Q&A with Karen R. and Hottman Law Office

Q&A with Karen R. and Hottman Law Office – a cyclist’s perspective of the entire process from start to finish:

[Question] What was your overall experience with the process, beginning with
the Officer's response to the accident, the citation he/she did or did
not issue, the traffic court process (if there was any) and the
 behavior of the driver from start to finish?

[Answer] Having been hit by a car while riding my bicycle to work 
last summer i have experienced both the good and the bad of the whole
 process of dealing with police, insurance companies and the culpable 
driver. in all fairness, dealing with the driver of the vehicle was
the best part of the whole process while dealing with the officer that
investigated the accident was the worst part of the whole process.
the accident was investigated by the Colorado state highway patrol and 
from my first remembered contact with him he gave the impression that
i was at fault, and because there was "no witness" he wouldn't be
giving any citations. however, he proceeded to write his police report 
in such a way as to say that it was his opinion that i had failed to
 yield the right of way at a three way stop and this was because i was 
an "inexperienced" rider. later, when my husband went to the scene 
of the accident to pick up my bike, the officer actually had the nerve
 to tell him that in just the time that he had been investigating the 
accident there had been at least 6 bikes that had ridden through the
 stop sign at the intersection, implying that i had done the same
thing. in fact, i had allowed two cars to go through the stop signs
 and then proceeded to start into the intersection. it was at this 
time that the driver t-boned me in the middle of the intersection. He 
immediately stopped and and began apologizing profusely saying that he
had not seen me.


From that point on the driver contacted my husband while i 
was in the hospital overnight, several times in the days following the
 accident, and then even came by the bike shop where i work to see how I was doing. it was while he was talking with my husband at the 
hospital that he admitted that he had taken the right of way from me
and then again admitted it to me when he visited at the shop. After
 seeking legal counsel I had no further contact with the driver, but up
to that point he had been very concerned about my well being.



During this time I filed a claim with his insurance company to cover
 the cost of replacing my bike and the medical expenses that I was
 incurring. because of the police report slant AGAINST me his
 insurance company flatly turned me down and it was then that i decided
to seek legal counsel.



[Question] What was your overall impression of the civil process in dealing 
with the driver's insurance company from start to finish?

[Answer]
From the outset of my accident, the driver's insurance
 company denied my claim. it was not until i had legal representation 
that his insurance company decided to start paying attention to my
 claim. they had actually told me out right that the police report
 cast me in a very negative light and as far as they were concerned i
was to blame in the accident. at this point i requested a written 
copy of the police report and it was, indeed, damning to me as the
 rider. up to this point, i had had no intentions of seeking an
 attorney, even though the day after the accident a boulder attorney
 contacted the bike shop where i worked and offered that they had
 pictures of the accident and would be willing to represent me!!!!
after much thought i decided to find an attorney that i was
 comfortable with (not one that had pictures of me at the scene of the
 accident!) and then proceeded to hire her. only when my legal counsel
 approached the insurance company with actual facts in the case, i.e.
the driver admitting that he was at fault, that he wanted them to pay
 my damages, that i was indeed an experienced rider,that they agreed to
 replace my damaged bike to start with and then negotiate payment for
my medical bills when we felt that i had reached maximum medical
 improvement. once i had my new bike, they came to pick up the "old"
bike (less than a month old at the time of the accident) at the bike
shop and their adjuster then informed my bike shop that he had bought 
my old bike and would our mechanics please strip the bike of its 
components and put them on his frame! the shop had been very aware of
the fact that their insurance company had denied my claim right off
 the bat and so were none too pleased to be asked to strip and then
 rebuild the adjusters bike with my old components! they basically
 told him to take his bike and find another shop to do the work.



Needless to say, the way the drivers' insurance company handled the
 situation was unprofessional, but given the even more unprofessional
"opinion" of the highway patrol they didn't really have much choice at
 the outset. unfortunately, it took hiring an attorney to put some
"muscle" behind my claim and only then were we able to come to a
 satisfactory resolution to the whole incident, though it has taken a
year to do so.







[Question] Having been through this experience, what advice would you give
other cyclists?

[Answer]Having been through this experience i have learned a number of things:

- no matter how careful or experienced a rider you are, as a cyclist you are extremely vulnerable to inattentive drivers – pay attention!!!!!;

- around boulder, the cops (at least the highway patrol), are not 
big fans of cyclists and automatically assume the cyclist is at fault
 in an accident, so document, document, document!;

- that cops are prejudiced against cyclists BECAUSE so many 
cyclists flaunt the laws of the road and ride as if the rules don't
pertain to them -obey the rules of the road!;

- when involved in an accident ALWAYS try to get the names of
 witnesses if at all possible and request a copy of the police report
immediately;

- don't hesitate to hire a good "cycling" attorney - they know 
the ins and outs of colorado bike law and make negotiating the legal
and insurance mazes so much more palatable;

-DO ride responsibly, obeying ALL the rules of the road because
 it could be you on the receiving end of a biased police report, due to
the prejudice of the police, fostered by the actions of a handful of 
irresponsible riders;


- appreciate every day that you can get out on your bike and 
feel the freedom that comes with pedaling!

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