Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Local Cyclist Gets Injured In Car vs. Bicycle Accident- Legal System Gets Away With Hit and Run!

I am the victim of a bicyclist vs. car accident almost 3 years ago in which the auto was at fault. I am writing of my experience during my recovery and most recently today's court ruling which knocked me down again.

The accident happened on 8/31/05 at the corner of Garden St. and Arrellaga St. I was on my mountain bike heading down Garden when a SUV at the stop sign on Arrellaga pulled out in front of me and caused me to hit the SUV at approximately 20 mph. I was able to turn just enough so that I did not go face first into the vehicle but instead I slammed my hip and elbow simultaneously followed by a flight onto my tailbone on the pavement. As most accidents do, it happened so quickly there was almost no time to react and I was at the mercy of the car.

Following impact I managed to pull myself of the road and had a variety of injuries but luckily no broken bones(although my bike frame was not as lucky). The driver seemed sorry and we exchanged info just in case. My bike although damaged was ride-able and I managed to make it home to begin my long road to recovery.

Fast forward to Summer of 2007, I still was suffering from back and leg problems associated with the accident. I am the last person to file a lawsuit but I felt it necessary to get the help I needed for my injuries. My thoughts on the legal system at this time were that it would assist me in getting the treatment I needed to fully recover from my injuries. I should note that this suit was with the insurance company involved in the accident- not the driver. Up until this point the insurance of the driver had offered me insulting amounts of money to settle this case and they did it in not very pleasant ways.

I obtained legal counsel and eventually events occurred which bring me to present day. My attorneys spent hundreds of hours preparing for this case and who knows how much money. The opposing side also spent thousands of dollars preparing for this case including on at least three occasions hiring private detective whom followed me around while I was doing my activities of daily living. There were several things which made this case not perfect but I was confident that justice would be served and I would be given a chance heal from my injuries.

During the trail we had testimony from two of the doctors who I had visited that testified the pain I have during bike riding, running, sitting, and prevents me from sleeping through the night, was all caused by this accident. Of course the insurance agency had a MD as well that said the opposite of what my doctors had said. All in all I thought things were going my way until the verdict was read this AM.

From the beginning, the driver of the car has taken responsibility for causing this accident. I have respect for someone who can take responsibility for their actions and I hold no ill feelings against him. That part of the case was easy for the jury to figure out and it was on to the damages. I won't get into the numbers involved here but we had significant medical and legal bills associated with this case. Thanks to this jury I still have significant legal and medical costs associated with this case as they chose not to award. The jury did award a small bit of money, slightly more that it took to repair the drivers car when my body dented the side of it.

Without getting into too much detail of why they decided on this I will just say that legally there were several flaws in our case. That being said, I did not have any injuries before the accident and now I suffer daily with pain associated with this crash. Thanks to the legal system I will not be able to get any future treatments that will help me deal with this accident. Do I feel the justice system has let me down- yes! Is this another case of the big insurance company taking advantage of the little guy- you bet. Sadly now I am just another statistic in another case where the cyclist gets the short end of the stick in one way or another.

What could have been done differently to prevent this outcome? The only sure thing is that I should never have gone for a ride that day three years ago. Other than that if I could advise anyone who has had or will have any future circumstances similar to this - call your attorney before you call 911. The way our system is set up you cannot and will not survive alone. If I wanted to find a positive point out of all this I guess I can use this failure to benefit others in the future.

Thanks and ride safely,
Dave Everett


Greg Knowles said...

Dave, sorry to hear about the outcome. Cycling is one of those sports where nothing good happens when you crash. Keep the rubber side down.

dave said...

Heard that!