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NSW Collision with Car - Help with Financial Damage Control?

Discussion in 'Traffic Law Forum' started by Urs, 8 September 2016.

  1. Urs

    Urs Active Member

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    Hi,

    Thanks in advance for reading this. Here is what happened:
    1. I was crossing an intersection on my bicycle on orange light - it turned orange when I was too close to the stop line to stop.
    2. My intention was to go straight through the intersection when traffic coming from the opposite direction, and trying to turn right, turned into my way.
    3. I had to slow down and move around a car, which took the 3-4 seconds from me I would have needed to make it across. The car that cut me off left the scene without anyone taking note of the number plate.
    4. As they had seen a green light, traffic started moving (from the left) and I collided with one of those cars.
    5. I was taken to hospital before being able to take photos of the damage caused to the car.
    As a result of this:
    1. My left knee had to be stitched up and both knees are badly swollen. Police questioned me at hospital after I had been treated.
    2. My road bike is a write-off (worth about $1500) and so is my helmet, as I landed on my head (the knees got injured from the impact of the car).
    3. Police has hinted they see responsibility with me, as I "didn't approach the intersection safely". I told them I was travelling with 40km/h and didn't have enough space to stop when the light turned orange.
    4. The car insurance of the driver of the car that I collided with ( NRMA) has called me and asked for my version of the event. Given I have no details of the car that cut me off, they intend to hold me liable.
    5. I have called the lady that drove the car and she said she has put NRMA and a garage in touch. The garage has quoted $1500-$2000 for the repairs. Police had told me the car only had minor damage.
    6. I've called police and asked them whether they intend to review camera footage of the intersection (if it exists). They said they cannot disclose details of the investigation, but hinted they consider the conversation with the lady and myself sufficient and deem me at fault.
    I was obviously lucky to walk away without major injuries, but would like to ask for help regarding financial damage control. Initial ideas that I have are:
    1. Find out if there is video footage of the intersection and how I can get hold of it
    2. Challenge any fine police hands me (although I know success chances of this are low)
    3. Call the lady again to find out her address and assess the damage, so I can figure out whether the garage is trying to rip off me (or NRMA, as they probably think insurance will pay for the repair)
    4. Call garage, explain to them that NRMA is refusing to pay and ask them to take into consideration I'm not responsible, yet being asked to pay
    Any feedback will be appreciated.
     
  2. SamanthaJay

    SamanthaJay Well-Known Member

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    Re: the quote to fix the vehicle, you can ask for them to supply a 2nd quote. NRMA will most likely be trying to arrange the repair through their own smash repairer or their approved smash repairer. There is no law saying that this has to happen. Stand your ground.
     
  3. Urs

    Urs Active Member

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    Thanks for your reply. I've contacted Roads and Maritime Services through their website to find out if there is video coverage. Haven't heard back yet. Apart from that, NRMA has called me and asked me for my latest address, so they can forward the claim.

    What you're saying makes a lot of sense. The lady I collided with has told me that NRMA and the smash repair place have been put in touch. Do you mean I have the right to ask NRMA to get a second quote, or would I have to go through the lady?

    In case I can't acquire camera footage and prove that I'm not responsible, I was also thinking about contacting the lady again and settling the case privately. If I understood NRMA correctly, she needs to pay $600 excess, which could mean she's more open for a cash offer from my side.

    Any further feedback and thoughts will be appreciated.
     
  4. SamanthaJay

    SamanthaJay Well-Known Member

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    Yes, you can either ask NRMA to provide another quote (and I would probably request that it was not one of their approved repairers so you could nominate a repairer but check if they are one of NRMA's) or just go straight to the lady involved and try and settle with her directly. But firstly, definitely wait to see if you can retrieve video.

    If dealing with NRMA, I imagine you will get the run around and they will be very insistent on using their own/approved repairer but like I said, stand your ground. It's just another way they make more money.
     
  5. Urs

    Urs Active Member

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    I've done some more reading and it sounds like I'm not legally entitled to get a second quote. So I guess I can just ask NRMA, but not really enforce it in any way?

    I'm also wondering if I'm legally entitled to see the damage on the car. I've called the person with the other car and she has refused to meet me. Is there any way I can enforce seeing the car?

    I'm quite concerned about the initial quote of the panel beater (1500-2000 AUD), given police told me theyou had only seen minor damage.
     
  6. SamanthaJay

    SamanthaJay Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I just read similar but I think it's still reasonable to request a 2nd quote.

    I'm not sure about being legally entitled to see the damage on the car.

    Thirdly, smash repairs are costly. I know it's very hard to believe sometimes but to the layman, it looks as though such minor damage should not cost so much to fix. I guess once they have to remove the panel (or it might have affected 2 panels), remove dents if possible or perhaps even replace the panel/s, process before painting and then paint job, it all adds up.

    It's unusual because you were on a bike but if you were in another vehicle, you would have mostly likely have had your own insurance and your insurance company would have fought to have the repair work done for less. It wouldn't have been a concern for you at all because you would have only paid your excess.
     
  7. GC.

    GC. Active Member

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    Firstly, don't admit fault to their insurance company. Even if you believe you are completely in the wrong, don't admit fault. If you have to pay for repairs, you can do this without admitting fault. Insurance companies will often pressure you to admit fault, but this does nothing other than to make it easier for them to sue you.

    Secondly, is there any other way for you to get legal advice? Do you belong to NRMA roadside assistance? I believe that they offer free legal advice in this area to members. You should also check the PDS for your home contents insurance. My home is insured with NRMA and the policy covers me for this sort of thing (generic liability for incidents that happen outside the home).

    Thirdly, why are you at fault? I can't find any specific road rule that you have broken. You weren't able to stop on the yellow, and the intersection wasn't blocked when you entered it as the car started turning right afterwards. You were also legally required to leave the intersection as soon as you could do so safely (rule 57 or 61 depending on whether you had to stop when the car turned in front of you).

    Where exactly did you impact on the car? If you struck the side of the car then they would make the argument that you would have been more aware of the situation than the car driver. However if the front of the car struck your side then I would argue that you were not at fault as a green light does not allow other drivers to accelerate into the side of you if the intersection is still blocked by cross traffic (road rule 128).

    If you made the decision to continue across the intersection (after being cut off by the right turning car) while the cross traffic was visible and still stationary, then I would argue that it is 100% the other driver's fault.

    Have you received a fine from the police yet? If so, what was the exact charge? I can't see them fining you for unsafe approach to the intersection as from your account there was no issue there, and I doubt that they have any witnesses who even saw you until just prior to the point of impact.

    As I said above, I can't see any road rules that you've broken. Maybe they'll try negligent driving, but if you took it to court they would have to prove that you were negligent. If it were me, I'd give serious consideration to contesting any fine (remember, in court it is the police that have to prove you are guilty, not you having to prove innocence).

    Also, if you believe that it's not your fault, then you can offer a "without prejudice" payment of part of the amount in exchange for an agreement that all liabilities are settled. If there is doubt over who is liable, then the insurance company may accept this as it will cost them money to contest such a small amount in court.

    FYI, I am not a lawyer. I am a cyclist who is regularly in this situation (opposing traffic gets a green light before I have cleared the intersection) and so I sympathise with your predicament. I am very interested in how this goes, should you decide to fight it.
     
  8. Urs

    Urs Active Member

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    SamanthaJay and GC, thanks a lot for your replies. Good to see there are cyclists who help each other out in cycling-unfriendly Sydney. I've reviewed the referenced road rules. For other reader's reference, they're:

    AUSTRALIAN ROAD RULES - REG 128Entering blocked intersections
    AUSTRALIAN ROAD RULES - REG 57Stopping for a yellow traffic light or arrow
    AUSTRALIAN ROAD RULES - REG 61Proceeding when traffic lights or arrows at an intersection change to yellow or red
    ROAD TRANSPORT ACT 2013 - SECT 117Negligent, furious or reckless driving

    Like I mentioned above, police have argued I approached the intersection unsavely. I disagree with that. Even though I told them I was going "as fast as I could in the flat with about 40km/h", I couldn't have stopped in front of the stop line. I haven't received anything from police yet, but will try to speak to them today to see if they took photos of the damaged car.

    I'm actually considering to make a claim with NRMA myself now to get compensated for the damage to my road bike. Before I do that, I will discuss this thought with a solicitor, whom I'm meeting tonight (I found this through Legal Aid NSW)

    I've also filled in an Accident Description and Diagram document that NRMA sent me. At this stage, my reply to the question "Who do you see at fault" is (a) the driver that cut me off and (b) the lady that hit me, as she violated road rule 128. She probably didn't see me coming and was just looking straight, but she hit me full-on from the left, which makes me think she could have reacted a lot better to the situation (there was another car in the second lane next to her that saw me and stopped).

    Anyway, will update this with the outcomes of tonights meeting.
     
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  9. Urs

    Urs Active Member

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    Advice from the solicitor was to focus on the relationship and negotiation with NRMA, rather than going to court. They consider the amount too small to risk going to court and potentially paying for a whole lot more (NRMA lawyers, etc.).

    Today, I plan to (1) send the Accident Description and Diagram document though to NRMA including the above described notes on whom I consider responsible. And (2), lodge a claim regarding my road bike with NRMA myself.
     
  10. SamanthaJay

    SamanthaJay Well-Known Member

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    That sounds positive. What sort of insurance do you have with NRMA?
     

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