The reason for the question.
On the 21st of September I was traveling on my road bike East-bound on Marine drive in North Vancouver. Traffic was jammed and not moving. I was in the bike lane moving at a clip of around 30-35km/hr. I was being mindful of traffic, as always, but in a flash I was down. A green mini-cooper decided to turn into a VW dealership right at about the same time as I was passing him. I nailed his door (leaving a dent and paint transfer from my bike) and took our his mirror as I plunged on to the cement to the right of his car in the VW dealership’s driveway.
I was immediately angry, but that subsided quite quickly as the person I hit rushed to my attention and proclaimed how he was at fault and how sorry he was. I honestly felt more worried for him than I did for myself at this time. Why did I have to hit such a nice and consoling person? (Turns out he was a doctor of psychology with a specialization in conflict and a former minister) At the same time, I was worried about my bike and, with the shock and adrenalin running through my system, I didn’t think anything else of the situation at the time. My immediate thoughts were get this guy’s information and then get to the bike shop to get my bike fixed.
Within 2 blocks of leaving the accident I was trembling. I had to stop. I called my wife and asked her to meet me at the bike shop. I called the bike shop to tell them to stay open for me. I got back on my bike and headed to the shop. When I arrived at the shop they immediately sat me down and we waited for Tanya to show up. From there it was off to the hospital where I had the “pleasure” of laying on a metal board with a neck collar in my soaking wet clothes for the next 3 hours.
The good news is that structurally (e.g. my bones) seemed okay, but that I’d have soft tissue (e.g. my muscles) damage for a while which can be treated by advil/tylenol and “taking it easy”. Taking it easy, I have learned to understand means no use of my upper body, which makes things like sitting at a desk and using a computer difficult, let alone riding a bike hunched over the handlebars. Now begins the slow road to recovery…
I am the lucky one
In the grand scale of things I have to say I’m quite lucky with the outcome of this entire accident.
First, on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being zero injury, zero bike damage and 10 being death I’d say my accident fits in the 2-3 range all things being considered. I have no broken bones. I didn’t suffer a concussion. My bike is damaged. My coat and backpack are ripped. The guy’s car has a damaged door and mirror. I have soft tissue issues. The soft tissue issues I am determined to make go away by visits to my chiropractor, massage therapist and by limiting my time behind a desk.
Second, it’s nice to know that my athletic instincts and body probably helped me a ton during the fractions of seconds while the accident was happening. I’m positive my body reacted to the car before it registered in my conscious mind that I was about to be hit by a car. Looking at the damage to my bike and body it’s quite apparent that I swerved to miss the vehicle quite profoundly, and enough so that I didn’t just plow right into the vehicle (i.e. t-bone the car). I’m very lucky that my “spidey-senses” were tingling and reacting the way they needed to in order to minimize the collision as much as possible.
Third, I’ve also met a very interesting individual (the guy who hit me) which may turn into a relationship that I would never have “stumbled upon” if not for the accident. One of our first email interchanges after the accident I explained to him how this was an “accident” and not an “on-purpose” and while I appreciated his concern for me, it was important for me to know that he too was going to be okay. It’s not like the video above where the car actually swerves INTO the riders. Since then we’ve met again in person and I can see a relationship being built based on many mutual interests and similarities in our lives.
So things could have been a lot worse. Looking at the photo above, my situation is probably that of the guy in the yellow bike and white bike shorts. Everyone else is upside down. He looks like he was still hit, but he’s gonna be okay. The rest of the riders though, who knows how they fared… Regardless, though, I’ve had to ask myself the question – what is my life/lifestyle worth?
What is my life/lifestyle worth?
In North America we receive “compensation” for events like these in a monetary form. Obviously, my days off the bike/trails and my body’s physical shape can not be given back to me. Unfortunately the only way we compensate for these types of things is by “paying” for them. My bike will be fixed or written off. My jacket and back pack will be written off. The guy’s car will be fixed. The physical items damaged will all be remedied and be like they were before the accident. Similarly, I’m sure that any doctor’s/chiropractor/massage appointments will similarly be taken care of by the insurance company. However, unfortunately, we can’t say the same for my body, my mind or for that matter the other guy’s mind. And, since the only way these items get compensated for by our “system” is by monetary means it begs one to ask the question – what is my mind and body worth? And what is my lifestyle, which I’ve been forced to abandon for 2 weeks, so far, worth?
This is where things get tricky… Some say that I should get a lawyer because they are “experts” at knowing what a situation like this is “worth”. However, by introducing a lawyer in to the equation, it immediately diminishes the worth by 25%-33% as that is their “take”. On the other side though, lawyers have dealt with situations like this many hundreds or thousands of times with their clients and know exactly what situations like this are valued at based on previous precedent/experience. The reason I’ve been told to get a lawyer is because others have found ICBC to be particularly frugal when it comes to biker/car accidents when it comes to the bikers injuries etc. I have no opinion on this as I’m just about to go through this for the first time with ICBC. That being said, how would I know if ICBC is being fair or following precedent when I haven’t been involved in a situation like this before?
So now I’m stuck in a situation where I need to essentially put a monetary value on what my lifestyle is worth or the lost time living that lifestyle. Because assuming my injuries go away, which I’m intent on making happen, and all the physical items get repaired/replaced, the only thing missing or the only thing that I will not be able to get back is time lost living my life the way I would normally be living it.
So when it comes to your lifestyle, how can anyone put a monetary value on your time?