Loud bang! Lawyers, help!

Arde

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After so many years of offering unsolicited opinions on this forum it is time to ask for advice.
Slowly driving the e39 M5 on the right side of a down sloped San Francisco street. Night time, no car light in the mirrors behind me so I took the time to park it right. As I start to exit the car I thought the car blew up with a very loud noise. An electric rental scooter was making its way down and hit my open door. Some damage to the door due to the over extension. The scooter guy probably hit the door frame around his chest. I helped him to the curve with some other friends of his. Called 911 and stayed through the ambulance and police phases. His own friends acted as visual witnesses confirming it was not my fault. The report still assigns me the fault. The scooter person admitted he was drinking beers before, and of course was wearing no helmet. The scooter had a tiny LED light somewhere. I saw all dark and no vehicles behind me all along.

Do I need a lawyer? Should I go to the judge and contest the fault determination?
The M5 is really well built.
 

dang

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I can't help you legally but was any of their statements documented at the scene? Meaning, were their statements taken by police and put in the report even though the fault was put on you? If you try to contest, what do you have to prove your side? It really gets down to the end game. What are the possible outcomes as-is versus contesting with an attorney, and would it be worth it?

EDIT: Also, the only thing I found that might be helpful is that electric scooters can only be operated on roads that are 25mph or less. Sounds like you might have been on a 25mph street but I thought I'd throw that out there.

(this is for bicyclists in an urban setting getting "doored")
Arguing a Defense
There is a possible strategy to employ against claims for compensation when injuries require medical treatment. If there is no traffic when the door is opened, the defending party may argue that there was at least a chance that the opened door could be avoided. In these situations, it may be explained that the biker is partially responsible. This means he or she may not receive any or all compensation sought. When a lawyer is used to assist the defending party, various strategies may be used to avoid monetary payouts. When the cyclist is partially at fault in the incident, he or she may end up failing at a suit when it is proven in a case.
 
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oneills

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I can't help you legally but was any of their statements documented at the scene? Meaning, were their statements taken by police and put in the report even though the fault was put on you? If you try to contest, what do you have to prove your side? It really gets down to the end game. What are the possible outcomes as-is versus contesting with an attorney, and would it be worth it?

EDIT: Also, the only thing I found that might be helpful is that electric scooters can only be operated on roads that are 25mph or less. Sounds like you might have been on a 25mph street but I thought I'd throw that out there.

(this is for bicyclists in an urban setting getting "doored")
Arguing a Defense
There is a possible strategy to employ against claims for compensation when injuries require medical treatment. If there is no traffic when the door is opened, the defending party may argue that there was at least a chance that the opened door could be avoided. In these situations, it may be explained that the biker is partially responsible. This means he or she may not receive any or all compensation sought. When a lawyer is used to assist the defending party, various strategies may be used to avoid monetary payouts. When the cyclist is partially at fault in the incident, he or she may end up failing at a suit when it is proven in a case.
In Pennsylvania it is my "understanding" that one should NEVER admit that they, for example, "tried to stop but couldn't quite do it." This, in the insurance company's eyes shifts some of the responsibility to the person who is not to blame/at fault. So in that situation one admits to NOTHING. Personally, I would say, "I never got my foot off the gas." "They were not there, then they were there."

For what it's worth.
 

sfdon

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If you are involved in a vehicle accident that occurred in California, you must report it to DMV if:

  • There was property damage of more than $1,000 ($750 for accidents prior to January 1, 2017) or
  • Anyone was injured (no matter how minor) or
  • Anyone was killed.
Each driver must make a report to DMV within 10 days, whether you caused the accident or not and even if the accident occurred on private property. Mail the completed report form to the address on the form.
 

jmackro

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Two thoughts:

- While I understand sfdon's post - that you need to report accidents involving injury to the DMV - wouldn't your insurance company take care of that?

- Regarding Arde's need for an attorney: We can discuss the street's speed limit, whether at-the-scene witness gave statements, etc. all day long, BUT the real issue is whether the scooter driver decides to sue. Anyone can sue anyone over anything. It may be a ridiculous suit, but if you are at the receiving end, you still need to defend yourself. When I have been involved in these situations, my insurance company has provided the legal representation as part of my coverage.

So my advice would be to talk with your insurance company and see what they advise.
 

Arde

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Thanks for the useful inputs. The street seems to be a 25mph streeet. I have a copy of the police report, if I decide to use all the witness info I may have to subpoena them. I will notify the insurance and probably go to the judge either in person or written trial.
 

sfdon

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Two thoughts:

- While I understand sfdon's post - that you need to report accidents involving injury to the DMV - wouldn't your insurance company take care of that?

- Regarding Arde's need for an attorney: We can discuss the street's speed limit, whether at-the-scene witness gave statements, etc. all day long, BUT the real issue is whether the scooter driver decides to sue. Anyone can sue anyone over anything. It may be a ridiculous suit, but if you are at the receiving end, you still need to defend yourself. When I have been involved in these situations, my insurance company has provided the legal representation as part of my coverage.

So my advice would be to talk with your insurance company and see what they advise.
Correct- your insurance company will file the form. Whoops! Sounds like the smart answer is to file yourself. Thanks Chris.
 
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HB Chris

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Insurance will NOT file the DMV report, they will only tell you to do it. Just went through this. If you weren't ticketed you won’t be going before a judge unless someone sues. If that doesn’t happen you only really care if DMV says you are at fault, do they?

If no tickets or prior accidents your Insurance likely won’t be raising your rates.
 

JayWltrs

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Not familiar with California, so I don’t know what the report assigning blame is here, but it sounds like you received no ticket & the reporting officer would only be one witness. In that event it would largely be up to your insurance company on how to handle, but that can differ drastically from co-to-co & even from adjuster-to-aduster. That’s where things get sideways. If your insurance co assigns an attorney to represent you, just remember that atty can’t rep you via-a-vis the ins co, if they act like jerks. And the magic phrase there IS from a California case: ”Cumis counsel.” You need Cumis counsel to rep you on matters vs ins co.

And mandatory reporting? 5th Amdnt much out there?
 

bavbob

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Would seem to me that no helmet, alcohol and poor lighting would add up to scooter guy getting ticketed and a good defense. In Ma, you gotta be at least 51% at fault, doesn't sound like you are there ( I wont get 0n a soap box how you can assign a numerical value to judgement and opinion, but they do). Still, my heart goes out to you, I was there and this is stressful. Hope the guy is reasonable and sees his poor judgement.
 

Wes

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Ordinarily you are attributed 10% fault just for being there.
Unless you are served with a writ I wouldn't worry about the incident too much.
Just make sure you spell out all the particulars in any insurance claim you may make, just to future proof yourself.
Also keep the details of any police report or as a minimum the name of the officer on scene.
Would usually charge you a fortune for this legal advice but seeing as you also own an E9 and I find your posts amusing :)
 

dang

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My daughter was in a car accident last Friday and the police report put the other driver at fault, but I talked to the officer and he said it usually helps but the insurance company(s) have final say as to how things get paid. She had a $20k surgery on her wrist yesterday so I'm hoping fault stays with the other driver..
 

WALTER

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As an aside, I hate those electrical rental scooters. They are dangerous: too fast, no one wears helmets like you are supposed to; and they are strewn about like litter. People have already been killed on them and there is not a week that goes by were I don't see a near miss accident with one. I live in Virginia Beach where it is flat, I can't imagine riding those scooters around on those steep hills in San Francisco.
 

sfdon

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I own 2 of them.... installed extra battery so I’m clocking the 24 volt motor with 42 volts. Added a key and lock, voltmeter and twist grip throttle. GPS says I can do 24mph. My 13 year old daughter and rip up the sidewalks of our little island town and have a blast on the way to the local Elks lodge bar. (She drinks root beer)
We always wear helmets!
 

Arde

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Ordinarily you are attributed 10% fault just for being there.
Unless you are served with a writ I wouldn't worry about the incident too much.
Just make sure you spell out all the particulars in any insurance claim you may make, just to future proof yourself.
Also keep the details of any police report or as a minimum the name of the officer on scene.
Would usually charge you a fortune for this legal advice but seeing as you also own an E9 and I find your posts amusing :)
Awesome. My next choice is whether to appear in person to contest the fault decision in front of the judge.
The scooter was coming at about 20feet per second, downhill, in the dark, very close laterally to the car, with tiny LED illumination. I am tempted to record a video of that scenario to dramatize
the imposibility of avoiding the accident.
The scooter sees my lights and parking brakes as I park, sees the light turning off, what happens next? Only alcohol can explain how you can ignore that pattern.
 

Markos

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Dooring laws are almost identical in every state, and favor the bicyclist. My sister has been doored more times than she can count. Sometimes a bicyclist can take the lane but other times you have no option but to ride close to parked cars.

I’m not sure how this law applies to scooters. Scooter shares are going to become much more popular in urban areas. I’m all for responsible usage of any motorized vehicle but expect idiots to come out of the woodwork. Ask any serious bike commuter what they think of “bike to work month”. :D

https://krasneylaw.net/blog/california-dooring-law-places-liability-with-motorists-not-bicyclists/
 

JayWltrs

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I think the scooters can be great. But I've had them u-turn or pull in front of me in ways no pedestrian, cyclist, or car would ever do. I really dislike the idea they would be protected by these types of laws, which encourage dumb 2-wheeled behavior. I fought the cyclist vs. homicidal cabs (they seriously tried to hit us) wars in DC for the better part of a decade, and I'd rather ride the center line or lane cut than ride next to parallel-parked cars. If you're not willing/able to take the lane or find a calmer route, you shouldn't be there on a bike, not because cars have a higher claim to the roads or for any public policy reason, but pure self-preservation mandates you never put yourself in a position to get doored, especially at night. Laws don't change that basic human risk and shouldn't encourage cyclists or scooters to do so. Two-wheeled travel requires constant vigilance in traffic, and I'm all for laws for protecting motos, scooters, and bikes, but sometimes the incentives can work to their detriment.
 
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