This is not tandem specific but I'm familiar with you guys so here goes:
A co-worker with whom I frequently do lunchtime rides with got hit by a car commuting home from work. He had the green light through an intersection & a teenage driver turned left in front of him. Lots of witnesses & the driver got the ticket. This was an accident. The driver was really shaken up. Fortunately, Jon walked away from the accident without any serious injuries. The back of his helmet hit the windshield & smashed the windshield. His bike was totaled.
He & the driver were both insured by the same very large, nation-wide insurance company. When he contacted the company to make a claim for his bike, they wanted him to make a claim against HIS HOMEOWNER'S insurance with $1000 deductible.
This is outrageous. This company will have to pay regardless of fault & should be very thankful that he is only seeking to get his $4000 bike replaced instead of making a multi-hundred thousand dollar injury claim.
The police faulted the driver yet the company wants the victim to pay up.
Why do they do this? How much energy & ill will are they prepared to expend to avoid a relatively minor claim? Do insurance companies secretly love attorneys?
I didn't use to have a negative attitude against insurance companies but when I hear stories like this, it seems like they deserve the reputation they create.
I'm just guessing here based on past stories from accident victims, but I believe if he pursues it against the 17-year old's policy he will have tons of leverage given that he was a victim of an inexperienced driver cited by the police with a moving violation. Those types of claims can get very expensive and, frankly, they should. Everyone likes to say "they weren't hurt" after being hit by a car, but more times than they're in denial or haven't fully assessed the extent of the impact.
If he uses his homeowner's policy, he'll be lucky to get replacement value and has no leverage to pursue other compensation for intangibles like pain and suffering, etc...
If it was me, I'd ask my agent who my attorney should call... I say this as someone who has been hit 3 times in my life, back in my 20's and late 30's, but who also "walked away". Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) my bikes weren't damaged beyond the wheels or paint and I wasn't smart enough to pursue claims. I was just "glad" I wasn't hurt and was able to fix my tires/wheels and get my butt back home and that was that. Hindsight is 20/20. It's not about greed or making a point, it's about getting fair compensation when you are the victim of someone else's negligence. Accidents can and do happen, but collisions are usually someone's fault and those at fault should always be held accountable (period).
Tandem Content: We know way too many couples that have been hit by negligent motorists. Being hit while riding a tandem is truly a horrible situation because, chances are, your emergency contact and built-in primary care provider is sitting with you on your bike. If you're both injured, then who comes to your side, who handles the household chores, and what about work? Just something to keep in mind in terms of your family emergency plans and, well, things like your will. Being together on the bike is a great thing, but it comes with some unique risks that single bike riders don't have to think about.
The Cascade Bicycle Club message board has a thread running on this topic; about a screen-height down is a good list of things to do (and there's a link to another list from someone in Portland, Oregon in one of the postings as well):
Unless there is something in his homeowner's policy which says that in case of an accident with another person insured by the same company, the company gets to decide which policy to pay from, there is absolutely no reason to use the homeowner's policy.
If there's a bike club in your area, and especially if he is a member, they may have a few names of attornies who have experience in this field.
Rans Enduro Sport, Hase Kettweisel Tandem, Merin Bear Valley beater bike
I suspect that the claims adjuster's performance apprasial has a catagory for dollars expended but not for public relations issues. What does he care if the OP is happy or not?
Relative to filing a legal suit, this falls into an inconvenient size catagory. The difference between the $3,000 offer and the $4,000 replacement cost might be a lot of money to you and me, but if you're talking about getting an attorney, it's peanuts. Worse yet, an attorney is going to take 1/3 off the top of the entire $4,000 settlement (assuming that you win). Hello! Your $3,000 low-ball offer has now shrunk to $2,668 but at least you have the satisfaction of knowing that you beat the insurance company in court.
Last edited by Retro Grouch; 10-05-07 at 10:04 AM.
Fortunately, I rarely have had to deal w/insurance companies. However, several decades ago I was slightly injured in an auto accident where someone else's insurance paid. Before I received a settlement, I had to sign a waiver of future claims.
If an insurance company balks too much on paying a claim, the liklihood of delayed aches & pains increases - legitimate or not.
I'm In agreement with Tandem Geek ... ask who your lawyer should call. Also, include a call to the teens parent who are most likely the owners of the car and the policy, telling them the insurance carrier is giving you a problem so you are contacting a lawyer. This is always a wake up call for parents and insurers.
The insurance company is playing the "offer the least and see if the sucker bites" tactic. Same reason why covered procedures in your health insurance are denied only to be covered if you take it to a higer level. I never believe this to be the case until a friend who works for an insurance company told me this was standard practice in the business.
if you shop for homeowner insurance,one of the first questions they ask is: have you filed a claim in the last x years?if you answer yes,they either won't write you,or you will pay much higher premiums.
Sadly,I fear playing hardball is the only safe way to go.I would also take an ambulance ride to the ER because sometimes things go bad in the following days/weeks.
In some areas (we hear this even from "bike-friendly" Seattle) the police are slow to respond and create an accident report if it's just a bent bike wheel, whatever.
However, if there is any injury in the accident, they have to respond. Your state's laws may vary, but if you're at all scraped up, when you place that 9-1-1 call, report it as an injury accident. You will want to have an accident report on-hand.
Lots of other good advice in that CBC link, and also probably under the "Advocacy and Safety" heading here.
Been hit 4 times while on a bike. Twice on a single, twice on a tandem. Each time drivers were ticketed.
Each time the car inbsurer paid. Sometimes quickly, sometimes reluctantly.
Never did hire an attorney but did threaten to and payment was expetited!
One insurance company dragged things out for almost a year; went through about 4 different claim adjusters. The last adjuster said "you did not get hurt" so showed him color photos of me bare-assed with the huge purple bruises from butt to shoulder. Still they would not pay pay. So called the company and said I was hiring an attorney. Their answer: 'know that that will cost you?' My answer, 'know what that will cost YOU? Limits of policy is $30,000" Their answer ' . . . and attorney will take half.' My answer: "you don't understand do you. I'm mad and sick and tired of your run-around and I'll gladly give him three-fourths'.
Check was in the mail the next week.
If there is a next time, and we live through it again, an attorney will be on the top of my list to save me a lot of aggravation!
Be safe out there, them cars/trucks are bigger than us!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
Here's what I would do if I were you. First I would get a copy of the police report, make sure the other driver was cited. Second contact the other insurance carrier and speak with the adjuster again. Ask him to accept responsibility for the accident and explain that you want reimbursement for your property damage (ex helmet and bicycle). If adjuster stone walls you ask to speak with his supervisor. If that doesn't work send a letter to the insurance company with claim number making a demand for your property damage, make sure to cc department of insurance for your state (can find contact info via google). I would then give the insurance company a couple weeks to respond, then call the adjuster one more time. If you are still not getting the response you need then contact the department of insurance and ask to start a complaint file so they can investigate the unfairness. If that still doesn't work I would consider filing a small claim, depending of course on your damages sustained, ie less than $5,000. You'll definitely win in small claims based on what you're telling me. If damages more than that I would then contact an attorney. But I'd definitely do everything else first.
If he was driving against the flow of traffic that would be the only argument against your case. From what you're telling me he was driving with the flow of traffic and is treated the same as any other vehicle. Basically the other vehicle failed to yield causing the damages.