advice about crash - uninsured

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
PuncturedBicycle
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advice about crash - uninsured

Postby PuncturedBicycle » 24 Jul 2018, 5:39pm

Hi

New member from Bristol here. I've been cycling on and off for 40+ years and have been a regular commuter for the last 8 years or so.

Last week I had my first major accident leaving me with a broken collarbone, ribs and a punctured lung. It wasn't another drivers fault, nobody pulled out on me or anything, I was just coming down a hill and couldn't stop in time. I hit a hire car and caused some damage to it. I don't have any cycling insurance. I'm now expecting a bill from the car hire company to add my injuries. What are my options at this point?

Any help most appreciated.

Cyril Haearn
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby Cyril Haearn » 24 Jul 2018, 5:54pm

You could be covered by your home insurance policy
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fionat
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby fionat » 24 Jul 2018, 5:58pm

You say you're a new member - are you a cyclingUK member? If so, you've got 3rd party cover

https://www.cyclinguk.org/member-benefi ... ance-cover


If not, you may have something on your home insurance policy that provides 3rd party claims - give them a call to check.

Hope you make a speedy recovery - get well soon!

thirdcrank
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby thirdcrank » 24 Jul 2018, 6:47pm

If you have no access to legal advice through something like membership of a union or CyclingUK, many personal injury solicitors will give you a free short interview + advice. Don't assume there's no hope here till you have proper advice because the law is complicated and common sense doesn't always come into it.

I see there's a Citizens Advice in Bristol.
https://www.bristolcab.org.uk/

I don't think Citizens Advice is equipped to offer legal advice after a crash, but the CAB where I used to be a volunteer was able to refer cases to a panel of local solicitors who offered some help on a pro bono basis.

As others have posted, check the insurance especially your house insurance. FWIW, I think house insurance often includes third party cover to protect the mortgage lender. Obviously, if you rent, it's a bit different. That takes it on to your income and assets. If you do receive a bill from the other side, your options are either paying or some sort of negotiation over either the amount, time to pay or both. If you are dealing with the other side's insurer, they will be business-like but hopefully realistic. Again, the Citizens Advice should be able to advise because this is more their territory. If you have only sickness benefits as a result of the crash and no worthwhile assets, your ability to pay will be small which has to be taken into account by creditors or a court, should it get that far. At the very least, the Money Advice section of the CAB should be able to offer advice on managing the bill. In particular, don't be frightened into taking out some sort of loan to pay this off.

slowster
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby slowster » 24 Jul 2018, 9:47pm

I would echo the advice to check that your household contents insurance provides Public Liability cover, and to contact your insurers and provide them with details of the accident (don't wait for a letter from the hire company or their insurers before notifying your own insurers: potentially that could mean a delay of months [or even years in rare cases] and delaying telling your own insurer can be grounds for them to turn down the claim, because the delay may harm their ability to defend the claim against you by the hire company and increase the costs to them of dealing with the claim).

If you do not have any insurance that covers this incident, I am sceptical of the value of contacting a solicitor yourself at this stage. If you employ a solicitor yourself, it would only be to defend you and limit any claim against you (as opposed to seeking to recover damages where someone else is responsible for injuring you or damaging your property).

If the claim from the hire company or their insurers is reasonable and straightforward, then employing a solicitor rather than just paying it, might only increase the cost of this incident to you because you will have to pay your solicitor's fees as well.

I would instead wait and see what the amount of the claim was, and consider whether it was reasonable before deciding if it was potentially worthwhile consulting a solicitor.

I think it used to be the case that some hire companies had a reputation for making unwarranted and excessive claims against their own customers for vehicle damage, so I would be concerned that the repair charges might be excessive and/or that they might seek an unwarranted amount for the loss of business while the car was being repaired and unavailable for hire (e.g. if they have plenty of other cars of the same type that have not been hired out while the damaged car is being repaired, then clearly they have not suffered a financial loss as a result of the car being unavailable to hire out). Similarly, if the repair cost quoted seems excessive, that is something I would check on, e.g. asking for a breakdown of the repair cost and asking another vehicle repairer if it was a reasonable amount.

Under the circumstances, I hope you do have insurance cover and that my comments above are academic.

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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby Vorpal » 25 Jul 2018, 6:54am

IMO, the main reason to hire a lawyer at this point would be to argue the size of the claim from the other party.

If the claim is large, it could save money to hire someone. If it isn't, it may not be worthwhile.
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thirdcrank
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby thirdcrank » 25 Jul 2018, 7:40am

Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting paying for legal advice now, but the OP seems to have already accepted total responsibility which may not be appropriate. Plenty of solicitors will give a short initial consultation free and if that resulted in confirmation of total liability, then it's just a matter of negotiation. The OP has suffered quite serious injury which might dwarf the damage claim against them.
=================================
PS If somebody injured in a crash came on looking for tips on making a compo claim on a DIY basis, I think we'd be recommending seeing a solicitor who would operate on some form of no-win, no-fee. We'd caution that the law is rarely clear-cut. The only difference here is that the OP has decided their case is hopeless. Their analysis may be right, or not; there may well be something like contributory negligence by the other party. We don't know. After a crash like this, the injured person may not be on top form. A quick decision without advice now may lead to regret in the longer term. Lawyers operate the initial sifting service to separate the wheat from the chaff with good reason.

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Cunobelin
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby Cunobelin » 25 Jul 2018, 9:18am

It will be very dependent upon the insurance policy.

It may even be that you are covered for the other vehicle, but not the injuries

slowster
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby slowster » 25 Jul 2018, 9:27am

I agree that someone involved in an accident is often not the best judge of whether or not they were at fault. If it is the case that the OP is being too harsh on himself in considering it to be completely his fault, and actually there were other factors that contributed to the accident occurring, then he might indeed need to contact a solicitor before waiting to receive a claim from the hire company, in order to start gathering the information/evidence that would be needed both to defend against any claim from the hire company and possibly also to make a claim for his injuries against whoever was also responsible for the accident occurring (assuming they can be identified).

For example, the hire car might not have pulled out in front of the OP as he stated, but it might have been poorly positioned on the road, e.g. over the centre line, giving the OP no space to avoid it; or the road might have been contaminated with oil which greatly increased his braking distance and made it impossible to stop in time.

The important thing in such a situation is to gather that evidence at an early stage: it will much more difficult - if not impossible - to do so if he waits several months until he receives the claim from the hire company.

I presume that the police attended the accident, and will have undertaken some sort of investigation of what happened. If so, their report would probably be important/decisive evidence in any legal claim, and would presumably be available to the OP.

Vorpal wrote:IMO, the main reason to hire a lawyer at this point would be to argue the size of the claim from the other party.

If the claim is large, it could save money to hire someone. If it isn't, it may not be worthwhile.

Unless the solicitor is a specialist in precisely this field, e.g. they undertake a lot of work for motor insurers, then there would probably be no point hiring them at this stage. When it comes to matters of quantum, as opposed to liability, most solicitors are generalists and will have limited specialist knowledge to assess the validity of quantum: they will rely on their own general knowledge and common sense (which the OP himself has) and/or where necessary on specialists, e.g. on a motor vehicle claims assessor to tell them whether the amount claimed for vehicle repairs is reasonable or excessive.

If 100% liability is/will be accepted already, then it only makes sense to consider hiring a solicitor when a claim is received and if there is good reason to believe it is excessive. In other words, the OP should do some of the investigating/reviewing of the claim to satisfy himself that it seems excessive before paying a solicitor to get involved.

For example, if the hire company tells him it is claiming (an obviously excessive) £500 per day for two weeks for loss of use of the hire car, in the OP's shoes I would write myself to the hire company and ask for a detailed breakdown of how they came to that figure, e.g. daily hire rate for that vehicle, any cost savings that they might have made as a result of the vehicle not being hired out, proof that it would have been hired out for the whole period etc. The hire company should be able to provide a detailed breakdown of its claim from its own accounts and spreadsheets.

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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby Vorpal » 25 Jul 2018, 9:39am

Fair enough. And TC also makes a good point that free legal help, or first consultation may be worthwhile.
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thirdcrank
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby thirdcrank » 25 Jul 2018, 11:01am

Almost thirty years ago now, my car was written off when I was shunted. It was in the early days of accident management companies but I was provided with an Avis hire car at no cost to me the same afternoon and I returned it on the day I received my new replacement. Some weeks later, I had a call from the accident management people checking when I was likely to return the hire car. Somewhere along the line there had been an administrative slip which I presume was sorted out. By coincidence, the other driver was insured by the same company as mine. They were never likely to spend time negotiating with themselves over the final bill.

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mjr
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby mjr » 26 Jul 2018, 9:10am

thirdcrank wrote: By coincidence, the other driver was insured by the same company as mine. They were never likely to spend time negotiating with themselves over the final bill.

You say that, but a relative of mine worked for a motor insurer and wrote (as instructed, usually variations on standard ones) letters for a few different offices and at one time, ended up sending letters to herself about a collision between two insured parties! The two cases were handled by different offices and they had to follow certain rules to ensure both of the insureds got as good treatment as if they had different insurers, lest the regulator step in and pass one case to the MIB to ensure non-collusion (with the insurer paying the MIB's costs).
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thirdcrank
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby thirdcrank » 26 Jul 2018, 9:18am

They work in weird and wonderful ways. FWIW, I don't think motor insurers would intentionally fiddle somebody, although they don't give money away. I was trying to illustrate how a cock-up might leave somebody paying car hire charges which had not been incurred: in my case I was scrupulous about returning the hire car promptly - I did it as part of the trip to collect the new car - and doing all the paperwork. However, car hire / leasing companies etc and accident management companies seem to have a terrible reputation for inflating charges.

PuncturedBicycle
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby PuncturedBicycle » 26 Jul 2018, 9:12pm

Thanks for all the replies.

I contacted my insurance company and I am covered on my house policy for public liability. Just have to wait now and see if the car hire company start a claim against me.

Many thanks

Cyril Haearn
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Re: advice about crash - uninsured

Postby Cyril Haearn » 26 Jul 2018, 9:30pm

thirdcrank wrote:Almost thirty years ago now, my car was written off when I was shunted. It was in the early days of accident management companies but I was provided with an Avis hire car at no cost to me the same afternoon and I returned it on the day I received my new replacement. Some weeks later, I had a call from the accident management people checking when I was likely to return the hire car. Somewhere along the line there had been an administrative slip which I presume was sorted out. By coincidence, the other driver was insured by the same company as mine. They were never likely to spend time negotiating with themselves over the final bill.

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