Legally Speaking – with Bob Mionske
By Bob Mionske
Dear Mr. Mionske,
My bicycle was totaled when it was run over by a truck. I was waiting at a red light on the right shoulder when the truck driver also waiting at the light, began a right on red turn. I saw that the trailer was going to hit me and tried to move out of the way. The wheel hit my front wheel and I jumped off the bike and was able to avoided being hit, but the bike was crushed under the rear wheels of the truck. The trucker’s insurance company offered to pay for the bike and asked me to get an estimate to replace it.
My local shop provided me with an estimate for $3500, which is less than I paid. I submitted this to the insurance company and just received a letter with an enclosed check of $2100. The letter said that because the bike was four years old, they estimated that it had depreciated 40 percent (10 percent a year).
My bike was in excellent condition, had many new components and I cannot replace it with $2100. What should I do?
Have you been a nice boy this year? Maybe you got what you needed under the Christmas tree on Wednesday morning. On the other hand, you could send the check back, contact the insurance company representative and reject their offer and demand the entire $3500. The argument that the bicycle depreciates 10 percent a year is ridiculous. According to that logic, my 1993 Specialized Epic Allez is worth zero!
This 10 percent per annum depreciation of property value is used by some insurance companies to determine the replacement value of automobiles and is simply not applicable to bicycles. While some diminution of value is reasonable, 30 and 40 percent is excessive if the bicycle was well maintained.
If you are unable to come to an agreeable replacement value with the insurance company, contact me directly and I will assist you pro bono.
Happy Holidays- Bob
Too late to settle up?
I was injured when a car pulled out in front of me while I was riding my bike to class. I broke my wrist and collarbone as a result. The accident happened in the spring of 2000 in Madison, Wisconsin. I have since graduated and moved back home. I talked to the driver’s insurance company a few times and received a letter offering to bring the matter to a conclusion, but have had no contact with them since the summer of 2000. Can I still request payment for my damages or is it too late?
Wisconsin has a three-year statute of limitations. This is the statutory time limitation period within which a claim must be settled or formally filed as a lawsuit in the appropriate Court.
If your personally injury claim is not settled within three years of the date of the accident, a lawsuit must be filed to preserve and further pursue your claim. If the claim is not timely settled or if a lawsuit is not filed, the claim will be forever barred.
I recommend you contact the insurance company as soon as possible and discuss settling your claim. If you are not able to come to a mutually acceptable sum, you should consider consulting with an attorney. Remember, your rights are extinguished on the date of your accident this spring of 2003.
Good luck- Bob
Bob Mionske is a former competitive cyclist who represented the U.S. at the 1988 Olympic games (where he finished fourth in the road race), the 1992 Olympics, as well as winning the 1990 National Championship Road Race.After retiring from racing in 1993 he coached the Saturn Professional Cycling team for one year before heading off to law school. Mionske’s practice is now split between personal injury work, representing professional athletes as an agent and other legal issues facing endurance athletes (traffic violations, contract, criminal charges, intellectual property etc).If you have a cycling related legal question please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob will answer as many of these questions privately as he can. He will also select a few questions each week to answer on VeloNews.com. General bicycle accident advice can be found at www.bicyclelaw.com.Important Notice:
The information provided in the “Legally speaking” column is not legal advice. The information provided on this public web site is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors to this web site. The information contained in the column applies to general principles of American jurisprudence and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in the various jurisdictions and therefore should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. Understand that reading the information contained in this column does not mean you have established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Bob Mionske. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained in the web site without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.