open topic, for anything cycling related.
17 posts • Page 1 of 1
Hey guys... As some of you know I was hit by a car a few months ago.. Police report was done and police found the result inconclusive due to no witnesses and conflicting stories..
Strangely the other day I received a letter from an insurance company (no doubt from the drivers insurance) requesting information from the incident to proceed with a claim?
I would assume the insurance company would be able to get the police report, so a little confused why I'm getting a letter.. Is the insurance company trying to get me to pay the ladies car damage? A little frustrating because at the time of the scene all I saw was a small scratch on her Getz whilst my $10k bike was totalled...
Seems dodgy... Any advice would be appreciated... Is it necessary to visit a lawyer or simply provide the insurance company with a new description of the incident?
Yes, they are going to make a claim against you. Tell them nothing until advised by your insurance company or legal advisor.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...
Do not even respond to them, except to point them to your lawyer.
Insurance companies need to submit an foi request to police to get crash details I think. There's a cost plus time issue there. They may be trying to shortcut it, but I doubt it. Be cautious.
FOI is usually pretty cheap - but even if they did make a request, which I'm not sure they could, the OP would be a 3rd party and would therefore likely need to be notified of the application and given time to lodge an objection. And then it all becomes very interesting.
There should normally be an FOI manual you can consult for the processes surrounding this. In NSW - there was one.
i worked at a personal injury law firm last year,
basically what happens is in the event of a hit and run or similar is that the motor accidents authority (i think thats what it was), allocates an insurance company,
and they put that as the nominated defendant.
then the solicitor will then put a claim out in the newspaper 'seeking witnesses' etc, then after the submission of evidence or what have you the insurance company will then make a verdit as to pay out or not.
its been a while and i've forgotten most of the details (i was a temporary PA to one of the solicitors there)
but yes, get a solicitor.
Could be something good. (like a nominated defendant), but could be bad as well.
i don't believe you necessarily need to go to the expense of hiring a lawyer for traffic incidents. they're pretty black-and-white, including when there are conflicting stories.
if i were you, i'd start by writing back to the insurance company seeking advice on the nature of the claim they quoted - who they are representing, what the claim is - before agreeing to divulge information.
have you made a claim against the driver? if you believe the driver was in the wrong and you suffered material damages (your bike), you should have done that. it's not too late. it's not a good look for them to be pursuing you, while you haven't made a claim against the driver - that can make you look guilty.
if the insurance company are reprsenting the driver (which seems most likely), you should put in a claim against them. a friend of mine did this recently (against the driver directly, who didn't claim against his insurance) and took him to magistrate's court, represented himself, and won 80% of his claim (they never give you 100%). doesn't have to cost you a cent (well, there are nominal court fees). where the road rules are clear and you can demonstrate how the driver breached them (location of damage on the vehicle is often good evidence - if you had pics from the incident that would help) then you don't need a QC, just represent yourself.
people often lack the confidence to take on "big insurance companies and their lawyers", but the truth is, your case is just another in a long line they are dealing with and they will often be ill-prepared to prosecute it. on the other hand, if you do your homework - establish all the facts of the case that you can, with photos etc. - you are more likely to impress a magistrate.
The driver who ran into the back of me insurance co got the incident report and witness statements by going through the same process that I went through to get them. The critea is:
that I am an authorised person under Section 118N of the Police Regulation Act 1958 ie. a person:
(a) who is injured as a result of a vehicle accident or,
(b) whose property is damaged or destroyed as a result of a vehicle accident or,
(c) who is a personal representative of a person who diesor is injured, or whose property is damaged or destroyed, as a result of a vehicle accident or,
(d) who is an authorised representative of a person referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) or a personal representative referred to in paragraph (c)
then it basically goes on to say:
that I am requesting vehicle accident information for one or more of the following authorised purposes......
(a) to obtain legal advice in relation to the vehicle accident....
(b) to recover any loss or damage incurred or suffered, or costs incurred, as a result of the vehicle accident......
I would say that the drivers insurance company intend taking legal action against you but it may depend on what the incident report says. Knowing what I know now would I hire a lawyer! Well if the incident report and any witness statements were inconclusive then I would'nt bother. I would only hire a lawyer if I felt I had a good chance of getting a settlement from the drivers insurance company.
What would I have done in the first instance?
Immediately after the accident I would have sent a letter of demand and 2 quotes to the driver and given them 30 days to settle the claim or legal action would be taken to recover my losses.
At this point I would be on the front foot and sending them a claim for the damage to your bike. What they will probably try to do is bully you into paying for the damage to the drivers car. Bullying and thugery is what they are specialists at.
Also remember insurers do risk assessments and litigation is expensive (they employ the BIG law firms who can charge through the nose) so they will sometimes settle before court ( although some only start negotiations the day before court )
If they do sue and you haven't already made a claim for your bike etc. that is when you should be making a counterclaim.
Some insurers only understand aggression. Hope that's not the case in your situation.
P.S. If you haven't sent a demand you still have time. You have 6 years from the date of the accident to sue.
I don't know what state we are talking about, but in Qld the limitation period for personal injury is 3 years. I've not looked at the limitations acts in the other states to check, not that it should be an issue given the timeframes we are talking about.
although i think this is a property claim anyway
Hence why speaking to a lawyer would be good - to get the right time limits for the particular State in question.
you may have noticed in my comments i'm a bit reticent to hire lawyers. as someone who has done that and poured a small fortune into their coffers, for reasons other than traffic incidents, you learn to be judicious about when to engage them. traffic incidents are relatively straightforward and while it's certainly useful to have a lawyer advising and acting for you, they're amongst the most straightforward of legal issues and you can do most of it yourself for "free".
Having a lawyer might add a little weight to your claim for damages but I agree it's a straightforward process in the Magistrates Court here in Melbourne as I discovered. They even give you a free booklet on representing yourself in civil claims and it's really quite easy.
Again, the only information I would give them is a claim for your damages.
Agreed about the Magistrates' Court in Victoria (Birdbrain's post) and about the possibility of representing yourself there (the judges will also try and help you along to some extent).
My lawyer reference was referring to the fact that my 6 year time limit statement was possibly referring to the wrong time limit in the wrong State - not helpful for the OP if he is in another State that has different time limits. But no-one is going to listen to advice on internet forums anyway.
The Courts can be quite helpful sometimes if you want to know procedures (not providing legal advice, but the procedures of the courts and what happens or needs to be done next). I do like those brochures.
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