By Bob Mionske
Posted Dec. 26, 2002
Legally Speaking – with 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 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.
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