“Filing a claim against Capital Bikeshare?”

by Prince Of Petworth August 15, 2016 at 1:40 pm 41 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Clif Burns

“Yesterday [Saturday] while driving by Maple, had a kid on a capital bike dart off of sidewalk and hit my car. He was in the wrong, as he had come out between the parked vehicles and was trying to go across the street, and seeing damage on car biked off before we could get any information. We filed a police report, but the bike actually did some pretty major damage to our car. Wondering if anyone has filed a claim with them for damage?”

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  • biker

    Would you file a claim with enterprise if someone hit you with one of their cars but you had no plate or other identifying information?

    • Anon X

      Oh bikers, there you go again…

    • pjl35

      Actually…to be fair this is what happens when you get in an accident with someone who’s driving a rental. Granted, you know the identifying information because rental cars aren’t clearly labeled the same way bikeshares are, but I was involved in an accident with someone driving a rental car and it ended up being ridiculously complicated because we had to deal with both the driver’s own insurance as well as the rental company and their insurer.

    • navyard

      Of course — so I could find out who was driving/riding the vehicle in question.

  • none

    Doesn’t seem to this non-lawyer that Bikeshare should be held liable, but the user. They should be able to help you narrow down who was using it at the time and you could bring a case against that person the same as if they’d been using their own personal bike.

  • Anon Spock

    I’d be shocked if their contracts didn’t indemnify them from such claims. You should have uninsured motorist coverage for cases like this one.

    • dcd

      That doesn’t preclude OP from suing CaBi – it just means that if a lawsuit is successful, the rider has contractually agreed to pay for any judgment against CaBi (and perhaps attorney’s fees/costs of defense).
      As for the likelihood of success of litigation against CaBi, it’s pretty low. The best advice on here is to go through your insurance company and let them pursue it.

  • J

    “Major damage” to your car, eh?

    • Formerly ParkViewRes

      I wouldn’t doubt it. We saw a passenger in an Uber ‘door’ a cyclist and it caused a lot of damage to the car. More than you would imagine for a stopped car and cyclist moving at an average speed.

      • Eric

        I… love that you witnessed an unprotected human ram into a metal car door and thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of damage to that car. More than you would imagine, really.”

        • textdoc

          Come on. That observation doesn’t mean what I think you’re implying — i.e., that Formerly PVR is some kind of cold, unfeeling individual who prioritizes cars over bicyclists. She was just observing that the damage caused by the dooring was more than she would’ve anticipated for the collision of the door of a stationary vehicle and a bicyclist of (say) 150 pounds going (say) 15 mph.

    • stan

      paper car maybe

  • S

    Why don’t you just call Capitol Bikeshare? they could maybe pull information on who had a bike from a nearby dock at that time. Were there any witnesses?

    I don’t think you can do much more since car didn’t hit you and like others mentioned Capital Bikeshare probably has indemnity clauses in their agreements with riders.

    • If the contract between Capital Bikeshare has indemnity clauses that apply to the rider, wouldn’t filing a claim against Capital Bikeshare force Capital Bikeshare to go identify the rider in order to get indemnified? It might be procedurally easier for OP (or OP’s insurance company) to force Capital Bikeshare to go find the rider than to do it themselves.

      • Petworther

        How do you suggest they go about doing that? It’s not like Bikeshare has trackers on the bikes.

      • S

        Indemnity would mean that Capital Bikeshare could simply tell the OP that this is between the OP and the bike rider that they are not responsible for what riders do with the bikes.

        • pjl35

          Um…no. It usually means that the rider has to step into CB’s shoes and shield/protect them from any liability.

          • On Capital Heels

            +1 to pjl35

            Schools need to teach basic legal concepts to the masses!

        • pjl35

          What you’re referring to is more akin to immunity.

        • James W.

          That’s exactly what will happen. Bikeshare will tell OP to go blow, as it has no responsibility for the actions of its members.

          • dcd

            While that is probably true (motor vehicle accidents aren’t my specialty), is has nothing to do with indemnity. OP, if nothing else, this should be a reminder that you shouldn’t rely on legal advice off the internet, where most people don’t know what they’re talking about. (Not that you asked for legal advice, but it has been freely given.)

    • lizcolleena

      I doubt CB is going to provide a list of users who this could’ve been. That seems like a PR nightmare in the making.

  • sometimes Cabi user

    You will have to contact your insurance company, then they can contact Cabi . You should not be able to get the information yourself for obvious privacy reasons.

    You could contact them anyway and figure out what documentation your insurance company will need to provide to get access to the user information. Even so, it is extremely unlikely you will get any useful information. Even in a low-usage area like Takoma Park, there could be a 15+ bikes in use at a time. How can they can figure out which bike hit you? I don’t think they will give you a list of all possible users and let you figure out who it was.

    It should be treated like any other hit and run where you didn’t get any identifying information. It would be a similar situation if you were hit by someone driving a Budget rental car where you did not get a plate or description of the vehicle (or even if you did since they use many identical, generic vehicles). They are unlikely to give you the names of everyone driving a rental car in the DC area.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure you won’t be able to make a claim against Capital Bikeshare directly, however I do believe that all their bikes contain a GPS tracker so they may be able to tell you who was using the bike if you have an exact time and place.

    My guess is you would need a court order to get those details and the legal costs will be more than the damage to your car and not worth it for you or your insurance company pursuing it.

    I have no expertise or experience in this area though.

    • Petworther

      They definitely do not have gps trackers.

      • INWDC

        They may not have GPS trackers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if each bike has a number and that number would be traceable to the member who rented the bike at the time of the incident (I believe even day trippers are required to use a credit card in order to rent the bikes for just a one time thing). Regardless if the person who hit you was the individual riding the bike at the time of the incident (maybe s/he rented it for a friend) the person paying for the ride would assume responsibility for the bike during the time it’s being used under his/her name. A commenter below mentions contacting your insurance company, which you should do as your first step. But I think it’s definitely worth contacting Cabi as your next step.

        • AJS5034

          “DDOT mounted GPS trackers under the saddles of 130 bikeshare bikes and ultimately recovered 94 trackers.” — from an article about DDOT tracking usage citywide

          Very few of the CaBi bikes have GPS trackers embedded under the saddle, so your chances (4 percent, but likely much lower — 130/3,000 bikes) are slim that CaBi has that information to begin with. Let alone actually getting a government agency to turn over that information without any substantive legal paperwork filed on your behalf, you’re wasting your time and your money.

          • INWDC

            I’m saying that even without the GPS trackers I am pretty sure (not 100% certain) they would have some sort of numbering system for the bikes (for things such as repairs, distribution, etc.) – and 3k is a minuscule number for modern software systems to keep track of. Although I would agree that dealing with humans on the DC government side of things is a whole other ballgame. At the very least, it’s worth a phone call.

        • waste of time.

          Each bike has a tracking number for sure, but how exactly do you propose the driver locate said number? It would be like calling CaBi and saying “well this red bike, with black handlebars and a black seat” ran into me. I doubt CaBi has specific demographic information on each individual rider, so unless they the car driver followed the biker to a specific station at a specific time and can provide that detailed information, how on earth would CaBi ever actually be able to pinpoint who the biker was?

  • Anon X

    Yes, getting in touch with Cabi makes sense. A bike in that vicinity could have been reported damaged. Maybe you’ll luck out. There are few things that can happen to a car by a bike that could be “significant”, but other than just collapsing a panel with the bike tire, I cant see how the bike would be undamaged. And, that fix is a lot more straightforward than it seems – though any body work is expensive.

    You should call your insurance company, too.

  • Mamasan

    I don’t know much about Capital Bikeshare, but if the bike did damage to your car, stands to reason the bike itself was damaged, so they might be able to help you narrow it down. I’d call or email them and see what they have to say.

  • Honest Abe

    Don’t waste your time or energy contacting Cabi or soliciting the advice of others.

    Contact your insurance company immediately and file a claim if you indeed want to have the car repaired.

    • GBinCH

      +1. Agreed. End of the day, the time and hassle filling a claim is not going to be worth it, and you’re unlikely to be successful. You’re insurance has uninsured motorist coverage, which protects you in situations like this. It’ll be a ~$200-$250 deductible (which sucks) but you’re rates won’t go up.

  • Shawz

    The desire to sue Cabi is everything that’s wrong with this country. Obviously Cabi didn’t do anything to you, and if the laws were to hold them liable for everything people did while renting a bike, then they’d promptly go out of business. And that’s why we can’t have nice things in this country. Hopefully they can help you find the person who did this (perhaps by correlating the time/place with a damaged bike around the same time), but it’s that person who you should, and have to, sue.

    • pjl35

      “And that’s why we can’t have nice things in this country.” Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays.

  • Bronx2DC

    Why don’t you report it to your insurance as a “hit and run”? If it’s not your fault and he ran away you are covered; DC law requires all drivers to purchase Uninsured/underinsured Motorist (UIM) insurance coverage. And hit and runs fall into these categories for insurance.

    I did this when a u-haul truck hit my civic and drove off; I only got a partial license plate. But then I looked up DC’s UIM insurance and put a claim with my insurance company. They covered my new bumper and headlight to a car I only had liability coverage for. Full coverage could take care of this, but I’d opt for the UIM insurance you already pay for as it won’t raise your rates (just general UIM statistical rates district-wide)

  • Anonymous

    I understand the desire to hold this person responsible. But I am having trouble figuring out how Capital Bikeshare will be able to identify this particular rider among all the other people who were riding one of their bikes in DC (or a suburb where they operate) at the same time. Unless you saw the rider take his bike from a specific rack at a specific time – and you don’t say that in your post – the bike could have come from any rack in any part of the city and been rented on any day. There’s pretty much no way that the company will be able to narrow down the list of potential culprits based on the info you have posted.

    My insurance company paid (minus the deductible) to fix the dent in my bumper that resulted from hitting the tail end of a deer that darted out into the road in front of me. I didn’t have to provide the deer’s contact information. I called up, said I ran into a deer, and after confirming that I was okay they sent me to a repair facility. Funny thing is I held off on calling the insurance company for months because I assumed they wouldn’t pay for it. But they did pay, minus the deductible.
    If there is some way of finding the rider of that bike, let the insurance company worry about it.

  • John anon

    I’m confused why the OP thinks Capital Bikeshares is in any way responsible for the accident (financial or otherwise ) or that there is any way to track a bike back to a rider.

  • Biker

    I would think it should be (relatively) easy for Capital Bikeshare to identify who did this: you have to give a credit card to get the bike (or use a FOB that is linked to your name, address and phone number), plus you have give your phone number, plus you have to sign a 100+ page agreement to get the bike, plus you enter a code against a specific bike, plus CB knows when you check the specific bike back in, plus CB is always looking at and repairing bikes, so they can probably identify which bike looks like it got damaged…I wouldn’t think it would be so hard for CB to figure out who hit your car, and then you can deal with all the legal fun stuff after that.

    • Ampersand

      Right, I agree with this. Although there are thousands of bikes in the system, there are a limited number that are in use at any given time. If you know the exact time that this happened, they would then be able to pull up a list of all bikes that were checked out at the time. They could then narrow that down to bikes that could not have physically been in that area at that time (i.e., checked in or out within a shorter period of time than would have been required to bike to/from Takoma). I wouldn’t be surprised if that got it down to 20-30 bikes and users. Then, see if any of those 20-30 bikes had damage reported.

  • James W.

    As mentioned above, the Capital Bikeshare member agreement includes an idemnity clause that holds the member liable for any damages caused. Beyond this, poster’s only hope in collecting from Capital Bikeshare is to show that it was somehow negligent in renting the bicycle to this particular member. It’s a remote possibility that would likely cost many multiples in legal fees what it would probably cost to just get your car repaired and get on with your life.


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