Saturday, July 21, 2007

legal babble

Its been a month and a half since I met the side of a Subaru Legacy wagon while riding in Stoneham around The Fells. After Hanover insurance denied the claim for damages to my Roubaix RC I sought out the legal advice of Andrew Fischer, a Boston area cycling advocate and lawyer. We decided then that we would pursue an unfair settlement suit, a consumer protection that prevents insurance companies from doing what they do best: not paying.

Some time had gone by since I met with the lawyer, and I had convinced myself that I wasn't going to see that money or my lawyers fees back in my pocket. (As a side note - thanks to those who contributed to the fee). Yesterday I received the draft of the letter to be sent.

First off, lawyers are completely ridiculous. Some quotes:

Despite the clear and indisputable liability of Hanover's insured, Hanover has denied Mr. Winkler's claim, asserting, contrary to indisputable evidence, that the accident was caused by the supposed negligence of Mr. Winkler, who did nothing but proceed lawfully along the roadway where he had the right of way, and where he should have been, according to Massachusetts law.

7. Having received no offer of settlement, let alone a reasonable offer, in response to his claim, Mr. Winkler is now compelled to institute litigation to recover the damages he sustained as a result of your insured’s negligence.

Indisputable evidence! I'm already convinced, but then it gets better:

8. Hanover's claims department has clearly failed to read and comprehend the applicable sections of the Massachusetts General Laws. Hanover wrote, in a letter to Mr. Winkler on June 21, 2007 (attached hereto as Exhibit B), "When operating a bicycle in Massachusetts, it is said to use the same rules and regulations as of a vehicle [sic]". Hanover proceeded to make reference to M.G.L. ch. 85 § 11B, the very section that explicitly permits the operation of a bicycle to the right of motor vehicles in the same lane when passing. The statute reads, "[T]he bicycle operator may keep to the right when passing a motor vehicle which is moving in the travel lane of the way". M.G.L. ch. 85 § 11B.


12. As a result of the above described bad faith settlement practices, Mr. Winkler has suffered undue delays in resolving his claims, as well as other damages. This has caused Mr. Winkler anguish and mental suffering and has prevented him from engaging in his usual life’s activities. In addition, the undue delay caused by Hanover's bad faith has caused Mr. Winkler to incur substantial legal fees which would otherwise have been unnecessary. Further, by delaying payment to Mr. Winkler, Hanover can continue to earn interest for a prolonged additional period of time on the money it should be promptly paying to Mr. Winkler.

Anguish? Mental suffering? I must really love that bike. I think if this goes to court I'll come up with some sort of tee shirt depicting the demise of my

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