Just Do the Right Thing!

Client Story- by Maureen 

Distasteful, despicable and unethical! That is how Scott describes his experience dealing with State Farm after his 15-year old son was involved with one of their drivers.

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A competitive mountain biker and road cyclist, Ian, Scott's son, was out on a ride in his neighborhood in Golden, CO trying to get in 100 miles of training that week. It was just a little after 6:00 pm on May 15, 2016 when Ian was heading north on Washington Avenue. As he was coming down the hill, a car on Washington Avenue and 14th St. made a left hand turn right in front of him.                                  

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Ian was unable to stop in time to avoid a collision and ran into the rear passenger door of the car. When Officer Austin Beck from the Golden Police Department arrived, Ian was lying on his back on the roadway. He was incoherent and was not able to tell the officer what had happened.

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Ian was transported by ambulance to St. Anthony’s Hospital for possible head injuries. It was determined that Ian had suffered a hairline collarbone fracture and a concussion. He also had a cut near his eye and contusions all over his body.

Scott was notified by the hospital... “It’s a sinking feeling when you get a call from the ER to say that your son has been hit by a car.”

The driver was cited for failing to yield the right of way. He was driving his girlfriend’s car; she was riding in the front passenger seat.

Following the collision, Ian experienced memory loss, and his cognitive functions were not as strong as normal.

On behalf of Ian and Scott, we filed a claim with the car owner’s insurance company. GEICO readily paid policy limits (minimal). However, due to Ian’s high medical bills and other costs, we also filed a claim with State Farm, the driver’s insurance.  State Farm refused to take responsibility!

The Fromm family decided to pursue litigation and hired us to represent them. State Farm came up with several reasons for denying the claim:

  • They refused to pay because they claimed that the driver was not at fault.
  • They claimed that the driver was not insured with them at the time of the collision.
  • Attorneys for State Farm even suggested that the crash could have occurred in a different way than was stated in the police report.

They went as far as questioning Officer Beck’s qualifications and experience at investigating traffic crashes. The driver and his girlfriend even pushed responsibility on Ian stating that he was riding too fast.

Scott described his family’s experience in their road to get a recovery from the insurance company as a very stereotypical experience: “What happened is what I expected the experience to be. They are going to deny everything. It’s about enriching themselves, not insuring the insured.”

About a year and a half after the crash, the case went to mediation. Scott said that he was in a very uneasy place at that point. All he wanted to do was to settle for Ian’s sake. Ian had come to him before mediation and told his dad that he just wanted to get it over with. “It was the right decision, but we just wanted to be compensated for our losses,” said Scott.

Scott, also a cyclist, strongly believes that bicyclists are treated like second-class citizens even though they have the same rights as motor vehicles. “Your rights will be less. If my son was in a car, (I believe) State Farm would have paid.”

State Farm used tactics that delayed the Fromm’s claim from being paid out. Over 800 emails were exchanged with the clients/opposing counsel/experts during this case.  DENY. DELAY.  “That’s a dodging tactic to not pay out the claim,” said Scott.

Following mediation, State Farm continued to further delay payment by insisting that Scott and Ian’s Social Security numbers had to be provided before the check would be issued- contrary to the CMS rules and forms, and contrary to standard practice. 

Scott encourages bicyclists who have been injured to hire an attorney when dealing with insurance companies. “You could try to fight it yourself, but you would not be successful in recovering for your loss without an attorney.” “If I didn’t have Megan, we would have a different outcome. We would have been worse off.”

Megan adds some additional advice in situations like this one: "prepare to dig in for a long fight.  Insurance companies will bully and delay and drag on and on.  Treat this as an endurance sport. They will try to wear you out.  We are here to keep you fueled, motivated, and willing to go the distance. Resilience is key."  

What needs to change so that bicyclists are safer on the roads in Scott's opinion?

  • More legislation needs to be passed to protect bicyclists and their rights.
  • Governments need to make the investment to improve roads for bicyclists.
  • Drivers need to be more patient around bicyclists. Our culture is impatient.

The entire experience has left Scott fearful and has him thinking about switching from road to gravel biking. He wants to know where Ian is at all times now.  He and his family will move on from this experience, but he does have a message to insurance companies. “Just do the right thing!”

Bike Ambassador Team Blog: Commuting Delivers Daily Joy

Guest Blog post by I-Ling Thompson, Bike Ambassador

More than Miles, Bike Commuting Delivers a Daily Dose of Joy

Just shy of two years ago, we decided to move from the trail mecca of Golden, Colo. (complete with across-the-street trail access) to Denver. While I loved having trail access out my front door, I found climbing in a car to go anywhere exhausting and tough on my carbon consciousness. We found a darling, yet woefully dated bungalow in West Highland that offered a #ridemoredriveless daily lifestyle, shaved my daily commute to 15 minutes by bicycle, and served up plenty of renovation projects to keep us busy.

Our first year was hard – city life was dramatically different than rural Golden. The parking hassles, the noise, pavement everywhere…despite my best intentions to ride everywhere, I found the adjustment to city life difficult and old car habits were hard to break. Add to that my work and travel schedule kept me off the saddle and behind a desk more than ever…the days of carefree riding, simply opening my garage door to roll out on canyon roads or dirt felt foreign and beyond distant.

Interestingly, I found a daily dose of sanity by reaching for my bike to make that 15-minute commute to work. I chose between bikes lanes, bike paths and neighborhoods roads to pedal out the day before and behind me. And despite traveling upwards of three weeks a month, I strapped on my helmet to commute 96 times. The simplicity of grabbing my bike to go to work, dinner or the grocery store is indescribable. My commute became my joy and the system of bike paths around Denver, my new stomping grounds. I finally invested in a cruiser bike, complete with rechargeable lights, a rear wheel lock, fenders, a basket and a grocery getter pannier. The neighborhood was an old friend now, and I knew it’s streets. It wasn’t the foothills of Golden, but it was pretty awesome.

When my second spring rolled around, the quiet streets of West Highland blossomed into an entirely new neighborhood. My morning commutes were fragrant with spring flowers, and train of commuters on my route home brought familiar comfort when my days ran into darkness. I was now going days without moving my car. I added Lyft, walking and begging rides from hubby to my commute mix.

Even bigger this year, my hubby and I took our first cycling vacation. Rather than rent a car, we explored Norway by bike for eight days. The experience of riding our bikes in a foreign country, along quiet roads and boarding ferries to cross a fjord was indescribable. Sitting in a fruit stand to have lunch before pedaling to the next town...pure joy.  

I also found peace with merging my professional job + commuting. I don’t have a shower at work, so the struggle with hair + sweat management + outfit selection is real. I embraced the side ponytail to make my new post-helmet hair manageable and slowed my pace to avoid glistening. I tested my “professional” wardrobe and found that most everything was bike-friendliness for the time/distance required for my commute.  Despite my crazy travel schedule, I managed 92 commutes and 331 rather stylish miles by bike, if I do say so!  

If 2017 taught me anything, it’s that a commuter mindset happens in small, every day actions, not just the bold ones. I'm so grateful for my commuter team..this team is comprised of women from all backgrounds...medical, executives, lawyers, nonprofit leaders, small business owners and mathematicians. Despite their full schedules, these ladies stay committed to the bike commuter lifestyles they want to lead and remind me of the possibilities, joy and experiences to be had by bike. It would be very hard to trade in this lifestyle, given the freedom and hours of car-free life I’ve taken back. 

So here's to 2018! I'm ready for the adventures you have in store!

Hope Sport home build experience - in photos

It is difficult to describe in words, the impact this trip had on us, and on the family we served.  Suffice it to say, this changed us all and for the better.  It was truly a remarkable experience. 

Please join me next December 27-30, 2018.  Visit Hope Sports for more info. 

(Photo credit: Hope Sports photographer Tiffany Lambert).

10,000 miles in 2018

The goal of riding 10,000 miles in one calendar year is one that I've had on my mind for many years, but frankly -lacked the courage to tackle.  It represents a couple thousand more miles than my biggest year, to-date.  With multisport/Ironman training as the focus the past 3 years, I couldn't fit in this kind of riding, along with the running and swimming time demands.

But now as I look ahead to 2018 ... the time feels right and I've publicly stated my goal:

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The plan will be to ride 6 days / week with one day completely off for rest and sanity.  All told, I'll need to average 27 miles/day, or 833 miles/month, to reach the goal. Commuting will play an even bigger role here, as will indoor/trainer rides during the cold months!

If you're interested, I would love for you to join me.  Please find the Strava group HERE.  (34 people have already jumped in) .... the fun kicks off on January 1, 2018.  Let's do this. 

Your Struggles Develop Your Strengths: a Personal Story

On May 23, 2017, I went down in a bad bike crash.  While I've raced my bike for many years, (and therefore suffered my fair share of bike-race-related crashes), this was by far, the worst. I was on a group ride, and it was a complete fluke -someone rode over a stick and it shot under my front wheel, taking me out in a split second.  I suffered a concussion, a fractured sacrum (pelvis) a torn labrum in my right hip, and ample road rash.  My bike broke in 9 places-including the saddle.  Initially, I didn't fully appreciate (or understand) the extent of my injuries. 

I did what we cyclists do -I brushed myself off, and tried to push through.

Looking back now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that was not a smart move.  I kept trying to ride, and train.  I kept pushing hard at work and at home.  I didn't ask for the help I needed.  I kept coming unraveled emotionally and then beating myself up for being weak and soft.

The crash happened at the end of a strong, disciplined spring of training and my season was looking promising.  I was registered to race the first-ever women's singlespeed category at DK200, I was registered to race numerous triathlons including Boulder 70.3, in an attempt to try and qualify as an elite triathlete.  I was registered for my third Ironman AZ in November with a lofty goal of trying to earn a spot to Kona.  2017 was to be my year of big audacious goals.

In May, I felt those goals all slipping away.  I had to let everything go and just focus on being whole again- on being healthy, mentally and physically.  And 6 months later, well... I'll let the video show you: 

I love Arnold's quote at the beginning of this video we made, because he's right - Your Struggles Develop Your Strengths.  We don't ask for adversity or setbacks, but we will ALL experience them.  And sometimes the struggle makes the ultimate journey -and accomplishment- that much sweeter.  And sometimes, we learn we were stronger than we knew. 

Huge thanks to our friends over at HayMaker Media for their work on this project, and in capturing the essence of the struggle, the emotions, the gratitude, and the finish at Ironman Arizona.  What a journey, indeed.  

(Let me just acknowledge that many of our clients suffer injuries far more serious, and endure recoveries that take much longer.  Some clients can never resume their favorite activities and some never fully recover.  That reality is not lost on me, and I fully realize and appreciate that my injuries did and/or will eventually heal- and that my recovery will be pretty short in the scheme of things.  But let me also say this- I read somewhere recently that when we compare our pain, or our joy, to others' ... we diminish our pain or our joy; death by comparison.  We feel what we feel and that's what.  Personally, I wanted to share a video about my experience, not to compare it to anything else but simply to document it and share it).

Sensing a Shift: Bike Awareness

By Maureen

Call me a recreational cyclist. I enjoy getting out on my bike on the weekends in the summer to ride up to Georgetown, down to Chatfield or along the Cherry Creek bike path from Confluence Park to Cherry Creek Reservoir. Some days, I bike to school with my son or go out on a ride with my daughter to take in the scenery or explore new territory.

Living in Germany for eight years, I rode my bike everywhere. It was my main form of transportation, since I did not own a car. I used it to go to the grocery story, to commute to work or to ride to a beer garden to meet friends. It was good exercise and got me around the city quickly without having to take public transportation all the time.

I felt very safe as a bicyclist riding on bike trails and, even, on city streets. Drivers in Germany are definitely more aware, understanding and patient with cyclists. In part, I think that is because riding a bike is a much more common and accepted method of transportation than here in the US.

In 2014, to celebrate my dad’s 75th birthday, a group of family members rode about 255 miles from Lindau, Germany to Kufstein, Austria over the course of eight days. It was one of the most memorable trips I have ever been on. Being outside every day, riding through incredible scenery with my family and using my legs and strength to get from one place to the next was very gratifying. I really started enjoying cycling!

I have never given too much thought to bicycle safety other than making sure my kids and I always wear a helmet. I taught them to be aware of their surroundings, especially cars, when they are out riding. When I ride up to Georgetown, I am in the bike lane on the frontage road and feel safe for the most part.

As a driver, I am aware of cyclists and give them plenty of room when passing. I look over my shoulder when I make a turn so that I don’t cut them off.

Over the last few months, there has been a noticeable change to my “bicycling mentality” since I started working for The Cyclist Lawyer. I have transitioned from being largely unaware of issues bicyclists deal with, to becoming far more informed and sensitive to a bicyclist’s rights and obligations. Every day, I am learning what I can do to ride (and drive!) safely, skillfully and legally and how I can advocate for the cycling community.

That might mean putting a bumper sticker on my car to educate drivers about giving a bicyclist at least three feet of clearance when passing. It might mean talking to family members and friends about the rules of the road. It could even mean standing up for cyclists when angry drivers leave nasty comments on social media about a story of an injured cyclist. Yes, I felt compelled to respond to the haters online, and point out that it was a human being injured by a hit-and-run driver and to get upset with the driver who left a cyclist on the side of the road.

Why does it matter to me? Why have I become an advocate?

It might just save a life!

It might teach my kids not be distracted drivers.

It might help change the impression drivers have of cyclists.

It might make cycling safer for everyone…even a recreational cyclist like me.

There are just so many reasons. What are yours?