December 1, 2017
If you are well-versed in the cautionary tales of other cyclists, then you might already know the story of UCLA Ph.D. candidate Nako Nakatsuka. While many cycling accidents are horrifying, there is none more outrageous than her case.
In April 2014, Nako was riding her road bike from work when she was rear-ended by a speeding car. She was hit with such force that the front bumper of the car was caved in and her bike ended up all the way under the rear wheel of the car. Nako was left with serious damage to her body including a concussion, whiplash, and several severe lacerations to her body, but thankfully she lived. Yet, she wouldn’t know that her injuries weren’t going to be the worst part of this accident.
After the accident, instead of paying for her own extensive medical bills, the insurance company for the driver sent her bills for damage to the car. Not only did they want her to pay for the front bumper damage, for which they claimed she backed into, but they also claimed she smashed into the side of the car.
Now not only was Nako on the hook for her own medical bills, but she had to invest her own money into lawyer bills. What made Nako’s case so difficult? The one key factor that made this all happen was that the police officer at the scene of the crash failed to write a report. Had they written one, there would have been no case against Nako. Her bicycle was clearly under the rear tires, thus she definitely didn’t back into the car, and there was no way she could have hit it from the side either.
Nako’s story is horrible, but she was able to help raise the money she needed for lawyer fees and medical bills through a successful GoFundMe campaign and outpouring from the cyclist community. Her story should, however, be one of caution from now on. While cycling accidents often look very clear, it doesn’t mean the driver who is responsible will always take responsibility. Furthermore, if there is no police report to confirm the story, you could be held on the line for an extensive amount of damages.
If you have been in a cycling accident, contact us today. The Law Office of Gary Brustin is dedicated making sure injured cyclists get the justice they deserve.