Can a second accident affect a yet-to-be-settled case?
October 20, 2012 10:11 AM   Subscribe

YANML, but please help me weigh the benefits of filing a police report about a car-bike accident when a settlement is still in process from a previous accident.

The question might be confusing, so let me explain.

Situation #1: My partner was hit by a van last night while biking home. The van ran a stop light, and both he and the van were going around 5 mph. The van sped off before he or any of the passers-by could see the license plate. He was considering filing a police report, but he is unsure for the following reason:

Situation #2: About 10 months ago, he was in a worse accident, where a car hit him in a different area, also while biking. That settlement is pending, and they are paying for his health insurance, etc. He had right of way in this instance (as in the above), has a lawyer, etc.

He is concerned that if he files a police report about situation #1, then situation #2 will be affected. Mostly, he is concerned that he might not get a settlement as a result, or that his health problems from the first situation will be blamed on the second (he suffered a separated shoulder from situation #2--he is fine as far as we can tell from situation #1), etc.

His parents think he should absolutely file a police report regardless of these concerns. What do you all think? Will it hurt him to file? Does it matter? As far as I can tell, nothing will happen if a police report is filed, since police here don't spend much effort on bike-related crime or accidents. I know you are not our lawyer, but any advice would be appreciated.
posted by nonmerci to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is a question for his lawyer.
posted by grouse at 10:13 AM on October 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

"What do you all think? "

It doesn't really matter what we think. Most attorneys will have an initial meeting for free, or, it might cost you $200. Well worth the money.
posted by HuronBob at 10:16 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I understand it doesn't matter, but am curious what the community thinks. Thanks.
posted by nonmerci at 10:17 AM on October 20, 2012

if medical issues from #1 are documented, and were documented before #2, then i don't see how they could be blamed on accident #2.
posted by entropone at 10:29 AM on October 20, 2012

I'm curious as to why you're not asking this question of the lawyer handling the first case? He's working towards that settlement (and, I assume, his percentage of it) and will be in the best postion to advise you on this. That can certainly happen prior to filing a police report.
posted by HuronBob at 10:47 AM on October 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think there's too many variables to know the answer to this. I don't think it's possible to know how a company might respond to a second incident report. It may depend on how they are handling the first incident. A similar incident being handled one way for one person does not guarantee it will be handled the same way a second time, even if the same companies are involved. It often depends on who has your case.

I guess if I was not hurt and suffered no property damage and had no real identifying info on who hit me and had this other thing going on, I'd be less inclined to file a police report. All that report does is maybe tie a second incident or previous incident in with your husband's report if someone connects the dots. On the other hand, if they find out about this incident in a roundabout way, that might affect his claim, too, even if he doesn't file. It's a tough situation and if you have a lawyer currently, I think they will have the best advice.

Also, tell his parents that you're handling things. Goodness.
posted by amanda at 12:42 PM on October 20, 2012

Is there a red light camera at this intersection? If so, van's license plate is on it.
posted by zippy at 2:28 PM on October 20, 2012

Response by poster: There is not a light camera--it's a four-way stop with stop signs, in a very congested area near Powell's bookstore, for those who are familiar with that part of Portland.

Thanks for the replies--his lawyer so far hasn't been the most confidence-inspiring, which is part of why I thought I'd ask the hive mind for advice. He will talk to her, but I'm sure it will take quite a while for her to get back to him (weeks), based on our experience in the past.

amanda, my partner is an only child...if that helps provide some context. Ha!
posted by nonmerci at 3:03 PM on October 20, 2012

I live by the "no harm, no foul" rule, so I probably wouldn't report the second accident.

But your partner clearly needs some instruction on how to share the road and ride defensively. I know some accidents are unavoidable, but at 5mph he couldn't avoid it?! He might not belong on urban roads.

(I say this as one who bike commuted for 6 years, and motorcycle commuted for 3. There's a definite skill to this stuff.)
posted by nadise at 4:09 PM on October 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't understand what is expected that might be gained or helped by the existence of a police report - it sounds like the van is long gone and there is no way the police can identify it.

Is he intending to make an insurance claim for #1 and wants a police report to submit to that?
posted by anonymisc at 9:41 PM on October 20, 2012

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