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Determining how much to go for after a dog-bike accident

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Determining how much to go for after a dog-bike accident

Old 08-28-08, 01:57 PM
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Determining how much to go for after a dog-bike accident

You PI attorneys out there familiar with dog-bike interactions resulting in injury. How do you figure out how much to ask for in your complaints? A year off a bike, a couple of surgeries, a few tens of thousands in medical. But how about pain and suffering, loss of consortium etc? Any typical rules other than attempting to max out the defendant's insurance coverage?
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Old 08-28-08, 02:04 PM
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If you have tens of thousands in medicals, undergone multiple surgeries, and have been unable to ride you bike, or your wife (the consortium reference) for a year. You need more than the draft your own lawsuit at home kit.

Get competent representation in your jurisdiction.
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Old 08-28-08, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
You PI attorneys out there familiar with dog-bike interactions resulting in injury. How do you figure out how much to ask for in your complaints? A year off a bike, a couple of surgeries, a few tens of thousands in medical. But how about pain and suffering, loss of consortium etc? Any typical rules other than attempting to max out the defendant's insurance coverage?
I got hit by a car back in '07. It resulted in an ambulance ride, a hospital visit (emergency room only), about 20 or so stitches, and some residual physical therapy. I was pretty beat up and cut up, but didn't break any bones.

The bike was totalled, and I was unable to ride for over a month.

The insurance settlement paid for the bike and clothing, all med bills (around $15,000), lost time at work, and about $12,000 for "contingencies, pain and suffering". This was settled up without lawyers getting involved (though I did consult with a bicycling attorney friend of mine who indicated that he thought he could get more, but that it was a reasonable offer).


For a year off the bike, plus your other issues, I'd expect at least $25,000.
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Old 08-28-08, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
If you have tens of thousands in medicals, undergone multiple surgeries, and have been unable to ride you bike, or your wife (the consortium reference) for a year. You need more than the draft your own lawsuit at home kit.

Get competent representation in your jurisdiction.
ding ding ding.

madovoodoo, you are an insurance company litigator's dream plaintiff. Get an atty or you'll be wishing you had for years.
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Old 08-28-08, 02:19 PM
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There's competent representation. I'm just wondering about getting to the $$$. If there's a standard process - I know the insurance companies have some kind of program or something - or if it's all or part gut feel. These mixed rural/small town/suburban communities might present jury award problems, too. $10,000, $100,000, and $500,000 all look very different to different folks. A guy in a trailer on a hill in the countryside might think $30,000 is a lot of money while the executive at Nippondenso might consider that not quite pocket change.
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Old 08-28-08, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
There's competent representation. .

Then trust the person you've chosen to represent you. They have the medical records, photographs, the opportunity to speak to you in detail about your injury in a manner that could never be as complete on a forum, as well as knowledge of the local jurisdiction.

No lawyer, with any sense is going to second guess your attorney from a 3 line description on a forum

And extrapolating from posts like I got X when I had my accident, is next to worthless, because of the vast potential for dissimilarities.

I repeat again, talk to your own lawyer.
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Old 08-28-08, 03:20 PM
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See, there we go, looking at THE CASE. I'm not going to second guess the attorney involved. I haven't provided any details about the case other than it's a dog - bike case. Specifically a dog attack on a public highway, not uncommon, in a comparative fault state with an "at large" statute creating what sounds like strict liability to me. And I got to read the complaint. The complaint is, I believe, public record at this point.

I asked about THE PROCESS. Out of curiosity. As a scientist, I'd look at the various aspects. Medical. Property. Lost wages. Associated costs (e.g., car mileage to doctors). That's pretty clear stuff. The parts not nearly as obvious to me are punitive damages and this obscure pain and suffering stuff. I've gotten a number of responses to this question, all rather ad hoc sounding to me. From X * the medical (apparently very old school) to figuring out the maximum insurance payout and making that a target. All seem to look at the context rather than examining the actual loss. That's a viable way to do things, but somewhat disconnected from the event and damage. Shouldn't be surprising - much of law seems to rightly be about process and rather disconnected from the facts of any particular case.

In fact, I wouldn't post facts on somebody else's case (or my own, for that matter) on a forum somewhere. But I would post a general question about process, as I have done.

Does the bicycle/dog aspect play into things? I can see a jury thinking "Well, I have a dog and I don't have it on a lead all the time. I didn't even know there was a law." That might lead to some discounting. If there's a general anti-bike sentiment (which there might be based on my experiences showing up at places on a bicycle) then having it be a dog (everybody loves dogs) v. bicycle (the jerks, stay on the sidewalk) might factor in.
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Old 08-28-08, 03:33 PM
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The problem is, it isn't science, and there's no formula. One traditional approach you'll here is 3 times specials. (specials being the economic damages.) Problem is this formula can be exceedingly misleading.

A guy with a leg amputated but on $1,000 in meds, 3x specials grossly undercompensates, A guy with $20,000 in mostly diagnostics (repeated unecessary MRI's) and chiro treatment for a soft tissue injury with no residual is grossly over compensated by 3x specials.

So the process is you look at all the facts, evaluate them, and come to a reasoned judgement based upon experience, knowledge as to what other cases have settled for involving similar facts in the same jurisdiction, an educated guess as to what a jury might do with the case if it proceeded ultimately to trial, and the cost of getting to that point.

It's not something that be can be reduced to a formula, or discussed in a vaccuum, without considering the underlying facts, or divorced from the jurisdiction involved.

So, the answer again is talk to the lawyer you've chosen.
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Old 08-28-08, 04:25 PM
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Well, talking to an attorney is what happened, although I'm only involved in a glancing way in this case, enough to be OK with asking the attorney questions in confidence.

I'll say that again; this is NOT me v. a dog owner. It's somebody else v. a dog owner. There's actually a couple of similar cases people keep asking me about. So that just got my curiosity up. Talking to this attorney about the process wasn't particularly informative - more of a "wing it" approach - which isn't necessarily bad. But gives me relatively little to go on. I know I'll eventually get the "what do you think, is their offer enough?" sounding board question. That I have no idea how to answer! Other than "Does it feel OK to you?" Which has me feeling too much like Dr. Phil looks!!

Now if I could just get that spreadsheet figured out!

I suppose there are complaints to look at and results, where the thing went to trial, but that seems very rare. I'm expecting that some magical negotiations will occur and then some kind of number will get arrived at. It's not a number that will end up on a check written to me! Then again, it could all be recorded and figured out and guessed at and available for a price.
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Old 08-28-08, 07:17 PM
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One of the common risks of riding a bicycle is getting attacked by a dog. If adequately prepared it's unlikely you'd get seriously injured. If you weren't prepared you should sue yourself.

If people keep up with these frivolous lawsuits we can kiss cycling goodbye.
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Old 08-28-08, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by phinney View Post
One of the common risks of riding a bicycle is getting attacked by a dog. If adequately prepared it's unlikely you'd get seriously injured. If you weren't prepared you should sue yourself.

If people keep up with these frivolous lawsuits we can kiss cycling goodbye.
Bullsh*t. Even if you're prepared, a loose dog can easily take down a cyclist, resulting in serious injury.

A lawsuit or insurance settlement to recoup the costs of this kind of encounter are hardly "frivolous".

And how could such a settlement possibly cause us to "kiss cycling goodbye"??? Lawsuits involved in driving accidents certainly haven't caused us to "kiss driving goodbye".
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Old 08-28-08, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by phinney View Post
One of the common risks of riding a bicycle is getting attacked by a dog. If adequately prepared it's unlikely you'd get seriously injured. If you weren't prepared you should sue yourself.

If people keep up with these frivolous lawsuits we can kiss cycling goodbye.

sorry but I disagree based on personal experience. I hit a dog on a downhill that shot out of bushes off of an embankment. there was no way I could have been prepared for that. I didn't see him (black lab) or hear him until we were a tumbling mass getting simultaneous road rash on the pavement.

Despite my injuries I did not sue, did not settle. The dog owner helped me get cleaned up, offered to shoot the dog (I declined the offer) and off I went.

But "adequately prepared"? I don't know- not in every circumstance.
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Old 08-28-08, 10:14 PM
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phinney, you need to take your next tax return and buy a clue! Nothing frivolous here, pal! So troll somewhere else!

mando, theoretical civil cases are a penny a million; why bother trying to guesstimate for someone else? Ease your mind, and let others figure out their own mess.
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Old 08-29-08, 01:35 AM
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Just get a lawyer and get as much as you can. Yay, money!
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Old 08-29-08, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
Well, talking to an attorney is what happened, although I'm only involved in a glancing way in this case, enough to be OK with asking the attorney questions in confidence.

I'll say that again; this is NOT me v. a dog owner. It's somebody else v. a dog owner. There's actually a couple of similar cases people keep asking me about. So that just got my curiosity up. Talking to this attorney about the process wasn't particularly informative - more of a "wing it" approach - which isn't necessarily bad. But gives me relatively little to go on. I know I'll eventually get the "what do you think, is their offer enough?" sounding board question. That I have no idea how to answer! Other than "Does it feel OK to you?" Which has me feeling too much like Dr. Phil looks!!

Now if I could just get that spreadsheet figured out!

I suppose there are complaints to look at and results, where the thing went to trial, but that seems very rare. I'm expecting that some magical negotiations will occur and then some kind of number will get arrived at. It's not a number that will end up on a check written to me! Then again, it could all be recorded and figured out and guessed at and available for a price.
I believe punitive damages are decided on an individual basis by determining the extent the incident affected their life. If you get someone who is only concerned about compensation for expenses and they'd really rather just get on with their life there may be no punitive damages at all. On the other hand, the sky's the limit for someone deeply traumatized who can successfully convey the extent of their pain and suffering to a judge or jury.

The "wing it" approach sounds about as good as it gets for gauging punitive damages since it revolves around each individual and not necessarily precedent.

That's my half-ass armchair lawyer viewpoint anyway.
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Old 08-29-08, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
You PI attorneys out there familiar with dog-bike interactions resulting in injury. How do you figure out how much to ask for in your complaints? A year off a bike, a couple of surgeries, a few tens of thousands in medical. But how about pain and suffering, loss of consortium etc? Any typical rules other than attempting to max out the defendant's insurance coverage?
Short answer: medical bills X3/2. This gets you to the ballpark figures used for negotiation, with the remainder split evenly between between the lawyer(s) and patient/plantiff(s).

Longer answer: the above doesn't apply that well anymore in a country with more lawyers/whatever than any other country, with an insurance industry seeking to maximize quarterly profits at any cost (seen Sicko?) and the worlds most expensive (but nowhere near the most effective) medical care. This gives both sides the ability to bring in different expert witnesses and use expensive tests (often done by firms with financial ties to the expert witnesses) that contradict the others sides evidence. The higher costs don't always mean higher settlements.

Advice that hasn't been mentioned elsewhere: Check the costs before settling. It's not uncommon for lawyers to ask the medical providers to take less in the settlement, and some will do so thinking the money is being passed on the patient. The money may not be passed on, but asking the lawyers how much they are going to discount their fee usually gets a rise out of them. That's for the other guy, not them!
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Old 08-29-08, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by phinney View Post
One of the common risks of riding a bicycle is getting attacked by a dog. If adequately prepared it's unlikely you'd get seriously injured. If you weren't prepared you should sue yourself.

If people keep up with these frivolous lawsuits we can kiss cycling goodbye.
My dear fellow, you're quite the expert.

One of the incidents I'm familiar with involved two skilled cyclists enjoying an attack from cover. Centerline position of the cyclists was a measured 23 ft from the cover. The dog ran full tilt from cover without warning heading for the lead cyclist. The trailing cyclist made it to the far side of the pavement adjacent to a dropoff, ditch, and barbed wire while maintaining speed. Impact was within a couple of seconds at most of the dog appearing and was to the extreme rear of the rear wheel, bending the wheel beyond repair and tossing the rear end of the bicycle up to about waist level, tossing the rider face first into the roadway.

Tell me, Expert, how one can prepare for an attack like this? These cyclists are, of course, dog people and virtually never have any trouble with the usual dogs. Also, the state has an "at large" law in place making a dog owner - very broadly defined - essentially strictly liable for any damage done. There's also a criminal component.

I contend that you're off base for most states and completely off base for any state with an "at large" prohibition.

While cyclists need to be prepared for encounters with dogs - and most of that is simply figuring out an appropriate strategy for the various dogs one sees, and their owners - they cannot be armed for all encounters. A determined silent attack from cover can't really be accommodated in planning. Determined attacks or encounters while climbing steep hills are also difficult to deal with if the animal is persistent. And most cyclists aren't really equipped to handle truly vicious dogs. There are a few of those out there. When prepared cyclists very familiar with dogs get hurt, it isn't their fault as you suggest. One incident comes to mind where a dog trainer cyclist was hurt. Here's someone who knows how dogs work, how to defuse situations, how to work with strange dogs, unable to thwart a determined attack.

Now go lick your wounds like a good boy.
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Old 08-29-08, 10:38 AM
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Judge Judy rules on cyclist vs dog owners.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p12x52UzJsc
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Old 08-29-08, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Recycle View Post
Judge Judy rules on cyclist vs dog owners.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p12x52UzJsc
That video is great.
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Old 08-29-08, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by phinney View Post
One of the common risks of riding a bicycle is getting attacked by a dog. If adequately prepared it's unlikely you'd get seriously injured. If you weren't prepared you should sue yourself.

If people keep up with these frivolous lawsuits we can kiss cycling goodbye.
lolzer On August 28 of 2008 this was was the internets lowest point
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Old 08-29-08, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
Well, talking to an attorney is what happened, although I'm only involved in a glancing way in this case, enough to be OK with asking the attorney questions in confidence.
I concur with the previous poster that you shouldn't get involved. Especially if it turns out that you asking the attorney questions is billable.



Originally Posted by mandovoodo
I know I'll eventually get the "what do you think, is their offer enough?" sounding board question. That I have no idea how to answer! Other than "Does it feel OK to you?" Which has me feeling too much like Dr. Phil looks!!

Now if I could just get that spreadsheet figured out!
You can't. There is no pre-determined formula here. Cost of living, extent of damages, what type of action, how much culpability is assignable to the dog, whatever -- there are too many variables.

The real question is, what number meets the dual qualifications of "what the victim will accept as compensation" and "what the insurance company is willing to pay." That number will vary from case to case.

Even in criminal cases, there is usually a lot of latitude; many judges dislike mandatory sentencing, which assigns a specific punishment to specific crimes.


The only advice that's worth giving your friend is to read this article, which explains how you're better off settling than going to trial.
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Old 08-29-08, 06:00 PM
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Oh, there's no interest in trial here! Just a statute of limitations forcing a suit where physical recovery took a while. If the medical establishment had caught all the damage initially this would have all been negotiated and settled by now, but they missed a problem that needed surgery, simply trying cortisone and PT. Which won't reattach things!!!

I did a "poll" of moderately cognizant parties on the insurance and PI side. The range all centered around a magic value plus or minus $25K. So I'm OK with what the result "should" be in general terms. But none of those people did anything but give an educated guess off the cuff. Which didn't make me feel particularly good about the matter. I anticipate that the lower end of the range would be fine. All the numbers are much larger than my initial "guess" as a PI outsider - my guess all the attorneys laughed at!! The attorneys simply indicated that given the level of medical expenses, days off work, and lingering permanent stuff, they'd typically get X in their practice location. Which wasn't particularly satisfying. Or that X was generally the insurance limit for people like the defendant. Or some other unsatisfying story! The insurance fellow I talked to said about the same thing. Fellow probably has liability of this amount and you should be able to get 50% to 100% of that limit, depending on how things work out. Very little focus on the victim!

It's kind of interesting.

Given the backup in our local Circuit Court from political BS it's unlikely to go to trial ever. Nobody will live that long! Not quite that bad, but there's been some nonsense and nothing happened for a while, so there's a backlog to clear. I'm trusting something can be reached before too much discovery, too much involvement with experts, and so on. A last minute courthouse steps thing I don't want to see, just a bit of back and forth and then an agreement.

I tend to see trials as the failure of the system.
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Old 08-29-08, 06:59 PM
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ask this question to a reliable personal injury lawyer (no fee until settlement).
they know your answer!
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Old 08-30-08, 02:15 PM
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Sue the dog for everything he has. If the dog is dead, sue his estate. Maybe you can settle for part of his kibble.

Dog owner needs to be held responsible if thats the case.

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Old 09-01-08, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
we were a tumbling mass getting simultaneous road rash on the pavement.
Somehow I dont think that dog will be so eager to dash into bicycles in the future
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