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    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2015
     
    Any recommendations on my situation? Some said small claims court...

    Hi, here is my story:

    I was traveling west on dec 2, 2014, on my bicycle in the rain, I checked if it was clear for me to merge into the left turning lane (which it was), so I put my hand out signalling my intent, completed the merge, then all of a sudden I hear screaching and turn back to see a car sliding into my back wheel, from a car speeding for those conditions (definitely speeding if it was a perfect day too). I denied medical treatment, although scraped and needing stitches and some possible fractures in my hand. I do have photos of me bandaged by EMT and of my damaged rear on site. My whole rear end of the bike to repair was about $430. There are witnesses. I called her insurance up and gave all the information including my statement. I was calling for over a month with no response from that claims specialist until finally I demanded her supervisor. The claim was denied "because I went into her lane and made an improper merge". They say the witnesses said I was weaving... which I do not know they altered their words as I was merging into a left hand turn lane.

    For lawyers : Is there no charge if the case is not won? If it is won do you charge the insurance company?
    • CommentAuthorsd_mike
    • CommentTimeJan 10th 2015
     
    Did you get a copy of the police report which should also have the witness statements? Regardless of the speed of the vehicle, did you see that car at all before you merged into that lane? What did you/could you have done to give the impression that you were weaving?

    Start with the police report and go from there. Also, be sure to write everything down. Write your story as memory fades. You will need it later on. Also see if the person was driving for a company as they would be liable as well.
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeJan 10th 2015
     
    I have the police "report" but it states nothing really, just information of both parties and a number for a witness. This was a person not driving for company, child in back seat of car (which I guess makes this more aggrevating, that she is speeding in the rain with a sub 1 year old ! )
    • CommentAuthorsd_mike
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2015
     
    The larger question is - Did you see the vehicle before you merged into that lane? Your story of "all of a sudden" tells me you didn't see the vehicle and merged in front of it. Did you see the vehicle and misjudge their speed? I doubt you'd get much help from their insurance company telling them that you saw them and merged in front of them anyway. That would qualify as an "improper merge".

    Does the police report show any fault? Does it list any vehicle code violations and by who? These things are important if you want the insurance company to pay anything. They won't if you pulled in front of someone that you saw and expected them to slow/see you.
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2015
     
    There were no vehicles on in the 2 lanes when I decided to go for it. All of a sudden means she was speeding in the reduced visibility conditions (visibility cut to /14th mile??). I believe that area is 35mph, but because of lovely double lanes for passing people do 50-60. No one is shown at fault, no code violations listed.
    • CommentAuthorsd_mike
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2015
     
    Sounds like the police could not determine fault. I do question, as the insurance company seems to as well, the apparent lack of vehicles in the lanes. There was one, otherwise there would not be a collision. I'm not doubting your story, just questioning the lack of vehicles. Someone going that fast would have been noticeable. As to their speed, how did you determine it? Was it something they said, a witness said, or the police said? Does the police report give any conclusion?
    •  
      CommentAuthorSigurd
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2015 edited
     
    It used to be - at least so I was taught in driving school - that if you rear-end somebody, you are certainly at fault, almost regardless of circumstances.

    Apparently, things are not that cut and dry anymore - if they were, it would be far too little work to go around for lawyers, and too little room for law enforcement to impose their own biases and for insurance companies to wiggle out of making disbursements they otherwise would undoubtedly be liable for.

    And maybe most critically, drivers could actually be held liable - imagine that - for ramming into cyclists from behind.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSmorg
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2015 edited
     
    This was on H St just east of the 805? Terra Nova Mall area? (I'm wondering if there is any webcam/security camera) around there that faces the street).
    •  
      CommentAuthorCornelia
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2015
     
    Sigurd:It used to be - at least so I was taught in driving school - that if you rear-end somebody, you are certainly at fault, almost regardless of circumstances.


    I believe this is still common practice (not a law though) but mostly applies to tailgating situations, hence the insurance company's attempt to shift fault by making this an improper merge on the other parties side.


    I see two issues here, 1) the lack of reliable witnesses and 2) an individual going against an insurance corporation.

    Can you contact the witness(es) listed in the police report to get the story straightened out?

    It might help having an insurance company on your side too, I would check with your home owner / renter insurance if they can help with your claim, your auto insurance might be worth a try too. It is too bad you denied medical treatment or this could be another angle too (claims seem to get more attention if medical treatment and personal injuries are part of it).

    For small claims court, I had to go to small claims last summer and it was a very time consuming, frustrating and exhausting experience. And that is even though I won and had legal insurance through my employer providing a (good) lawyer filing all the paperwork & helping preparing for court (you can't have a lawyer represent you in small claims court).
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeJan 12th 2015
     
    Sigurd:It used to be - at least so I was taught in driving school - that if you rear-end somebody, you are certainly at fault, almost regardless of circumstances.

    Apparently, things are not that cut and dry anymore - if they were, it would be far too little work to go around for lawyers, and too little room for law enforcement to impose their own biases and for insurance companies to wiggle out of making disbursements they otherwise would undoubtedly be liable for.

    And maybe most critically, drivers could actually be held liable - imagine that - for ramming into cyclists from behind.


    and this is a quite infuriorating thing, that this is a basis idea for our rules of the road. If not being implemented... makes all laws in general utter bullshoot - meaning why bother following any law?

    Smorg:This was on H St just east of the 805? Terra Nova Mall area? (I'm wondering if there is any webcam/security camera) around there that faces the street).


    No, closer to Rt 5. Location =

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/H+St+%26+5th+Ave,+Chula+Vista,+CA+91910/@32.6320729,-117.0853626,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x80d94de6b35eb52f:0xb51bcce42d312bdd

    Cornelia:
    Sigurd:It used to be - at least so I was taught in driving school - that if you rear-end somebody, you are certainly at fault, almost regardless of circumstances.


    I believe this is still common practice (not a law though) but mostly applies to tailgating situations, hence the insurance company's attempt to shift fault by making this an improper merge on the other parties side.


    I see two issues here, 1) the lack of reliable witnesses and 2) an individual going against an insurance corporation.

    Can you contact the witness(es) listed in the police report to get the story straightened out?

    It might help having an insurance company on your side too, I would check with your home owner / renter insurance if they can help with your claim, your auto insurance might be worth a try too. It is too bad you denied medical treatment or this could be another angle too (claims seem to get more attention if medical treatment and personal injuries are part of it).

    For small claims court, I had to go to small claims last summer and it was a very time consuming, frustrating and exhausting experience. And that is even though I won and had legal insurance through my employer providing a (good) lawyer filing all the paperwork & helping preparing for court (you can't have a lawyer represent you in small claims court).
    Smorg:This was on H St just east of the 805? Terra Nova Mall area? (I'm wondering if there is any webcam/security camera) around there that faces the street).


    sadly it looks like I have to go through with the annoying small claims process. I have no insurance to back me up except for at fault on my car or moto. Yup no health too that is why I denied care on site as I feared this situation might happen. Even I would fear treatment on much more severe injury as I know the opposing insurance party is always against my interests.

    Welcome to the USA - what was freedom and justice for all.... is "mandatory insurance and injustice for all"
    • CommentAuthorsd_mike
    • CommentTimeJan 12th 2015 edited
     
    I think the biggest thing you have against you is the fact that it would appear you pulled out in front of a car (regardless of their speed) and "didn't see them". You either saw them and ignored their presence, much to your detriment, or you actually didn't see them which means you weren't paying close enough attention, again much to your detriment. Being hit from behind while doing the proper thing is one thing, being hit from behind because you pulled in front of someone is another. What you have to do is, especially in small claims court, prove that you DID NOT pull out in front of someone else, creating the hazard that resulted in the collision.

    Don't go blaming them for breaking the law when you might have well done the same thing (and have stated many times on this website your justifications for running stop signs). It is unfortunate that you had the collision but you will still need to prove that you weren't the cause of the collision. Find witnesses and other evidence that helps and you may well come out ahead.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSmorg
    • CommentTimeJan 12th 2015
     
    synthetic:
    Yup no health too that is why I denied care on site as I feared this situation might happen.


    I feel you, bro. I was uninsurable in 2012 when I had a downhill group crash. Went with the flow then and took the ambulance ride to the ER... The most expensive 8 mile ride ever! (More expensive than the ER, MDs, radiology bills combined. Took me months to pay everything off. :oP

    Hopefully the witnesses straighten out and things work out your way. Good luck!
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeJan 12th 2015 edited
     
    Ok here is proof of direction of travel. http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/644078150/3 As you can see I was traveling west until the finish marker..
    •  
      CommentAuthorPaul
    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2015
     
    Just a tip - when I had a (successful) car v vehicle insurance claim last year, the insurance company checked my social media during their investigation. Clean up the references to breaking traffic laws if you haven't already.
    It's not evidence that you were in the wrong in this case, but it doesn't help.
    In my situation, I found that patience in not responding to every counter claim immediately and a calm relationship with the investigator led to my ultimate happiness.
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2015
     
    Thanks paul , im trying to be careful

    archived weather report of visibility is 8 miles , which means visibility is reduced by 1/5th. According to rule book you look 12-15 sec ahead but now can only see 9.6-12 seconds ahead. What distance is this 12-15 sec based on?

    Im trying to use physics to determine my case based on gps upload. I saw 1/4th mile of clear to make my move...

    The time I slowed speed due to merging 15-->12mph(looking back and signalling will naturally slow you down) and then 15 seconds after I am hit by the car, meaning shew was travelling 60mph in a 35mph zone. I did call her telling her the potential of small claims filing. She indicated 25mph - which under law would be legal for those conditions (10mph slower). I have a feeling this was doctored and insurance is telling her to say this as she has no record of her true speed like I have of mine. Although I told her lets see what insurance will do with the garmin evidence first...
    • CommentAuthorJSnook
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2015 edited
     
    Sorry you had to go through that. Were the witnesses also in cars? If so, sounds like there was at least some traffic around. I would try and understand why the motorist had to slam on their brakes. If you merged right in front of them you would be moving still as you'd be going slower right? If you were stopped for 15 seconds or whatever it is then that would indicate you didn't merge right in front of someone. The facts that you were stopped, waiting for the signal to change for some appreciable amount of time, and that the motorist had to slam on their brakes making a skidding sound would seem to be indicative of fault on her part. I would see if your witnesses can remember/testify to those two points. Good luck.

    Edit: just read it again and it's clear that you were moving when you were hit - not stopped as I was thinking. I still think if you were close to the left turn and she skidded into you it would indicate she was driving too fast for conditions. Also, the motorist saying you swerved in front of her is admitting she did in fact see you - so she can't pull the old "I didn't see him/her" thing. I agree about not giving up on her insurance - they will recoup their loss in higher premiums for her anyways and if she is a bad driver they should want to know that right? I think if you were still moving at 10-12 MPH, and she skidded an appreciable distance and still hit you with some force then you could probably convince her insurer that she was going faster than the 25MPH she claims and that she probably was distracted or not paying attention and didn't see you until it was too late, as you made a normal merge into a left-hand turn lane after checking it was safe and clear. You didn't get hit merging after all - sounds like you got hit after you were already in that lane for a while - so her swerving story and MPH claim sound like they can be refuted with the facts and logic.
    •  
      CommentAuthorPaul
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2015
     
    In my experience with my minivan on bike claim, it's not so much presenting them with the actual forensic evidence but how you present the potential of that evidence. Convince them that the evidence will show your case. It's too early to threaten small claims unless you've received a letter outright rejecting your demand. You're not close to the statute of limitations yet, so take your time and work with the adjuster. Create a relationship with them and be patient. Once they are clear that they have some potential liability, they will make an offer. It will be less than what they're willing to pay, so sit on it. Don't counter immediately. Unless you are being pressured by a healthcare provider to pay a bill, there's no reason to rush. Progressive ultimately made me an offer that I accepted just before six months. The adjuster has an incentive to resolve open claims, you just need to show her what it's worth. Document the damage to your bike (be liberal - they caused your crash) and any medicals and potential rehab expenses and present it in a demand letter. You can find examples on line. Let them sit on it and get back to you. You have time to take the judicial route, so let it take its course.
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2015
     
    They have sent the letter of rejection, even though I have proof that I was in the lane, which they claim as "her" lane. You can tell they have the cars rule the world mentality. I dont understand this insurance world, the policy holder is not getting the service they paid for.... they even told me on the phone that if I have the police to put her at fault on the ticket, they would still deny it.

    This is Alliance Insurance based in california fyi...
    •  
      CommentAuthorCornelia
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2015
     
    synthetic:... I dont understand this insurance world, the policy holder is not getting the service they paid for....


    You are not the policy holder and the insurance company is protecting their client (and the insurance $$), what is there to not understand??
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2015
     
    they are protecting the client if they pay otherwise client must deal with small claims/lawyer. If the person is at fault the insurance must pay...
    • CommentAuthorJSnook
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2015
     
    most people never follow through with small claims despite it being fairly straightforward and cheap to file, and pretty easy to serve if you know where someone lives or works and understand what the minimum requirements for serving someone are. We can talk about it all we want here but until you actually file (there are no lawyers in small claims) and serve the motorist that hit you you won't know how she or her insurance will react.
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2015
     
    Ok.... I yelped this company. It looks like I also need to file with the BBB. It is very hard to get a low 1 star on yelp, because their engine only puts the best comments and ratings for the public to see.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/alliance-united-insurance-company-camarillo?osq=alliance+auto+insurance
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2015
     
    Ok I filed a complaint with department of insurance.

    And something I learned from former insurance agent turned cyclist:

    All you need to operate a car is insurnace, from a licensed insurance agent who has X dollars in the bank. The policy, on the other hand you can pay just $1 a month for, as they can sell you such a restrictive coverage policy, that say perhaps, only covers incidents with martians and nothing else - giving them power to deny a majorty of legitamite claims.

    Folks, the insurance industry is just pure evil.

    I filed with the BBB but they rejected it, saying it is out of their scope. The BBB is also a crock of shit (kind of like the yelp scam, where businesses pay to have their reviews ranked higher)
    •  
      CommentAuthorCornelia
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2015
     
    Conspiracy. I somehow knew from the beginning this is all the martians fault. What will be next, alien abduction? ;-)
  1.  
    From Outside:

    Bikes vs. Cars: The Deadly War Nobody's Winning
    By: Andrew Tilin
    Feb 17, 2015

    Liability lawyer and former professional bike racer Megan Hottman spends her working hours representing cyclists who've been injured by reckless drivers. She spends her leisure time riding and telling people something they don't always want to hear: in the perpetual, complicated conflict between two wheels and four, bike riders are part of the problem, and they have to be a big part of the solution.
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeFeb 27th 2015
     
    potential good news... i filed small claim against insurance co. Over the phone, they were trying to make me file against the driver but I said no, I am following court instruction. Her voice changed to a nervous tone and said she will send agreement that I get a check, afterwards I file a dismissal. Upon the check clearing iin the bank.. justice will be served.
    • CommentAuthorJSnook
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2015
     
    Great news! Glad you used the court system - that's what it is there for. It is true that if you file and they pay/settle with you then you can simply not show up for the court date and it will be dismissed. If that check doesn't come though be ready to show up in court. If they don't show you'll probably get a judgement in your favor. Keep us posted.
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2015
     
    Ok the check cleared! woohoo! It is important to follow small claims instructions to the point and not have anyone make you change the documents.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSmorg
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2015
     
    Awesome! Well done, Synthetic! :D