Tag Archive for car insurance

Guest Post: Bikes Have Rights™*

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Make Sure You’re Protected Before You Need To Be

 
By James L. Pocrass, Esq.
Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

 

I recently represented a cyclist who was the victim of a hit and run accident that broke almost every bone in his body and caused traumatic brain injuries. The driver of the car turned out to be a 19-year-old woman who was driving drunk. She claimed not to have known that she hit my client, in spite of his leaving nine teeth in her SUV’s back seat.

My client’s medical bills were astronomical and because of the brain injuries, his life would never be same. The compensation my client received from this case would be his primary source of income for the rest of his life. The woman’s insurance company wanted to settle the claim for “policy limits,” which is the maximum amount they are required to compensate a victim of serious personal injuries or even a wrongful death.

Policy limits is how much insurance you bought in a specific category. In California, you are required to carry car insurance of $15,000 per person for bodily injury liability; $30,000 per accident, which covers all persons hurt in one accident; and $5,000 for property damage liability for one accident. It is likely that your insurance policy includes a minimal amount of uninsured and under-insured auto insurance, but rarely is it a significant amount.

If you suffer catastrophic personal injuries or a family member is lost in a wrongful death due to a motor vehicle accident (car, bicycle, motorcycle, truck, bus, boat), your damages (medical and economic) could cost hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars.

The person who was negligent is responsible for your damages. (In some cases, negligence may include one or more companies or a public entity like the state or a county, but for the purposes of this article we are focusing on individual drivers.) Their insurance company will cover those damages only to the limits of the individual’s insurance policy.

If the person who caused your accident owns a house or other property, you may be able to recover some monies from them after a long and expensive court process. You might even be able to garnish any money they earn or receive in the future.

But many drivers own nothing – or not enough – to ever come close to compensating you for your injuries or for your lost loved one.  You will be on your own to pay your medical and therapy bills, to subsidize your living expenses either for the short or long-term, to pay childcare expenses, and to replace your destroyed property.

The best way to protect yourself from this disaster is to carry as much uninsured and under-insured auto insurance as your insurance company will permit you to buy. The cost is pennies on the dollar.  The more you have to lose (meaning the more you own or could own in the future), the more uninsured and under-insured auto insurance you should have.

Uninsured and under-insured auto insurance protects you when you are hit by a driver who has no insurance (and a Los Angeles County sheriff told me recently that in approximately 50 percent of all motor vehicle accidents he sees the driver is uninsured). It also kicks in when you reach the maximum the OTHER driver’s insurance will pay. It compensates you for the difference between what the other driver’s policy limit is and the actual compensation you need to recoup from the damages caused by the accident.

Uninsured and under-insured auto insurance also protects you if you suffer serious personal injuries (or worse) in a hit-and-run accident. With the frightening rise in hit-and-runs, it is critical that you protect yourself.

In my client’s case, I was able to negotiate additional monies from the woman’s family. Though I was able to recover a multi-million dollar settlement for this client, it is still nowhere near what he should have received considering the damages she inflicted on him and for which he will have to live with for the rest of his life.

My hope for you is that you never need to use your uninsured and under-insured auto insurance, but I urge you strongly to get as much uninsured and under-insurance auto coverage that your insurance company will allow you to purchase, before you need it.

*California Vehicle Code 21200: A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle. . .

For more than 25 years, Jim Pocrass has represented people who were seriously injured, or families who lost a loved one in a wrongful death, due to the carelessness or negligence of another. Jim is repeatedly named to Best Lawyers of America and to Southern California Super Lawyers for the outstanding results he consistently achieves for his clients. Having represented hundreds of cyclists during his career, and Jim’s own interest in cycling, have resulted in him becoming a bicycle advocate. He is a board member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.  For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Jim Pocrass at 310.550.9050 or at info@pocrass.com.*

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Monday morning meditations from a muddled mind — hit-and-runs, Bob Filner and podium girls

Sometimes there’s just too much swirling around my head to focus on any one thing. And not enough coffee in all the Starbucks in all of LA to clarify things.

Which is exactly where I am this morning.

A day when I can breath a sign of relief that my morning search for bike news didn’t turn up any major bad news for SoCal cyclists. Although the word from other places near and far isn’t nearly as good.

And you’d think that an old man using a walker would be able to cross a damn LA street without getting run down by some jackass who doesn’t have the basic human decency to stop his or her goddamn car after killing another human being.

Drivers continue to flee the scene of collisions because current law means even if they do get caught, they’re better off getting charged for hit-and-run than DUI, or may not have a valid license and insurance for whatever reason.

Then again, some drivers just bet that they can get away with it.

And usually do.

Not to mention we seem to live in a society that has lost sight of the value of human life.

And all of those things have to change before anything else will.

Then again, it would help if the press took the matter more seriously. Or at least cared enough to dig a little deeper and get the story right.

As for insurance, there was a proposal several years back to include basic state-run liability coverage for every motorist in the cost of gas. Whenever you paid at the pump, a fee would be added to ensure that every victim of every collision would be protected from every driver.

Which means you’d never again have to worry how you’re going to pay your mounting medical bills after some driver ran you into the ground.

Needless to say, it didn’t go anywhere, for any number of reasons, valid and otherwise. Not the least of which was that bad drivers would pay the same rate as good ones, even though they could receive supplemental billing to make up for a lack of driving ability. Never mind that the state should be focused on getting bad drivers off the streets.

Plus some provision would have to be made for electric and hybrid vehicles. And state run auto insurance sounded a lot like communism to some people.

Then there’s the news from our neighbor to the south that scumbag Mayor Bob Filner is stepping down at the end of this week.

Political leaders have long felt entitled to do anything they damn well pleased when it came to sexual behavior. Mostly because no one held them accountable for much of American history.

Though you’d think the long line of embarrassed elected leaders stretching from Gary Hart through Bill Clinton and onto New York’s Anthony Weiner would convince them to keep their damn zippers closed in inappropriate situations.

All of which would appear to have little to do with bicycling.

Except Weiner had tried, with varying success, to reposition himself as a bike-friendly candidate after earlier threatening to tear out New York’s bike lanes. And appeared to be winning some support before the latest round of sexting revelations.

And San Diego has been making great strides under Filner’s leadership to reverse decades of benign — and sometimes, not so benign — neglect of bicyclists.

Which may, or may not, continue under the next administration that replaces him.

Thanks, Bob.

No, really.

At least there’s better news from my home state, where a new generation of bike racers took center stage. Colorado’s Tejay van Garderen took first place and Peter Sagan won four of the seven stages, while Christian Vande Velde called it a career at yet another successful USA Pro Challenge.

Even though the race continues to allow women just token participation, while demonstrating that the best way for a woman to get on a racing podium is to put on a tight dress and kiss the winner when the race is over.

And if any local bike shops are thinking about using podium girls at any races you might sponsor, don’t.

Just don’t.

And yes, I’m talking to you.

Think of the message you send women riders — and your potential customers — when you treat them like trophies instead of handing them one.

And the mixed message you send more than counteracts any good will you might earn by sponsoring women’s races.

Keep sponsoring competitions for both sexes. But drop the podium girls, already.

After all, it’s hard enough for women riders to get the respect they deserve — let alone compete on equal terms with male riders — when you treat them with as much respect as Bob Filner might.

Don’t get me wrong.

I enjoy looking at an attractive woman as much as any man.

But what really makes a woman attractive, to me at least, is knowing she could drop me on a steep uphill ride anytime she damn well feels like it.

Now that’s hot.

Almost as hot as watching a woman receive a hard-earned prize for outracing the world’s best riders, instead of just being one.

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