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A few basic legal questions

Old 01-08-07, 03:49 PM
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ink1373
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A few basic legal questions

I was involved in a road-rage type hit-and-run recently.

I'm not too law-savvy, but I've been reading up a bit. I still need some help clearing up some basic stuff. I'm ready to make a claim against the drivers insurance company for damage to the bike, my helmet, and clothing.

I have no health insurance, so I didn't take the ambulance ride. I sustained some nasty bruises on my knees and hip, a broken rib, and what has turned out to be a pretty severe sprain in my thumb (which makes life as a bike mechanic a lot less fun).

Will the driver's insurance company pay anything for injuries not associated with a hospital bill? Am I right in assuming that pain-and-suffering compensation will necessitate a civil lawsuit?

and perhaps most importantly, any tips from those who have been there?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 01-08-07, 03:52 PM
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To clarify, the driver hit me deliberately and fled. I'm not sure what kind of effect that will have on how I should proceed.
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Old 01-08-07, 04:13 PM
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You need a lawyer.

Hit and run? Got his license? If he's got insurance, you're in luck. Press charges ASAP.
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Old 01-08-07, 04:15 PM
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If the driver hit you deliberately and fled, then that is assault with a deadly weapon, coupled with hit and run. Criminal charges should be involved.

You should speak to a lawyer, and also to doctors and bike mechanics to document all damages for possible pursuit of civil claims.
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Old 01-08-07, 04:22 PM
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Please tell me there is a police report..
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Old 01-08-07, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by lima_bean
Please tell me there is a police report..
Right. I think if you didn't immediately report it and have the cops file a report, you're pretty much screwed. You should check to make sure though.
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Old 01-08-07, 04:32 PM
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Yes, I have a police report, "accident" report, and the driver was insured, and I have their policy information.

The main thing is that I'm not a fan of the way the legal system works. I'm not interested in ruining this person's life, I just want to get a fair amount. I'd like to avoid a civil suit if possible, but given that I didn't rack up any hospital bills, I worry that I won't be able to get much out of the insurance company, and would be forced to undertake a civil suit in order to get anything beyond the cost of bike parts, etc.

So, is that pretty much how it goes, or do insurance companies sometimes pay for more than strictly tangible damages?

Again, I'm not interested in pushing the dominoes on this person. They made a pretty grotesque lapse in judgement, but I don't need the guilt of messing up their life in this way.
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Old 01-08-07, 04:41 PM
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What you want to push for (with at least a lawyer consult) is an out of court settlement. If what you want is truly fair and just, then it would be in their interest to just pay you and leave the jury cr@pshoot out of it.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 01-08-07 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 01-08-07, 04:42 PM
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A nudge and I'm taking appropriate payments. A deliberate hit & run and I'm filing charges and getting the most ruthless attorney I can find.

How much has this idiot messed your life up due to his "lapse in judgment"?
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Old 01-08-07, 04:44 PM
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The one time that I was hit with witnesses and had all the information the insurance company basically told me this is what we are willing to pay. As in your case I only had bike damage no physical damage. I would first talk to the drivers insurance and see what they say, depending on what they are willing to pay go from there if you need more compensation for parts.
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Old 01-08-07, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by eubi
You need a lawyer.
Lawyers don't want anypart of collision cases without big injury. cuts ,bruises & booboo's is not big injury.
Could get a consultation though.

Last edited by Big_knob; 01-08-07 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 01-08-07, 04:50 PM
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You'll have to get a lawyer to push the issue with the ins. co., because by yourself they will ignore you. Call a few lawyers in your area.
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Old 01-08-07, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Wurm
You'll have to get a lawyer to push the issue with the ins. co., because by yourself they will ignore you. Call a few lawyers in your area.
NOt neccessarily, they may try to give a "jew" settlement or something of the nature & try procrastination. they WILL pay if court judgement says to do so.
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Old 01-08-07, 04:57 PM
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Just don't be snaked by the claim adjusters.
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Old 01-08-07, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Big_knob
Just don't be snaked by the claim adjusters.
Concur.

List all of your incidental and other expenses associated with the incident, plus lost wages, etc. Have that thumb checked out by a medical professional. Customary pain-and-suffering compensation runs about 3 times actual medical payments for nonpermanent injuries.
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Old 01-08-07, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Big_knob
they WILL pay if court judgement says to do so.
That's why I said "call a lawyer".
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Old 01-08-07, 05:16 PM
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so if I come to your house and kick your ass all you'll want in return is to be compensated for the cost of a few bandaids and cottonballs to stop the nosebleed?
seriously man, if you let him get away with it, then he'll have no reason to NOT do it again to someone else
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Old 01-08-07, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Wurm
That's why I said "call a lawyer".
Whatever
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Old 01-08-07, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Big_knob
NOt neccessarily, they may try to give a "jew" settlement or something of the nature & try procrastination. they WILL pay if court judgement says to do so.
I find this somewhat offensive. Antisemitism, even in quotation marks, is not cool.
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Old 01-08-07, 05:28 PM
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A few thoughts here.

1) Without significant medical bills, you are probably going to have a hard time getting a lawyer interested in this case. It simply does not make economic sense to the lawyer to take it on a contigency fee basis and it does not make ecnomic sense for you to hire one on an hourly fee basis.

2) That does not mean your are SOL. Does your state have small claims courts, ones where the parties represent themselves (like on People's Court) and there is a cap on the amount of damages that can be awarded? It probably does, but I am not sure about Minnesota. I also do not know about the dollar upper limit there - somewhere in the general neighborhood is $5,000, I believe. Find out. Unless your damages are significantly higher than the small claims maximum, suing in small claims court is your ultimate leverage, because neither you nor the driving menace will be able to have a lawyer present, thus evening the playing field. For help with figuring out small claims court, call your local courthouse and ask if there is a public law library there. (There's a good chance there is.) Call them and ask if they have any books to guide you through the small claims court process. Then, go read it. If this doesn't pan out, go to you rlocal regular library and ask the reference librarian for help finding books on small claims courts in Minnesota. (Reference librarians live to help people find stuff like this.) Then read whe he/she finds for you. Do this before you settle with the insurance company, and do it real soon. Your best chance of not having to litigate is to know how to do it and thereby sound like you cannot be intimidated by an insurance adjuster trying to low-ball you.

Oh, if Minnesota law is like California law, I do not believe there is no reason why "pain and suffering" cannot be compensated in a negotiated settlement.

3) Do not agree to a settlement figure from the insurance company until you are certain there will not be any future medical costs from this incident. (It is not an "accident," and don't let them call it an accident. By running away in voiolation of the law, this clod turned this into an intentional bad act.) Once you agree to settle and have signed a release, you cannot revisit the settlement unless you can show that the other side committed fraud in inducing you into settling, and even then you may not be able to.

If your thumb or your rib has not healed, don't settle yet - there may future surgery involved, and this @$$hole should bear the cost. My following suggestion concerning negotiating with the insurance company once you are certain you will not have significant future medical costs.

In any event, my best guesstimate of the minimum of what you should settle for is double your total "hard" damages. In other words, take the cost to repair/replace your bike, any medical costs incurred, any pay lost at work because of the incident, and any other out-of-pockets you have paid or will have to pay because of the incident, and multiply it by two to cover the pain and suffering. For negotiating purposes, start at the higher of (1) the maximum you can get in small claims or (2) triple your hard damages, and negotiate down from there. Don't be afraid to remind the insurer that the guy committed a hit-and-run. And don't be intimidated into going below your "drop dead" price. If you are not prepared to walk away from a bad deal and take them to court, they will roll you up like a rug.

4) Please, please, please stop worrying about "ruining" this guy's life. He does not deserve your concern. He hit you, and then he ran away from his responsibilities - responsibilities that anyone who ever took a driving test knows about. He committed a crime, a crime that hurt you. Whatever happens to this guy, financially or criminally (I only wish), he did it to himself - you did not do it to him. He did not show you any concern, and I can assure you that the insurance company could not care less about you beyond trying to buy you off as cheaply as possible. This is not being mean-spirited, it is simply being realistic. You absolutely have to look out for your own welfare here, because Lord knows no one on the other side will do so.

Good luck with this. I am glad you did not suffer worse loss than you have. And do not let this guy off the hook too cheaply.
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Old 01-08-07, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by barba
I find this somewhat offensive. Antisemitism, even in quotation marks, is not cool.
Well pard me your hainous. I have been using the term for years & not about to change my terminology for anything or anyone.
Used to be a car dealership around here called C Louie Jew & was forced to change name. but i am a private self sufficient enterprise......
Besides they are nothing but words.
that is the the beauty of the "freeworld".
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Old 01-08-07, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer
A few thoughts here.

Oh, if Minnesota law is like California law, I do not believe there is no reason why "pain and suffering" cannot be compensated in a negotiated settlement.

3) Do not agree to a settlement figure from the insurance company until you are certain there will not be any future medical costs from this incident. (It is not an "accident," and don't let them call it an accident. By running away in voiolation of the law, this clod turned this into an intentional bad act.) Once you agree to settle and have signed a release, you cannot revisit the settlement unless you can show that the other side committed fraud in inducing you into settling, and even then you may not be able to.
Quite right a settlement can be pretty much whatever the parties agree to.

As to it not being an accident, that is why the insurance company is not on the hook for 'pain and suffering'. At least in California they are not only not required they are NOT ALLOWED to cover punative damages, which is what you will be trying for under the idea that this was an intentional act.
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Old 01-08-07, 05:55 PM
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I'm definitely interested in getting my thumb checked out (possibly knees, too. they've been unhappy.), but I'm pretty scared about getting stuck with the bill somehow. Will the insurance company pay for future medical expenses, or do I have to make the blind leap and hope they'll cover it after the doctor visit?
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Old 01-08-07, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ink1373
I'm definitely interested in getting my thumb checked out (possibly knees, too. they've been unhappy.), but I'm pretty scared about getting stuck with the bill somehow. Will the insurance company pay for future medical expenses, or do I have to make the blind leap and hope they'll cover it after the doctor visit?
Is there any kind of place in your community where people without much money can get some basic legal advice? The longer you wait after the accident to get injuries checked out you are likely to get more static from the insurance company. It seems like you have as good a case here as you could ask, especially since the injury to your thumb has some impact on your work (bike mech, right?). I would get it looked at, as it would suck if you end up with permanent injuries due to a hit and run and miss your chance to have them taken care of.
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Old 01-08-07, 06:21 PM
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My own take: One more time, you need a lawyer. You cannot do this alone, without a working knowledge of the law and legal system.

Do some searching, and find a attorney in your area who is also a cyclist.

I don't how these things are handled in MN, but in Massachusetts, leaving the scene of an accident that involves a personal injury, to even the slightest degree, (even if it's a scraped elbow) is a criminal motor vehicle violation.

As others have already advised though, be cautious. This motorist will also have an attorney.
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