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Hit and run, 9/8. Suggestions?

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Hit and run, 9/8. Suggestions?

Old 09-13-10, 01:49 PM
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lucasgo
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Hit and run, 9/8. Suggestions?

In a nutshell, it was a hit and run, Rochester NY, left hook into me as I was commuting home, following all regular traffic regulations. I was riding north, they were coming south, no cars blocking view of me. I ride VISIBLY. I saw the car turning into the sidestreet that I was passing and tried stepping on the pedals to try to get out of the accident, but to no avail; they hit my rear fork, which spun me and flung me about 10 feet, skidding across pavement and up onto the sidewalk. The witnesses say it was an older man, probably 80's, wearing glasses, etc. I went to the ER for about 8 hours. Fortunately, no broken bones or significant internal injuries; just road rash from hell. I went home with a healthy prescription for vicodin and was essentially an invalid for the next four days. I went back to work today (I teach middle school science) for just the two periods that I would have taught. Big mistake. I'm not going in tomorrow, and Wednesday is up in the air at this point. Still, no lost wages, it just comes out of sick time. The injuries are covered by my PIP portion of my auto insurance, but my bike (destroyed) is not. I have a $500 deductible on my homeowners, which covers it anything beyond that (looking to be in the neighborhood of $1400).

Here's the thing that is currently rubbing me wrong. I called the police the next day to ask about my bike. I gave my story, and he asked if I was sure that I had been hit, and that maybe the driver had cut too close and spooked me, and I fell. No way. He said that my bike was essentially undamaged. I didn't believe that for a second. He said that he had a dead-ringer if I hadn't been hit because it was an older man but said he hadn't hit me (which is different from "what are you talking about?"). Plus, apparently no damage on his car.

We went in to see the bike that night and as soon as he opened the gate I said, "That was SO hit!" Rear of the frame was bent in against the wheel, rear rack was crushed in as well, right where I had said I'd been hit. More bends and bumps throughout. It was hit. I was able to bring my bike home (after taking photographs of it). I got a copy of the police report. There is no statement from the person they had questioned, which I found odd.

So, I have an officer telling me that there is no damage to my bike. There was. He also tells me there was no damage to the guy's car. I haven't seen it, and I'm not sure I believe it. Maybe no significant damage, but he may have missed the small scrape that would have resulted, not realizing the relative insignificance of a bicycle's momentum compared to a car. I think he also doesn't want to follow up with this older guy because "he drives around, picking up cans and turning them in and then donating that money to local churches." With a hit and run, he'd have to give him a bad ticket, possibly losing the license. Naturally, I'm not necessarily looking for that to happen, but if it was him, he's responsible for the injuries and damages. My insurance company obviously isn't pleased that it was a hit and run and they can't follow up on anybody.

Thoughts? How should I proceed?
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Old 09-13-10, 01:59 PM
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At a minimum you need to get insurance and file a claim for the damages. You don't have to follow up with criminal or civil charges, let the insurance companies sort out the costs which should be 100% covered for you.
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Old 09-13-10, 02:29 PM
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You used the plural "witnesses"; could none of them identify the vehicle or driver? Didn't any of them provide a statement to the police? Whether or not the driver of the vehicle was the Prince of Wales himself doesn't change the fact that he left the scene of an accident.

Personally I find some of these oblivious older drivers are the scariest things on the road..........
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Old 09-13-10, 03:17 PM
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Two witness statements on the police report. "Hit the cyclist and kept driving fast", and "drove through fast and kept going like he hadn't even hit him". I know there were other witnesses present (two groups of my students were walking home), but those were the only two to give statements. They didn't get a license plate #. The only description I have is "old man, possibly 80's, wearing baseball cap and glasses". Like I said, the cop thought he had a dead ringer based on description of driver and car, but he didn't see any damage to the car. I really need that car photographed though. The cop doesn't know what he's looking for.

Oh, and I did file under my insurance. My injuries are covered, but they'd rather have it go on someone else's, obviously.
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Old 09-13-10, 03:37 PM
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One of those cases where consulting a lawyer who knows these things might be useful.
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Old 09-13-10, 07:39 PM
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Luckily, I've never been hit. Not to be an ageist or anything, but there are a few places on some of my commutes where I need to ride in the left turn lane, (near a park and a bike trail, mind you), there is usually traffic coming from the other direction, and EVERY TIME the person appears over about 60, they honk at me (as if to remind me that I'm on a bike and this is the road). I can't really blame them, there are plenty of people that bike like idiots (me, sometimes, included, no one's perfect!), and they may feel threatened, or maybe it's just a TURN THAT RACKET DOWN WHIPPERSNAPPER thing, or maybe just that during the majority of the time they've been driving, they haven't ever been used to having bikes on the road, and just don't know how you'd react (or how they should, to you).

Regardless of age, social status, etc, the person should be held responsible for what they did, and at the very least you shouldn't get screwed out of a bike. Hopefully you can get a name or something for the insurance people, at the very least, of course.
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Old 09-13-10, 08:02 PM
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If you have the bike now, take it immediately to a reputable bike shop and get a repair estimate, and ask for them to provide a statement in writing that the damage is consistent with being hit by a vehicle, and could not reasonably have been caused by just falling. The bike mechanic's professional opinion should have more weight than a cop's.

See if your insurance company can provide guidance and possibly a statement that the driver is legally responsible for paying your deductible in your state. Call a lawyer if necessary, even if the lawyer costs what you get out of the guy on deductible (unlikely) it might be worth it to get the guy to pay for his mistake so he'll remember it in the future. Most likely if the lawyer just writes a letter to the guy stating the case and that he IS responsible for paying the deductible, he'll just fork over the money since it won't go into his record (any more than what's already happened) and it's not worth fighting. Usually you can get a lawyer to write a letter for you for < $100.
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Old 09-13-10, 08:12 PM
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For starters, so sorry to hear about this! As a fellow Rochesterian middle school teacher/cyclist I feel for you, and what a lousy time of year for it to happen! (Not that there's a GOOD time to get hit...)

Where did this happen, somewhere in Webster? I'm a west-sider with about a 7 mile commute and this just scared the bejeezus out of me...

Good luck, feel better...

JM
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Old 09-14-10, 07:11 AM
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I contacted a lawyer (bicycleattorney.com I think?) and pretty much heard what I'd expected. No serious injuries = no need for lawyer because no money. Still, if we can deduce that it WAS him, my insurance is going to go after his. I've talked with my insurance further re: repair/replacement of the bike and she didn't bat an eye when I said it was in the neighborhood of $1400, just to go ahead and purchase it and send the itemized receipt, or get a letter from the bike shop indicating prices of everything and they'd send a check and then I could go buy. Minus my $500, of course.
I've taken tons of photos of the bike, so I think it's safe to move on. I'll hang onto it, though, just in case it's needed in the future. There are only a few things that are salvageable from it, so it's going to stay pretty much as-is.
John, it happened on Winton Road, just north of the intersection with Monroe (Twelve Corners area). Here's the map, if it works (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=winton...N&hl=en&tab=wl)
Naturally, the Brighton PD didn't want to think it was this guy because of what he does for the community, coupled with the fact the officer didn't see any damage to the car. Still waiting to speak with him again; maybe he's just had a bunch of days off in a row?? Hasn't returned my calls. I thought I could go back to school yesterday and just teach my afternoon classes. Boy, that was a mistake. I didn't want to miss the kids so early in the year, but I was exhausted before the end of the first block and hip was starting to really swell up again. Taking today off, and trying for half days on Wed/Thurs.
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Old 09-14-10, 07:42 PM
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I'd pursue it to the limit with trying to hold the motorist accountable. I would ask my homeowners insurance company to stand down and let you work it - at least until you find you can or cannot be made whole by pursuing your case with the driver and the police. Then you will have a decision to make.

Know this - while your claims agent may be talking all nice about how all you need to do is give them a statement and a reciept - they ALMOST CERTAINLY WILL cancel - or "decline to renew" your policy when it's up. At that point, when you go to shop new insurance, you'll find you are on "the list" - there's basically a system like the credit bureaus about insurance "customers". If you're on the list as having made a claim - pretty much any claim - you will NOT get insurance at anything close to the best rates. You may get your $900 ($1400 - your $500 deductible) but be warned - you'll pay that all back with interest in the form or higher premiums.

Homeowners insurance is made to be used only in catastrophic situations. Ones where you lose your home or suffer massive damage. A $900 claim is just asking to get hosed.
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Old 09-14-10, 09:50 PM
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The driver's insurance company should have to pay to buy back your sick leave. I'd press with my insurance to put pressure on the police. No matter what the guy does around town, next time he might run over a kid.
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Old 09-15-10, 07:55 AM
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This is what uninsured/underinsured covereage is for. The UM coverage on your own auto policy should cover this completely, meaning medical bills (8 hours in the ER is pretty pricey) that are not covered by PIP (try not to get your own health insurance involved - they will have a lien against any other recovery, so what they pay gets taken from other insurance recovery), wage loss (taking sick time counts as lost wages), property damage, and possibly other damages depending on NY law. If the other driver an be identified, he might be held responsible, but that for the insurance subrogation department to worry about.
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Old 09-15-10, 01:03 PM
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Seems like you insurance company is involved and interested. Aside from that all I would suggest is getting permission from your school administration to post flyers asking for witnesses. You siad some of the kids may have seen something. Kids often get underestimated. There just may have been one bright enough to remember something significant, there is also a good change no ne of the kids has stepped up because there were already a couple of adult witnesses. (If yuo need an angle to help with the administration point out next time it may be a student, on bike on on foot).
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