‘Vulnerable User Laws’ In Some Countries Invites Insurance Fraud

Background Reading

Summary

Sorry to say but the A.B.A.T.E. (A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments) group has some legitimate points. Having lived in the United States all my life it is clear that what might seem perfectly reasonable in the Netherlands is fraught with dangerous pitfalls in a society as litigious as ours.

On any given day of the week you can watch the poorer residents of the Lawndale Community (and just about anywhere else in the city for that matter) perform a rather curious maneuver. It looks something like this:

The 'Vulnerable User' Insurance Claim J-Walk

The ‘Vulnerable User’ Insurance Claim J-Walk

The very first time I saw it performed it was being performed on me! I have seen for years the ‘slow walk‘ that girls perform when crossing a very busy street like Ogden or Cermak Avenue on a Friday afternoon. It is highly reminiscent of the similar maneuvers performed by Chicago Critical Mass Riders who are plying their way against traffic just daring motorists to hit them. Or a similar strategy is to do a ‘slow pedal‘ around cars that the group has managed to bring to a standstill while shouting out ‘Happy Friday‘. The motorists caught unawares get frustrated and start honking. The cyclists who are the more daring of the group hopped up on Testosterone and eagerly wanting to display their tail feathers for the females in the group even take to slapping the roofs and hoods of the frustrated motorists. That serves to scare the heck out of an unsuspecting motorist while at the same time heightening their frustration.

None of this is remotely like the interactions between cars and bicyclists in Amsterdam but few of these cyclist understand that point. Like the poorer denizens of Lawndale they are striking a blow for their user category against those deemed to be above them in the ‘Food Chain‘.

The Insurance Claim J-Walk Strategy

The idea of claiming $800K for being doored on a bicycle or a similar amount for being ‘humped‘ by a car in traffic is enticing if you have little to lose in allowing this to happen. So when a person leaves the sidewalk or the median on a boulevard like Ogden and is walking at a brisk pace at approximately a 45 degree angle you need to be aware this is out of the ordinary in terms of behavior.

The strategy here is to remain out of your peripheral vision for as long as possible and to time their arrival at the point of impact with your left front bumper just as the light is turning. The next step in this charade is to fall down in a manner worthy of the very best ‘NBA flop‘ and to stay down long enough to have thep olice arrive and issue a ticket to the unwitting mototorist before the pedestrian has a visit with the basrrister he has waiting for his next personal injury case.

The resident gets more money than he could ever hope to in a single lump sum and the lawyer keeps his cash flow going. Everyone wins except the motorists and the insurance companies. A similar ploy is run with respect to diding bicycles down very narrow and yet busy streets in Chicago where bike lanes or at least ‘sharrow‘ markers are crammed up against a row of parked cars.

You travel fast enough to time your collision with any opening door and while suffering bruising you can still walk away and ‘heal‘ in less than a month. And while you are recuperating your friends can hold a rally to raise money for your hospital bills and they feel great about themselves and you can get back to your yoga and pilates workouts in a few weeks. Life is Good!

ABATE Is Probably As Cynical As Am I

When you create a vulnerable class it ends up being the case that anyone at the bottom of the food chain has a weapon against those above them, namely the threat of a lawsuit. In this country there are two things that can take you down, health care bills and a lawsuit. Everyone knows this and folks with little to lose take advantage of the situation.

If I were to have seen more polite and deferential behavior from cyclists while plying the streets of the City of Chicago I might think differently. But watching the behavior of cyclists around dangerous motor vehicles it has become clear that there is a palpable level of animus that would soar to new heights if suddenly cyclists were identified in this fashion:

The bill defines “vulnerable highway user” as any of the following: 1) a pedestrian; 2) a bicyclist; 3) an operator of a moped or motor bicycle; 4) an operator of, or passenger on, an animal drawn vehicle, farm tractor, farm truck tractor, farm trailer, or implement of husbandry; 5) a person riding upon inline skates, a horse, or a play vehicle; 6) a law enforcement officer, traffic officer, fire fighter, or emergency medical technician, while performing his or her official duties; or 7) a person who is rendering medical or emergency assistance to another person. For most traffic violations, the bill doubles the applicable forfeiture or fine if the violation results in harm to a vulnerable highway user, and this doubling is in addition to any other applicable penalty enhancement, such as the doubling for certain traffic violations committed in highway maintenance or construction areas or in utility work areas.

Also for specific violations, the bill makes the offense a Class B misdemeanor if the violation results in great bodily harm to a vulnerable highway user or a Class A misdemeanor if the violation results in death to a vulnerable highway user. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or both. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 9 months or both.

The penalties are low as a tradeoff to being able to claim ‘right-of-way‘ when it comes to a lawsuit. If the police are forced to give a ticket to the less vulnerable user that means in court that the person below them in the Food Chain has a stronger footing. Lots of accidents occur where there are either no witnesses or shakey ones. This law would make the need for these folks less important because the onus is placed on the guy higher up the food chain.

Just imagine the field day that could result on Ogden from folks trying to run that J-Walk Scam all the more intently because now the stakes are higher.

Some Scam Examples Gleaned from YouTube

The very last thing we need in the country is the kind of widesspread fraud that results from the sort of vulnerable user law active in the old Soviet Union. If you were the owner of a high-end automobile or motorcycle your life could become a living hell.

Have you ever wondered why so many Russian cars are equipped with dash cams? It’s because insurance scams–where pedestrians make themselves get hit by a car in an attempt to get money–is way more popular than it should be. According to redditor Ryanistheryan, this is the translation of this video:

Russian laws have a very strict policy for driver’s fault in case of hitting pedestrians. By federal law, driver has to compensate for damages even if he’s not guilty.

Even IF he’ll ever succeed in proving this. Because we’re talking about pedestrian set-ups. Let’s begin with cases, where intentions are not clear at all, and actions are totally inadequate.

00:17 Bloke wearing a hoody is calmly approaching the Zebra. What could go wrong? Hands ahead, he traps just under the wheels. On purpose or not? Wouldn’t do any good to him

00:28 This girl is going to run like mad out of obscuring auto. When she sees there’s no profit, stops and calmly walks off.

00:40 Now the cases with 100% on purpose “wheel diving”. Not clear if set-up or just suicidal.

00:55 Man lurks for a right bus to dive into, spends quite some time

01:18 A group of teenagers is crossing the Zebra as usual. Suddenly one of them takes a dive.

01:54 Now the cases, proved to be real set-ups.

02:00 “Witness” wrecks the mirror, “Victim” drops a phone, van obscures the view.

02:20 “Victim” with an expensive laptop

02:30 Just the BMW he needs

03:10 “Witness” man, the “victim” with iPhone 4 and a lorry to make them unnoticeable.

03:15 Sound of a hit mirror. Same script: broken phone, damaged arm.

03:35 “Road police” and the “witness” car get on scene in less than 10 seconds.

03:48 After seeing the dashcam, they pack up and drive away.

03:52 One of them even managed to be recorded twice

04:25 Classic scheme is to demand compensations for broken laptop or phone, damaged arm, “to pay the doctor”, incapacity for work during an important meeting.

04:35 By law you HAVE TO always call the road police, whether it was a set-up or not. Even if the pedestrian says, that they’re okay or if they walk away leaving an acknowledgment note.