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  1. #1
    laterally compliant keevohn's Avatar
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    On filtering thru traffic, accidents, and insurance (long)

    OK, let me preface this by saying that I'm 100% fine. Please don't fill this thread with "whoa man, that sucks, glad you're OK" or "thank god you were wearing a helmet" or "f*ck cars, I hate cars". The sentiment is appreciated, but I'm looking for solid advice.

    Yesterday evening I was involved in a bike/car accident. My normal route home from work takes me down Forbes Ave, a three-lane one-way street in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. As per usual, all three lanes of traffic were at a standstill through this area, and I was filtering through traffic by riding down the lane markers between the leftmost two lines of cars. As I was passing an Arby's on my left, a car (heading for the Arby's parking lot) pulled out from a side street on my right and directly into my path. By the time I saw him he was a couple of feet in front of me and I had no time to react. My front wheel struck his left front fender, sending me over the bars and onto his hood, where my body rolled up into his windshield (smashing it) and then down his hood onto the ground.

    I immediately got up, grabbed my bike, waved him into the Arby's parking lot, and we exchanged information in a very calm, matter-of-fact way. Neither of us was pissed, and we couldn't decide who was at fault. He called the police, who decided not to come to the scene because there weren't any injuries. A witness came up and offered her information, which we both recorded. I then had him take camera phone pictures of the damage to his car (smashed windshield, damaged trim and several paint chips), the damage to me (a few scrapes on my right hip above my ass), and the damage to my bike (bent fork and front wheel). We then talked about what happened, came to an agreement about the story, made sure each other was OK, then parted ways.

    What I can't figure out in this situation is who was at fault. I think that I technically hit him, but he pulled into my path so abruptly that it was unavoidable. Is it illegal to filter through traffic as I was and if so, does that have any bearing on who's fault it was? Does fault even matter in this case, where there were no injuries or medical issues, only damage to his car and my bike? How does auto insurance figure into this scenario? Both of us have it, although his is Pennsylvania insurance and mine is from Ohio (haven't switched over yet). Should I consider making a claim on my bike, or is the cost of a replacement fork low enough that I shouldn't risk having my rates increase? Will my insurance cover the damage to his car, or will his take care of that?

    I realize that these are a lot of questions, and I'd greatly appreciate anyone that can offer insight.

  2. #2
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    if you were riding between cars your at fault most likely, that is illegal in most places

  3. #3
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    You were at fault. This is the largest danger of lane splitting through stopped traffic.

    If you can afford it and have reason to keep up your car insurance you should attempt to pay for both your bike and his car out of pocket and keep the insurance companies out of it.

  4. #4
    dutret has a posse ryand's Avatar
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    Pretty sure you werent riding legally, but I cant figure out how this person was making the turn if the road was this packed. Not familiar with the area, so I can't really picture it.

    If the police actually refused to come to the scene of an accident, they should be fired. They should be filling out an accident report for the insurance companies to use. Call back today and try to figure out what dispatcher told you no. That is ****ed up.

    And seriously, glad you are ok. Even if you said not to fill this thread with it.
    Quote Originally Posted by kemmer View Post
    get drunk, ride a scooter, don't steal your girlfriends bike back, get laid anyway, post about it on the internets.

  5. #5
    bike-ist macsaorsa's Avatar
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    I hate to say it, but the law is going to say you were at fault since you weren't riding in a legal spot. If you had been riding on the right side of the righmost lane (or the left side of the leftmost lane since it was a one-way street) then you'd probably be okay. As it is the law will place you at fault since he doesn't really have a legal obligation to check for bikes where there shouldn't be any.

    Check http://www.dot.state.pa.us/BIKE/WEB/bikelaws.htm for actual statutes.

    Also, if you had that little reaction time then you were probably hidden behind cars from his POV when he pulled into your lane.

    It's kind of like if you were crossing a one-way street from a stop and got hit by a car going the wrong way. Yeah, you pulled out in front of him, but you shouldn't have had to check that direction anyway.

    Probably the best you can hope for is that he doesn't file an insurance claim.

    Oh, and whoa man, that sucks, glad you're OK.

  6. #6
    antisocialite dirtyphotons's Avatar
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    i'm still a bit confused about how it happened. you were filtering through three lanes of stopped traffic, and yet he managed to get from a side street on the right, all the way to the marker between the two leftmost lanes. was he cutting quickly through a gap in the two right lanes?

    i think that would clearly put him at fault, as a vehicle moving straight down a road with no stop signs you have the right of way.

    as far as filtering, i hear (hear, don't know) that it's a violation in most places. that being said, it doesn't mean you're at fault if he pulls out in front of you. (edit: this statement is probably wrong. i don't think having broken a law automatically always puts you at fault, but in this situation i could see how it might)

    i'm really trying to look at this from both sides, and much as it was with my last car/bike accident i don't think anyone was being grossly negligent. it was avoidable by both parties (he should've made sure there was no one coming, you could've been riding more slowly while filtering) but neither was doing something incredibly stupid.
    Last edited by dirtyphotons; 02-22-07 at 09:12 AM.
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  7. #7
    dutret has a posse ryand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtyphotons
    i'm still a bit confused about how it happened. you were filtering through three lanes of stopped traffic, and yet he managed to get from a side street on the right, all the way to the marker between the two leftmost lanes. was he cutting quickly through a gap in the two right lanes?
    this is what i was trying to say in my post, only this is probably easier to understand.
    Quote Originally Posted by kemmer View Post
    get drunk, ride a scooter, don't steal your girlfriends bike back, get laid anyway, post about it on the internets.

  8. #8
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    (not from personal experience, but from understanding of the process)

    many states have what's called No Fault insurance laws - you should check to see if yours does. basically, it means that it doesn't matter who's at fault. the Automobile insurance will cover it.

    you should consider filing an accident report with the police (i'm confused why the police didn't come to do just that) - it pretty much is an official record of the accident, which you'll find helpful if/when you involve insurance companies.

    it seems like what should happen under No Fault is that you both get compensation for damages from the driver's auto insurance. and i think you should be compensated. it's what insurance is for. if the state does indeed have No Fault laws, call the insurance company and request a No Fault application.

    you're going to need to take the bike to a bike shop and have them professionally asses the cost of repair and replacement (a new fork, a new rim/spokes/nipples/wheelbuild, and labor, it sounds like). you'd include that in your application for compensation to the insurance company.
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    The cars were stopped and letting him through, I imagine. This is what they should be doing.

    I don't know the pittsburgh laws regarding lane splitting, but it is generally illegal. And even if it is not, you can't fault him for not expecting you to be there, since he can't see you and isn't expect traffic to come flying through parked cars. Sounds like you both handled it well, hopefully things will resolve themselves without too much frustration.
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  10. #10
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    heres what I understand.

    Traffic was stopped.
    He was splitting lanes through the stopped traffic.
    A car was trying to get from a side street across to arbies through the traffic.
    The other cars left a gap at the side street as opposed to blocking it as they should.
    The car pulls out into the gap since traffic was stopped.
    OP hits car.

  11. #11
    dutret has a posse ryand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kemmer View Post
    get drunk, ride a scooter, don't steal your girlfriends bike back, get laid anyway, post about it on the internets.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryand
    Unless he plans on living a car free lifestyle he should not avail himself of it if possible. Having an accident on your record will cost you more then then the hundreds of dollars it would cost to pay for the guys repairs and his own bike.

  13. #13
    dutret has a posse ryand's Avatar
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    I was just saying they do have it in response to:
    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk
    many states have what's called No Fault insurance laws - you should check to see if yours does. basically, it means that it doesn't matter who's at fault. the Automobile insurance will cover it.
    Quote Originally Posted by kemmer View Post
    get drunk, ride a scooter, don't steal your girlfriends bike back, get laid anyway, post about it on the internets.

  14. #14
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    since the OP wasn't in a car, i don't think this involves the OP's auto insurance. i don't think it involves discussions of who was at fault or whether or not the OP was riding illegally.

    I believe all this involves is the driver's auto insurance covering the damage under the No Fault dealie.

    I could be wrong - perhaps there is a local bike advocacy group that could help you through it? Or people who have dealt with it firsthand?
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    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk
    since the OP wasn't in a car, i don't think this involves the OP's auto insurance. i don't think it involves discussions of who was at fault or whether or not the OP was riding illegally.

    I believe all this involves is the driver's auto insurance covering the damage under the No Fault dealie.

    I could be wrong - perhaps there is a local bike advocacy group that could help you through it? Or people who have dealt with it firsthand?
    There was another thread about this yesterday. In NY your insurance covers you no matter what you are doing. The other drivers insurance only matters if you are uninsured. What happens since he is from out of state and probably has liability insurance not no fault I don't know.

  16. #16
    laterally compliant keevohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacked
    The cars were stopped and letting him through, I imagine. This is what they should be doing.
    Exactly. I'm assuming there was a gap in the three lanes that would let a car in or out of the Arby's parking lot. Traffic was not moving.

    I contacted my auto insurance agent (a guy I really respect and trust) to get his perspective. His advice is that I should contact the driver and tell him to file a claim with his insurance. He didn't think I should/could file a claim with my auto insurance, because I wasn't operating a 'vehicle' at the time of the accident. Bikes are not mentioned as vehicles anywhere in my policy. He said there was a possibility that the driver's insurance could come after me for compensation. If that happened, he would file a claim with my insurance to try and limit my financial liability (ie. paying a deductible vs. paying the full cost of repairs).

    Regardless, I will be filing an ancillary police report this afternoon to get my version of the story on record. Also, I'm fine with the idea of eating the cost of my bike repairs because my gut says that I have some fault in this situation. However, I do not believe I was at fault to such a degree that I should cover both parties' full expenses.

  17. #17
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    Looking through the link to PA state laws regarding bicycling, I don't see anything about lane-splitting, either allowing it (which some states do for bicycles and motorcycles) or specifically forbidding it. However, there is the usual bit (present in most state and/or local laws) about riding as near to the right side as practicable except when overtaking, or on the left side on a one-way street. I could imagine an argument being made that you were overtaking all the stopped traffic, but it's far-fetched. I'm guessing it would probably be up to any police officer examining the scene of the accident, but the Burgh's finest declined your invitation, leaving you in the dark. However, since you were moving in the same direction as traffic, and since he was pulling into traffic (or perhaps across, I'm not sure), it could be argued that he failed to make sure it was safe to enter the street.

    I guess it's up to the driver's insurance company, and they don't usually like to just throw their hands up and call it their insured's fault. Good luck, and I'll see you in a few months when I move back to Pgh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkmike
    I guess it's up to the driver's insurance company, and they don't usually like to just throw their hands up and call it their insured's fault.
    which is precisely why no fault insurance exists.

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    Since PA allows drivers to choose either no-fault or personal injury protection policies, the variable we're missing here is whether the driver in Keevohn's accident is a fan of the whole no-fault thing. Also, I wonder if he has a glass replacement rider on his policy, which (in my admittedly limited experience) is usually a no-questions claims process. As in, "Oh, your windshield broke? Okay, we'll send someone out."

  20. #20
    Walks with a limp dijos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dutret
    which is precisely why no fault insurance exists.
    +1

    no fault means that your Insurance co takes care of you, the other guy's insurance takes care of him, no matter who was at fault in the accident. This applies to car accidents, though. In this case, his car damage would be covered by his own insurance company, and you're responsible for your damage to yourself and/or your property. I am not getting into uninsured motorist insurance in this case.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member filtersweep's Avatar
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    No fault typically only covers personal injuries, not property damage-- like bikes or cars. No fault will not help the bike rider at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk
    (not from personal experience, but from understanding of the process)

    many states have what's called No Fault insurance laws - you should check to see if yours does. basically, it means that it doesn't matter who's at fault. the Automobile insurance will cover it.

    you should consider filing an accident report with the police (i'm confused why the police didn't come to do just that) - it pretty much is an official record of the accident, which you'll find helpful if/when you involve insurance companies.

    it seems like what should happen under No Fault is that you both get compensation for damages from the driver's auto insurance. and i think you should be compensated. it's what insurance is for. if the state does indeed have No Fault laws, call the insurance company and request a No Fault application.

    you're going to need to take the bike to a bike shop and have them professionally asses the cost of repair and replacement (a new fork, a new rim/spokes/nipples/wheelbuild, and labor, it sounds like). you'd include that in your application for compensation to the insurance company.

  22. #22
    Crapzeit! mcatano's Avatar
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    Was this a "T" intersection between the main street and the side street, or a regular 4-way? If it was a T-style and he was crossing three lanes of one way traffic to get to a parking lot on the other side, that might put him somewhat at fault. Here, at least, you always have to go left or right at T intersections, even if there is a driveway or parking lot facing the sidestreet.

  23. #23
    laterally compliant keevohn's Avatar
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    Strangely enough, I can't file a police report for this incident. I was told by the local police bureau that because the car was 'drivable' (ie. wasn't towed) and there were no bodily injuries (ie. nobody went to the hospital), the police don't get involved. It's treated the same way as a two-auto accident in which nobody gets towed or goes to the hospital: both parties exchange information and let their insurance companies duke it out. Apparently PA insurance agencies are aware of this.

    Does that mean I'm screwed? Because I can't file a police report or a claim with my auto insurance, I'm at the mercy of the driver's version of the story and his insurance company's adjuster. I can contact the witness and have her record her recollection of the events, but there doesn't seem to be any outlet for my take on things. Not that I would be looking to spin things in any way, but I'd be much more comfortable knowing my perspective is represented.

  24. #24
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keevohn
    By the time I saw him he was a couple of feet in front of me and I had no time to react. My front wheel struck his left front fender, sending me over the bars and onto his hood, where my body rolled up into his windshield (smashing it) and then down his hood onto the ground.
    I'm having a hard time visualizing this.

  25. #25
    laterally compliant keevohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcatano
    Was this a "T" intersection between the main street and the side street, or a regular 4-way? If it was a T-style and he was crossing three lanes of one way traffic to get to a parking lot on the other side, that might put him somewhat at fault. Here, at least, you always have to go left or right at T intersections, even if there is a driveway or parking lot facing the sidestreet.
    Yes, the street he was coming from (Coltart Ave) forms a T intersection with the main road (Forbes Ave) on which I was riding. However, the entrance to the Arby's parking lot is directly across the main road from the side street, so in effect it forms a 4-way intersection. Here's a crude map:


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