You may or may not know something about me. I work for a Northwest insurance company, that provides auto, home and boat insurance to our customers. I like to refer to it as the Mighty P. Currently, I am a trainer of new hires. However, 23 years ago, I was the claims cowboy, a liability adjuster who investigated accidents and settled claims.
I tell you this because this post is based on something I read that made both my bike riding and insurance self pretty damn mad!
Earlier this week King 5 news posted an article advising that Washington State was considering moving to a “Presumptive Liability” model for auto accidents involving bikes. What is presumptive liability? To put it simply, the courts would assume that the car was always at fault when there was an accident with a bike, unless there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Overwhelming evidence would be 5 witnesses saying the cyclist was stupid!
I read this and my hackles went up something fierce!
This may seem strange to you since I am an avid bike rider. But I have to say, to me this is asinine! I have seen, both in claims reported to the company, as well as watching cyclists on my rides, that the accident with the car was NOT the cars fault. I have always said “Just as there are piss poor car drivers, there are also piss poor cyclists!” In fact, this twit shown here was being searched for as being at fault for a hit and run on another cyclist on the I90 bike path earlier this month.
As it stands now, if there is an accident, the bike and car are treated as equals. The accident is investigated, and fault is determined. I train the claims cowboys and cowgirls in my company, I promise you the bike gets a fair hearing. If the car is at fault, we handle the claim for the cyclist. However, if its proven the bike was at fault, the rider (and rightfully so) owes for any damage to the car.
Too many people nowadays do not take responsibility for their own actions. Its always someone else’s fault. Criminals claim abuse when they were kids, parents claim “no way my JR could have done that”. There are also people in every office who will blame anyone but themselves for tasks not getting done. In all cases it is NOT “my” fault its someone else’s!
If this passes, it will give people like this yet another reason not to take responsibility. Now the theory of the law is that drivers will worry they would be at fault, so they will be more careful around bikes. Horsecrap! What will happen is some cyclists (especially the bad ones) will think “HEY, they have to watch out for me, so I don’t have to be careful.” I can’t tell you how many times I heard a driver tell me, “Yes I saw the other car, and I could’ve avoided the accident, but I had the right of way! Some cyclist would say the same!
I predict more running of stoplight, failure to stop at stop signs. Cutting cars off and more dangerous behavior in general. This in turn will cause more motorists to dislike us than we have now. In essence, it will only serve to make things worse.
We cyclists have fought for years to be considered vehicles. We want access to the same roads and have cars share the road with us. Folks, and I believe that for my followers I am preaching to the choir here, with this comes a certain responsibility. We need to act like cars, and if we do something stupid, we need to be found at fault.
So bottom line, even though the attorneys are ALL over this, I really hope it doesn’t pass. The laws work the way they are, and its time people were made accountable!
OK, I am stepping down OFF my soap box now, thanks for visiting!