Need advice in accident compensation situation
July 27, 2010 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Was hit by a truck whilst riding on my bike at night. Didn't have my light on. There is talk of compensation/suing. Need some advice...(slightly long story)

So the other week I was riding home after work in the evening when I was hit by a truck. I was on the main road and he pulled out of a side street without slowing down at the 'Give Way' sign and clocked the back of my bike which sent me flying and resulted in a very, very badly fractured knee (Luckily that was all that happened)

Now, I'm a generally forgetful person and on this night I'd forgotten to put on my front bike light. Immediately the driver got out and started yelling that he didn't see my light, my light wasn't on, he couldn't see me etc etc. I think I may have agreed with him at this point that, yes, my light was off. He also mentioned that he only slowed down once he heard me shout "Hey, hey, HEY!'

The police came. Talked to the driver and then came up to me and said something along the lines of 'Don't want to be too long mate, but your light wasn't on was it?' and I think I agreed with him.

Now, its coming to the time to get a lawyer and talk about the possibility of getting some compensation for the accident and I'm worried about the whole light situation as it will no doubt sway how things turn out. Everyone is telling me that from now on I say 'My light was on' But I know that I was heard to say that it wasn't and it is most likely what the police have in their accident report. Should I tell the lawyer (who I'm meeting next week) all that I've said here or should I just tell them that the light was on all the time?

I'm in Australia if that provides any useful context.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (21 answers total)
You've admitted here that your light wasn't on. You are committing perjury if you state (under oath or in an affidavit) that it was on. Not only is this dishonest, it's illegal. It sucks that you were hit, but in this case it sounds like both you and the driver share fault in the collision.
posted by sanko at 10:44 AM on July 27, 2010 [12 favorites]

You should always be honest with your lawyer. If there's a chance your light was on you can say it may have been on, you don't remember exactly, but you need to mention that you think you told the cops the light it was off.

Your lawyer can only give you the best advice if he knows all the facts. Saying you had your light on and then surprising your lawyer with a police report that says otherwise is not a good move.
posted by Arbac at 10:45 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Tell your lawyer EVERYTHING. He is there to help you. He can only help you if he understands the situation fully. What you tell him is privileged and protected.

Do what your lawyer tells you to, but I imagine his advice to you will be that things could turn out much, much worse for you if you lie about having your light on.
posted by randomstriker at 10:45 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you know what answer you will get. Nobody here is going to tell you to say the light was on. We wouldn't tell you to say it even if your odds of getting caught lying weren't extremely high (even higher than before, now that you've made this post) and we sure as heck aren't going to say it now.
posted by phoenixy at 10:49 AM on July 27, 2010

1. Tell the truth to the lawyer; he can't advise you properly if you don't.

2. You might be wrong in thinking that the light will be determinative. I don't know anything about Australian negligence law, but I would be surprised if every case was decided strictly on whether a light was on or off. The driver may have been negligent even though your light was off. (Or a driver might not have been negligent even though you light was on.)
posted by Mid at 10:55 AM on July 27, 2010

I was driving a scooter and was hit by a man driving a car who had run a red light, resulting in a very badly fractured knee.

At the scene the cop thought it was the drivers fault. When interviewed at the hospital, under the influence of pain and morphine, I specifically told the cop it was my fault. (Note: It wasn't really my fault; I believe I thought the cop was my father-in-law when I was talking to him).

My attorney is fixing this, but its a long, long road. Get an attorney. A good attorney. Then tell your attorney everything and leave it in his/her hands.
posted by anastasiav at 11:11 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

For the love of God, tell your lawyer the truth. Your lawyer cannot represent your best interests if she doesn't know what they are. The light having actually been on or off may make a huge difference to strategy in terms of settling, going to court, or choosing to go through something like PIAB if Australia has such a system.

Disclose, disclose, disclose.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:13 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

So, in a nutshell, you're asking us if you should lie from now on?


And don't be so sure as to think that the issue of compensation relies solely on the light on/off issue. However, if you lie about something so basic -- and it's found out -- you will surely screw yourself out of whatever good result you would've been entitled to.
posted by turducken at 11:35 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

You are proposing lying to get money from someone over an accident that you admit was partly to largely your fault? That's a dickhead move AND its illegal. Your friends are idiots, please don't listen to them.
posted by fshgrl at 11:38 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Please don't lie.

Yes, many people do this. People lie and obscure the facts and exaggerate in order to win lawsuits all the time. It's the way of the world.

Please don't be a part of it. Don't contribute to the world being this way. Tell yourself -- and your friends, while you're at it -- "No. I'm going to do the right thing and tell the truth."
posted by Gator at 11:52 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Was he negligent for not using his night vision goggles?

If you were the driver of the truck, would it be fair for you to be sued and have to pay a settlement?

It's really unfortunate that you were injured. But you need to take a look at the big picture. If your lie resulted in a settlement that would be a true injustice.
posted by reeddavid at 12:06 PM on July 27, 2010

For the love of god, yes, tell the truth.

You're mostly to blame for the accident, right? The fact that he didn't "give way" for a vehicle he had no way of seeing isn't his fault. Regardless of the legal implications of lying, and the moral implications of trying to get money you're not entitled to, just think of this driver. He's involved in an accident where he's at least partially at fault, he's feeling a bit torn up over his involvement, and then the injured party lies and tries to put all the blame on him.

That doesn't seem like a nice thing to do to another person.
posted by pjaust at 12:10 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm glad you're ok (really).

But seriously mate, what were you thinking? If you *had* been seriously injured, or, God forbid, killed, the driver would have had that on his conscience for the rest of his life. I assume that the reason he didn't slow down at the Give Way sign was because he couldn't see anything to slow down for. That's how it works - you only need to give way if there's someone to give way to.

I bet he got the fright of his life and that would explain why he shouted at you, too.

By your own admission you caused an accident. It's really rough that you got hurt. It's lucky that nobody else got hurt. But the world doesn't owe you compensation for making a silly error. These things happen.

Bear in mind, as well, that if you get busted perjuring yourself, you could be looking at jail time. In NSW, for example:

Any person who in or in connection with any judicial proceeding makes any false statement on oath concerning any matter which is material to the proceeding, knowing the statement to be false or not believing it to be true, is guilty of perjury and liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

Perhaps that gives you another way of looking at it.
posted by rubbish bin night at 12:18 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your lawyer will advise you whether or not to claim your light was on (ie. if you think it might have been on, or whatever), based on what will likely get you the fairest outcome.
Your lawyer is the expert and is the person you should ask.

Your lawyer's advice costs you money, and you will render that costly purchase worthless if that advice is not based on a full understanding of the situation, which includes your conflicting thoughts regarding lights.

Also, check the law for when you need to have lights. It is probably phrased something like "30 minutes after sunset or when visibility is low". The sun can set pretty fast in winter, so without fog, it might be the case that the accident was within the 30 minutes of sunset, in which case perhaps you weren't cycling illegally, merely idiotically.

Try to find a cyclist-recommended lawyer too. A lot of people are hostile to cyclists in bizarrely deep-seated ways.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:32 PM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]

[quit being jerks and either answer the question or go to metatalk please.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:11 PM on July 27, 2010

Just answer your lawyer's questions, but keep in mind that you are not at fault here, since the driver pulled out of a yield intersection without looking and slowing down. Your lawyer will give you advice for handling this situation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:18 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tell him that to the best of your recollection, the light was off, which would seem to be the truth. Most of us have had times of knowing we did something like leave keys on a table and later found that we left them elsewhere--and those times don't follow being hit by a truck.

(Any contentions here about who is and isn't at fault are complete nonsense. There are slew of relevant factors that we don't know.)
posted by ambient2 at 2:15 PM on July 27, 2010

Yes, be honest that your lights weren't on. While that may mean you were partially at fault, it doesn't automatically absolve the other driver of fault, it just means you both share some of the blame. We had a similar situation when my husband was hit by a bus while riding his bike. Both he and the bus driver were found partially at fault, but we were still able to negotiate a settlement, albeit one that was lower than what it would have been had the driver been 100% at fault. Then again, if my husband hadn't been bicycling on the wrong side of the road, the accident may have been avoided entirely!
posted by platinum at 2:29 PM on July 27, 2010

Why are you thinking of suing him? He most likely would have given way to you if he could see you if your light was on.
posted by meepmeow at 2:32 PM on July 27, 2010

I agree with the above. I will only add, for the benefit of anyone else who finds himself in your position: you have the right to stay silent. Use it.
posted by megatherium at 4:28 PM on July 27, 2010

Don't lie.
posted by thatone at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2010

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