A tale of woe, shuttle co totalled car and trailer... any thoughts/suggestions - Mountain Buzz

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Old 08-05-2016   #1
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 2
A tale of woe, shuttle co totalled car and trailer... any thoughts/suggestions

Hi Buzzards,

I just got off of a week long rafting trip to find out that both my car and trailer had been totaled by the shuttle company. I do not want to make any accusations, give details, or name the shuttle company till things are sorted out with insurance.

Has anyone had any serious issues with their shuttled vehicle or trailer? It seems like every shuttle company has a form that releases them from all liability including negligence. Even though the vehicle was not the cause of the accident they claim that they are not responsible in any way due to their release form. The accident seems fishy and I was given no less than 3 different reasons for the cause of this accident.

The difference between the insurance reimbursement for the vehicle and trailer and the cost to replace in similar condition is about $5k. It never occurred to me that I was putting that much on the line every time I had someone transport my rig. That doesn't include the cost to rent a car to haul my stuff over 1000 miles home. The total cost will end up damn hefty.

Should I just lick my wounds and let them heal? Or does anyone have any suggestions from personal experience?

Thanks and be careful who you choose to shuttle your gear.

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Old 08-05-2016   #2
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 513
This is one of my biggest fears with shuttling. Sorry to hear it happened, I don't really have anything to add aside from my condolences, hopefully you can get everything sorted out and come out relatively whole.
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Old 08-05-2016   #3
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,261
Do you have an accident report from the police?

Is the insurance company going to take it any further with the parties involved? That answer might be telling about merit and potential outcomes.

$5k seems like a rough hit but who knows how much a lawyer's fees will add up to (worst case if you were to lose a case).

I know a friend whose truck was totalled by a shuttle company. Insurance eventually paid full amount but required she never use a shuttle.company again (I.e. not covered).

Definitely a risk. I know in the industries I worked a waiver did not mean much in the presence of negligence or gross negligence. More a statement of understanding. That said proving the above can be difficult.

Best of luck and sorry to hear it.
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Old 08-05-2016   #4
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 168
Personally I would like to hear which company was shuttling your vehicle. They may have a release, but if they higher a driver that totals your rig, they should be responsible as long as your equipment did not lead to the accident.

I understand that accidents happen, but the way the accident is handled by the shuttle company says a lot about how they conduct business. If they are not willing to take responsibility for your property, what is to prevent them from employing some tweaker for minimum wage without a background check, giving him your keys and then when he steals your vehicle saying "well you signed a release that says we are not responsible for what happens to your vehicle while it is our possession". I feel that accountability is very important when it comes to shuttle companies.

Reputation and word of mouth is what shuttle companies rely on for business, and if they are not doing a good job, I think that the boating community should be made aware. Self policing and sharing information about issues with shuttle companies should be highlighted, particularly when it can have such a large financial impact. Whining about having a bad guide on a commercial trip is one thing, but a shuttle company totaling your vehicle and then refusing to make it right is another thing completely.

And on that note, I would like to recommend River Runners Transport out of Vernal, UT for anything that they offer shuttles for. They are the most professional and easy to use shuttle company I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with.

Your story is a nightmare that most people never experience, and I hope that everything works out with your current situation. Thank you for sharing!
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Old 08-05-2016   #5
readNrun's Avatar
Niwot, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 959
I'd also be interested to hearing about other damage/failures people have found on their vehicles from shuttling and how the shuttle company has dealt with it (or not dealt with it).

Blown hoses

Also - another vote for RR out of Vernal. We've used Jim for years and never had an issue.
“We steer the boat, we don’t alter the river.”
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Old 08-05-2016   #6
kayakfreakus's Avatar
Steamboat, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,040
We had a trip member taking out after the MF that could not turn the corner and continue down the main. When she got in her car she had a note to call the shuttle company and $400 bill for a new oil pan. They stated it was already cracked and leaking when they got to the pickup point, fixed it, and drove it to the takeout. Sucked, but not as bad as having no car when no one else in the group was leaving.

This year on the MF we had a note about how a deer had ran into the trailer. They inspected the trailer for damage and cleaned it as good as it could have been getting the blood and guts off. Based on what we could still see on there (blood, hair, and the point of impact murder scene) they went above and beyond to give us a useable clean trailer.

Other than that been real lucky and our group always leaves a tip ahead of time. That usually results in a note from the driver with thanks and how the vehicle performed.
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Old 08-05-2016   #7
Twin Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 34
Damn. That's a terrible end to what was hopefully a great trip. I understand not wanting to disclose the company yet. But maybe let us know what river you were on to ease our thoughts.
I've used all river shuttles for the main salmon and the middle fork salmon before and they were very professional and very thankful for the $30-40 tip I left them.
Sorry about your loss. Best of luck in finding a resolution.
Makes me want to contact my insurance company and ask a bunch of questions.

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Old 08-05-2016   #8
Paul7's Avatar
Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 861
I'm an adjuster and would offer to review the total loss settlement docs PM me if interested.

Often times insurance companies dont reimburse for sales tax check that according to your local tax rate. They also owe for dmv fees.

Also make sure they accounted for every option you rig has. Trim levels are important also to have right like sr5 with Toyota, xlt with Ford...

Then check how they rated your vehicle. They will rate the body, interior, paint.... Often times adjusters just hit average on all. Make sure the comparable vehicles are local to you not 500 miles away in a city. Cars cost more in rural areas than urban due to supply. You can also look for your own comps to dispute. They will tell you they don't negotiate but if you refuse to settle and argue with good local comps you can increase the settlement.

Lastly there's a chance that the shuttle companies, or the drivers insurance would set up even at a later date, save all receipts of your expenses if they accept liability you could then be reimbursed.
I'm really sorry this sounds terrible.

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Old 08-05-2016   #9
fishingraft's Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 260
Ouch. Worst experience I've had is just that the shuttler left his water bottle laying on the passenger seat and it leaked all the way out. Nbd. But it got me thinking about the kind of liability they might have if they wrecked my rig. The folks I use sometimes do it on a voicemail basis. Meaning I call and leave a message with the details, and hope to god my car is at the takeout. Don't sign any forms or waivers, or even talk to a human being.
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Old 08-05-2016   #10
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Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,311
On a Dolores trip 10 years ago, the shuttle driver from the Bedrock store smoked a pack of cigs in my cousins brand new truck. The butts were in the ashtray for a week in the heat. It cost him a few hundred bucks to have it professionally cleaned twice. No reimbursement.

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