsrevenge 09-14-13 01:09 AM

Nah, I'm in PA. Sorry.

Nothing is too small for a lawyer. At least take all that paperwork in and get some real advise. Might want to do that before you call this agency. And no, I'm not a lawyer and this is not legal advise. It's just what I'd do.

Astrozombie 09-14-13 02:14 AM

"Trivial matter expected to be settled quickly between two decent people"...........is exactly why we have lawyers! Immature people

"but they started it" "But they started it" "Neener neener neener"

rm -rf 09-14-13 05:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bikergirlsf (Post 16064229)
That's actually why I'm hesitant to call the agency myself without involving a lawyer -- because she never sent me documentation; I've never even seen the claim. She called to say she's getting an estimate, I never received another call or an estimate mailed to me -- instead I received this notice from a "Subrogation specialist." I'm blown away that she chose to pursue something so small through a third party without even sending me an estimate. I'm just trying to figure out what the options are here: pay for a lawyer, or try to figure this out myself, or go to small claims court.

Completely agree that it's a trivial matter, which boggles the mind. I was expecting to settle it like two human beings.

It appears that she sent the claim to her insurance company. They paid for the repair, then they recover the costs by billing you or your insurance.

"What is subrogation"

steelblue 09-14-13 10:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bikergirlsf (Post 16064102)
Hi bikers, I'm wondering if someone could point me in the right direction of a resource that can help me figure out what my rights are. I slightly scratched the side of a car with my handlebar -- really not much of a scratch, but more of a scuffmark. I was intending to do the right thing and pay for it, so I gave the driver my info. She is now going through a collection agency (for some reason it was beyond her to settle it with me personally) to recover her money and I think she's taking me for a ride, because the bill I got was for >1500. Is this normal? I was expecting to pay <500. What's my recourse? Should I get a lawyer involved? It seems silly for such a minor scratch, but since things are getting this blown out of proportion, I'd love help from someone who knows the bike / insurance world. Would love to know what my rights are. Are there lawyers who specialize in bikes stuff? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Do you have home or auto insurance? They maybe able to help you.

phoebeisis 09-14-13 11:03 AM

You have 4 choices
1)Just pay the $1500
2) Hire lawyer-pay him-them pay her insurance company-probably more than the $1500
3) Stiff the insurance company bill collector company - they have to get a judgement against you-and then they actually have to collect that judgement.
just what PROOF do they have that you "did it" and "it" was all your fault?
4)Call the bill collector-offer $500-if they take it-great-if not-just stiff them.

Heck if they don't have any "proof"-your rights are to just stiff them.
Lawyer-just a waste of $$.

FrenchFit 09-14-13 06:15 PM

Y'all live on a different planet then me. I know of no lawyer who would touch such a trivial thing, and I know lots-o-lawyers. Send the collection agency a certified registered mail letter, "I owe no such debt, don't contact me again". You're done if and until you get a court summons, then you can defend yourself.

Beaker 09-14-13 09:01 PM

Paging @bikingshearer ....

Something here sounds fishy to me. I would have thought that the other party's insurance company would be taking care of this. OP - do you have auto insurance? If so, have you tried giving them a call to see if they might be able to explain what you might do?

SClaraPokeman 09-15-13 09:08 AM

An insurance company will "take care" of a repair but then try to collect from the other party involved in the accident. In a auto on auto claim the insurance company will invoice the other party's insurance company which would do their own investigation and either accept the claim or reject it. It seems in this case the bicyclist probably presented no insurance information so that step was bypassed and the insurance company is directly billing the cyclist based on their client's assertion that the bicyclist admitted fault.

I strongly feel that Bikergirlsf should know what she's being billed for. If I wasn't presented with this information I wouldn't pay either. It's useless to ask the collection agency for this information however as they won't know--she will need to go to the insurance company for it.

I'm not so sure that if a bicyclist causes property damage that it's going to be covered on an auto policy though. It's an interesting question, what happens for instance, in the case of a bicyclist blowing a stop light, injuring someone, and facing much more serious claims. Is there anything in one's auto insurance policy about covering the insured for non-auto forms of transportation-such as a bike, skateboard, or even running? Would one's homeowner's insurance come into play instead?

I do know, because I've seen more than one lawyer advise it, that it's a good idea for any bicyclist to pay a little extra and have one's 'uninsured or underinsured' motorist coverage maximized because this can pay medical claims of a bicyclist injured by an auto. However, I just don't know about property damage caused by a bicycle.

Dchiefransom 09-15-13 08:14 PM

The Subrogation Specialist should work for her insurance company, and that should be easy for you to verify. It should be on whatever claim they sent you. It could also be a scam to not fix the car and bilk you out of $1,500. Contact them back and demand all the estimates and copies of receipts for the work.

bikingshearer 09-17-13 01:47 PM

[QUOTE=Beaker;16066449]Paging @bikingshearer ....

You rang?

My off the cuff thoughts, many of which reflect what others have already said:

(1) No lawyer can clear his or her throat for $1,500. The county court may have a small claims advisor, though.

(2) The "collection agency" has nothing to collect unless somebady already went to court and got a judgment against you. I assume you would know if that had happened. If the insurance company sold the claim to the collection agency, then they will have the right to sue you. Since it is a small claims court matter, there is a good chance that they agency won't pursue it, as they have to line up the witnesses to come to court (nobody from the collection agency can testify about the damage - that is "hearsay" and not admissible).

(3) I agree with the poster who suggested offering something to settle the matter. I'd start with, say, $350 and let yourself be talked up to $500, if that is your top dollar figure. (Never start a negotiation with your final figure. Never.) Do it in writing to the person and teir insurance company. Give them a deadline to accept or the offer is rescinded. State in the letter that this is not an admission of guilt or obligation in any amount but only a compromise offered solely in an effort to resolve the matter (that makes the letter inadmissable at any subsequent court proceeding, where the other side would otherwise use it to try to show you admitted that you owed at least $350). If they accept, it's money well spent to make it go away. Also, if they accept it, make sure there is a settlement agreement signed by all paties in which the car owner, insurance company and the "collection agency" all sign off on waiving any and all claims against you.

(4) Right now, you have the money and they want to get it from you. You are not required to initiate anyting at this point. In fact, except to send the letter described above, don't try. The burden is on them.

(5) AS I mentioned, this is a small claims court matter (which, incidentally, adds a layer of complexity for a corporation or other business entity). If you are served with a small claims summons and complaint, the very first thing to do is to go to the Nolo Press website or go to a bookstore and get a copy of the latest edition of Nolo Press' book on how to handle a California small claims court case. It is an invaluble guide to the ins and outs of dealing with the small claims court process and how to put your case together for maximum impact. The Nolo Press people are top-drawer when it comes to self-help legal stuff.

(6) I'm sorry this got unnecessarily unpleasant, but regardless, good on you for trying to do the right thing. No good deed goes unpunished, but being able to sleep at night has its rewards.


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