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T-ProGuy

Legal Advice

42 posts in this topic

I don't know if there really is an appropriate board to post this on, but this is where I usually go for advice, so here is my situation...

I was involved in a hit and run car addicent last night, in which the other driver was at fault. The driver was drunk, has previous offenses, totalled my car and was eventually tracked down. Fortunately, I was not hurt (some bumps/bruises/soreness) and will be seeing a doctor shortly just to make sure.

I have talked to my my insurance agent, as well as an agent for the other driver's company. I have been told that it will probably be some time next week before I can even get a retal car to use. I was told that I am only entitled to the current market value of my car (it was 8 years old, 130,000 miles and has a book value of about $3,500). I am aware about the "no-fault" laws and how they relate to any necessary medical costs.

My question are as follows: Should I get a lawyer involved? Am entitled to any additional/other compensation for the accident? Should I expect to just settle for the $3,500 value of the car?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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I cannot give you any legal advice, I just want to say that the "No Fault law" sucks big time, it's the stupidest law I've ever seen and we don't do nothing against it.

That's it, I just wanted to vent it out....

smirk.gif

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It get's harder and harder to recoupe damages even when they are genuine... a lawyer won't charge you anything to sit down and review the circumstances to see if there is anyway you can recover damages from this incident.

Good Luck!

Ken

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My daughter had about the same thing happen, When the adjuster came out to settle the claim, he low ball the car for high miles and one rust spot and tires that were 2/3 wore out,, then he prceeded to tell me she was 1/4 at fault for being where she was when she got hit and tried to cut the claim by 1/4. that just didn;t fly with me, We ended up getting blue book value for the car, had to collect Dr. bills from our own Ins. which resulted in a rate increase for me because the Ins. Co. said we had one accident. Don;t be suprised if the same thing happens to you. Just plain B.S. He also said they wouldn;t pay for a rental car, When I quoted the price for like replacement, he said he didn;t care what it cost to replace it, he was here to just settle a claim. Still makes me mad when I think of it. A lawyer told me as long as there were no perement injuries it would be hard to get additional payments, probley wouldn;t cover his fee if we did. crazy.gif

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Your insurance agent is the person who should be doing the leg work on this deal. There is absolutely no reason for you to be talking to the other guys insurance company. If your insurance guy (could be female too) is totally lacking a set of testicals, tell your insurance company you will be hiring a lawyer to handle this and they will be footing the bill....see how much the agent squirms, or better yet, their superior......

On the brighter side, you aren't hurt, but insurance is a necessary evil. It is necessary for things like this and they are all evil

since no one has gotten upset about my comments above yet, I will garner that there are some in the insurance business, just like other businesses that give the whole industry a bad name. There, I feel better.........

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If you have grounds to believe the car is worth more, then hold out. You don't have to settle. The longer you hold out, the more odds are that you'll end up with a better deal.

A cousin of mine got low balled by insurance and he just kept telling the agent to replace the car with a like item if they thought it it could be done for "X" dollars.

Needless to say, insurance finally gave in and cut the check for top dollar.

Insurance plays the odds and figures you are really needy for the $. If so, then they probably have you. If you can afford to hold out and play hardball, then it just may go in your favor.

As to the rest, I'm not really in the "sue'em for all they're worth" crowd, but if you have legit injuries, etc. then you should expect them to be taken care of without a bunch of BS. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to fight for it. Here again, you don't HAVE to sign a settlement/release. but almost certainly will be pressured to do so.

If the other driver was legally drunk, and was busted for it, it's hard to say what could happen...

Much probably depends on how far you want to try to push it.

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If the other driver was legally drunk and busted for it, then he has a DWI, hit and run, reckless endangerment, failure to report an accident, cancelled insurance.

Wow, he is really going through hell right now. Too bad it does nothing for you.

Get State Farm insurance. It's cheaper, and has a ton of benefits (rental cars, towing, etc etc)

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Quote:

If the other driver was legally drunk, and was busted for it, it's hard to say what could happen...

Much probably depends on how far you want to try to push it.


By this I meant that because the driver was drunk, you probably could pursue civil action (above and beyond the criminal action for the DUI/DWI) against the drunk driver for neglegence, etc.

Whether or not you choose to, or whether or not it's worth it is up to you.

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Sorry to hear of your accident. I don't think you'll need an attorney, they don't work for free and they don't increase the value of you vehicle.

Picksbigwagon is simply wrong, I won't go further than that.

You have the option of settling your total loss with your Company (less your collision deductible) or the at fault party's company. Neither company will pay you more than the current market value of your car. Usually, with older vehicles, and I know it's true in my case as well, the car YOU know is worth more to YOU than it would be to another. However, there still can be a dispute about the value - a NADA book is a general guide, but what the cars are selling for on dealer lots and in the classified is a better measure of value (I've never bought a used car for full retail book value, have you?).

Your medical bills for the check out will be paid from your policy. The no fault laws were designed to speed recovery of damages and avoid the proliferation of needless lawsuits. They work in a ideal situation but when in the 'real world' and our legislatures modify the pure theory we often end up with an animal of a different color, but that is not your question.

Expect to be paid fair market value for your car and get your medical bills paid. If you need a rental car, get one, the tortfeasors company will pay for it, up until the time they offer to settle your car.

Again sorry to hear of your loss. Accidents happen, glad you're not seriously injured.

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Yep, I will back pedal on the lawyer, but you still should not be contacting the other insurance company, that is why you have an agent.

Evil is too harsh a term, but I fully realize the only way insurance companies make money is to try and get out of a situation for the least amount of money as possible (I see that as evil, case in point the death of my brother in law and the actions taken by the motorist who killed him and that guys insurance company, enough said!) 2 years of watching my sister in law and niece go through a living nightmare thanks to the insurance companies.........

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"The only way insyrance companies make money...."

Whoa!

If they had everyone believing that they'd have it made!

Every single vehicle on the road has to have insurance on it, boat, car, truck, motorcycle.

Homes have insurance, snowmobiles, jetskis, lawnmowers, stereo systems.

The ratio of claims vs. insured items is pretty low.

And even if a number of claims cost an insurance company 100,000's, millions, etc, they've more then likely been in business for a very long time and have "banked" enough money to still come out way ahead.

They don't give you the money back if you never file a claim after 70 years. They keep it. And there are plenty of folks that have never filed a claim, or that have, but was of minimal value.

If they were "only making money" by short ending everyone, well, that'd be too bad.

Granted, yes, if they save a certain percentage of what everyone wanted, they come out alot further ahead then they would have. But I really don't think they'd be filing bankruptsy if everyone was an ace negotiator.

It really depends on your company, agent, history as to what kind of treatment you get.

Some companies are focused on the profit. Others realize that to make money you have to spend money, and money only comes from customers, and customers come for GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE, and that is what they build and hold their reputation to.

I know of a few people with differing insurance carriers that totaled a vehicle, got a settlement, and came away going "holy cow, I can't believe I got that much!"

They were able to purchase a better vehicle then what they had with no out-of-pocket money to boot.

So.....Just my soap box rant for the day.

Please take it with a grain of salt. No means am I putting anyone/any company down.

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I have no legal advise to offer...as I would agree with what has already been said.

I do think insurance companies make money but sucking their customers dry while trying to avoid paying out on any claims. Due to my past experiences, I think they rate pretty much up there with organized crime...and this is why....

True Story:

About one week after getting married my wife had one of those moments where she was not thinking and had an accident. As she was backing her vehicle out of the drive-way, she struck my police squad car that was also parked in the drive way. The bumper and hood of the squad were damaged..not too bad but noticeable. She wakes me and tells me about the accident and says that she will contact her insurance company. We had just gotten married and didn’t have the same insurance company.

A few days later her insurance company calls me and asks several questions about the squad car. I tell them that I am pretty much the only driver of this particular squad car because its assigned to me by department policy. I tell them that it does, on occasion, stay parked in my drive way over night....all depending on what shift I am working and if anyone else wants to use it. I explain that it is a police car and owned/registered/insured by the city that I work for and is not a grocery getter.

A few days later I get a call from my wife’s insurance agent saying the would not be covering the cost of the damages. I was told that my wife cant file a claim against her husband’s car. I explained that it was not my car but a work car...a police squad car as a matter of fact. I was told sorry, the car appears to be in “your custody, care and control at the time of the accident”. What!!!???? I call his supervisor and explain the situation...I give them all the city contact info to see for themselves that its not my car. I get a call a day later saying, “sorry, it appears the car was in your care, custody and control” at the time of the accident. I make the same appeal to the highest level and still told the same thing. I even wrote several letters to the head office but still got the same answer.

Now for the kicker.........

The city that I work for would not cover it (nor should they)....so 1200.00 came out of my pay check to cover the cost of the damages. Then my wife and I met separately with our insurance agents to see which would give us the best deal on life, home, auto and boat insurance. To be honest, her insurance company gave the lower quote....but jacked up the quote once they realized she had once tried to file a claim....the claim of the story above. So, I promptly told the agent to F.O. and we went to our agent and we might pay a few dollars more, but in the long run...I trust this company. Just a little back ground, I am in my late 30s and my wife is in her early 30s, neither one of us has ever had to file a claim..etc.

Four years later we are still getting survey letters from my wife’s old insurance company asking her to rate their service. I like to respond with nasty little replies about the above mentioned story...and even point out that she has not been a customer of theirs for over four years. I wont go as far as to name the insurance company but their initials are AF. Enuff said.

Sorry for the rant...this happend over four years ago and it still burns me up inside. Just had to get it off my chest..

Cliffy

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Cliffy, bad set of facts for certain. Your policy (or any ones, mine as well) covers most things but does have a number of exclusions care, custody and control being one, a insured can't be liable to an insured (husband/wife) etc. These exclsuions come from common sense approaches to reduce risks and also not to create a moral hazard - if you could collect under the liability portion of your auto policy for backing into your wife's car, every time some one was a little short of cash, you could back into the old car you have in the driveway for some extra $$ grin.gif.

In your case, I'd probably not make the call your wife's company did, not because they didn't follow the letter of the policy, but because the intent of those exclsuions wasn't to exclude payment for situations such as the one you described. My opinion only, and your wife's carrier did apply the policy language appropriately.

In the 18 years I've worked for my employer, never once have I been asked to pay a claim at less than what I valued it, or could support. Companies don't play any 'odds' about valuing claims, and don't have any rules or policies to under value claims. Insurance companies have good years and bad - remember the hurricanes? Most carriers teeter on the edge of making money every year, with many only in the black due to investment income, the cost of claims, agents commisions, etc actually exceed the premiums paid in!

Each carrier has a big bulls-eye on it's figurative back and every plaintiff attorney is primed and waiting for the chance to prove a carrier acted in bad faith. Bad faith is simply defined as acting in a manner that places the companies interest above that of their policyholder. If they find this has occured, the comapny likely will be the subject of law suit, and if it's policy, a class action that could cost hundreds of millions.

Each carrier is subject to their rates and policies being approved by each State Department of Insurance and it's claim files being audited by them as well.

When someone has been in an accident, particularly one that isn't their fault, they are angry. They want to vent this anger and somehow make the responsible party pay for the disruption and property damage they have caused. Usually, this anger is misdirected to the insurance carrier, likely the adjustor who is trying to settle the claim.

That adjustor can pay what ever he can justify to his supervsior. His interest isn't to cheat or undervalue the claim, his interest is to settle it fairly and move on to the next claim. What he can not or should not do is pay claims at values higher than can be justified. He has a duty to his insureds to pay what is owed, but nothing more.

He'll often hear that he must get to keep the money he 'saves' his company or that he's trying to take advantage of someone. He'll be told many times that he'll be sued and also what his duties are "your company owes me this, and if you don't pay it, I'll sue". Most of these folks don't understand that they can't sue the company, as the company didn't cause the loss, etc etc.. Most folks also don't understand that in the end, a carrier could wait to settle the claim at a value placed certain by 12 people and a judge. Carriers try to settle claims before trial as it is costly and time consuming. Some cases simply must be tried becasue the dispute about values of property or injuries are simply too great.

But in the end, if you take the emotion out of the equation, and understand your only entitled to recover the fair market value of your damaged property, you'll likely find the offers made are fair. If you don't think they are, remember, it's your job to document why, you'll have to do that at trial. The carrier should expalin how they arrived at the value, but simply stating you want more $$ with out fair substaniation of your reasoning likely won't get you far.

Insurance is a tool we use to spread risk. It allows many things to occur that would not - lenders don't make mortgages or car loans w/o proof of insurance. Even greater than the ability to indemnify one at time of a loss is the duty to defend an insured - that duty often costs far more than any property damage claim that could be made.

Your agent isn't there to process your claim against another carrier. His job is to sell you the coverage you need, explain the coverages and if in an accident file a claim pursuant to the coverage sold you, not against any third party. Many agents do provide a good bit of direction and do legwork on behalf of their policyholders, but it's not their job.

And one last thing, in most States, one can self insure if you don't care to pay the evil insurance companies. In general, after an accident you must post a bond equal to the financial responsibility laws in your state.

What you won't get is the costs for attorneys paid when you accidently bump someone at the red light and they run up 20K in bills and demand 100K in settlement. They then sue you and you RUN, not walk to your insurance agent asking what the heck to do now, you've never been sued before. That's why part of your premiums go to pay for claims folks like me, and the attorneys we hire to defend you when you had an accident like the one that happend to the other guy when he had a laspe of judgement.

Rambling on quite a bit here, forgive me please. One thing that I've learned in this business (being a jack of all trades and master of none) is I don't know every thing about my neighbors business. Usually when I think something is overpriced, or feel as if I'm being taken advantage of (gas prices, doctors and dentists charges, grocery costs, it goes on and on) I try to remember my neighbor works at the grocery store, my neighbor works for the oil company and my neighbor is a doctor. While they may not go to my church, they go to theirs Sundays. None of my neighbors are evil folks, and I don't think they would work for companies that intend to cheat people.

Making a fair profit for their goods and services is expected, it allows all of us to pay for kids braces, school lunches and ice cream grin.gif

Off my box now laugh.gif

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Maybe I am slow..but how would have I collected anything? The city was the one that should have collected...right? My wife's car backed into a squad car...one that I am bound to drive by my department's policy..and by the way share with one other co-worker on a regular bases.

The claim adjuster and his supervisor went as far as to say that if my wife would have t-boned me at an intersection while I was working ...they still wouldn’t have covered her claim under the same clause. Huh? What craziness is that? Tell me they were not going out on a limb with that BS. I am sorry, but there is no doubt in my mind they were trying to save a penny.

One more thing...my wife’s insurance agent was a very nice guy. I wouldn’t say he was “evil” at all. He agreed with us and even tried to help us as much as possible. I have nothing but good things to say about him. My complaint is with the company he represented. Do I think the adjuster and his supervisor are evil? Maybe a little....but there names are tattooed in my mind...hoping to meet them some day on the road. Just kidding...a little. mad.gifgrin.gif

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NY:

Never mind my response and follow-up questions...

I put this matter behind me four years ago....swore I would never let it get to me again. Not much gets under my skin in life...but that incident sure did. I sorta took this forum hostage and made it my own little soap box...I probably shouldnt have done that......but thanks for the info you provided.

Cliffy.

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If needed, I can go back and delete my posts. The treatment my sister in law recieved and still gets really burns my hide.

I fully realize that there are many, many people on here that are insurance agents. That is fine, I deem it a necessary "evil", paying X amount of dollars in case something bad happens. Rates and payouts are set by the actuaries, who are some of the most concrete/sequential/human computers you will ever see. They create the payout schedules :"if x happens, y is the result"....

I still do not think the original poster should have been calling the insurance company of the drunk who hit and ran him, and that is where I stand, he should not have to call the other company to settle this claim, his insurance company should be handling it. Likewise, the other guys insurance company shouldn't be calling him either.....If I am wrong here, I am sorry NY, I don't know you personally, and I bet if we met, I would gladly have a beer with ya....In fact, the one I just cracked is toasted to you and a career I could/would never do myself.....

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If you have collision insurance on your car you place a claim with your ins. co., they will pay the claim minus the deductable, if you don;t have collision ins. you have no choice but to deal with the other co. With collision ins. when your co. collects, they collect the whole amount and repay you the deductable. We had this happen twice, we have 250 ded. the co sent a check for $500. WE called our agent and he said cash the check and wait and see how long it is before they find the mistake, wink.gif 3 months later they discovered their mistake and sent a bill for $250. We and our agent got a good laugh about this

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Sorry, but it isn't just oil companies making huge record profits for the year. I wonder why nobody is making a big fuss over that? Here is a quote from one of hundreds of articles easily found on a quick search.

"The companies that provide Americans with their homeowners and auto insurance made a record $44.8-billion profit last year even after accounting for the claims of policyholders wiped out by Hurricane Katrina and the other big storms of 2005, according to the firms' filings with state regulators. They say the profits are a fluke, but the industry has worked to shift risk to clients and the public

These numbers came right from the horses mouth, as they say, as reported to state regulators.

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Thanks for the responses...

Hearing a lot of what I expected to hear, but am still holding out at least a little hope that I can get more than the initial quote for my car. I have done some looking at used cars the last couple of days and have been really surprised. I have been trying to track down the same car as the one I had for comparison purposes. Ones with roughly the same mileage at dealerships have asking prices anywhere from $1,500 to $2,200 more that what I was told mine was worth. To get one for the dollar amount I was quoted, I would have to settle for something in much poorer condition and with roughly 25,000 more miles than mine.

I agree that it will be very difficult to get what I feel is "fair", especially since this car was worth much more to me than anyone else. My wife is of the opinion that we should be able to sue the other driver for additional money for a new car, as that driver was not supposed to be on the road (restricted license from previous DWI offenses), and if it wasn't for the recklessness/negligence of this other driver, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place.

I agree with her viewpoint, but do realize that things happen, and as I said before, I probably won't get "fair" value for my loss. tongue.gif

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I agree with united jigsticker! Get State Farm Insurance. They seem to be one of the few companies that really is a no hassle experience. All these one off companys are cheaper for a reason.

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I just read an article about this very topic on MSN last week. I pasted it below. Basically you should be able to get enough money from the insurance company so that you can go out and buy a car that is the equivalent to what you lost. If there quote won't allow you to get a fair replacement then you need to argue that point. The article tells you what to do to help your case.

Quote:

12 hidden ways to save on auto insurance

Knowledge is power, and knowing the ways insurance companies tally up auto coverage premiums can save you money.

By Insure.com

Keeping secrets is fine when you're in grade school, but when it comes to taking care of your car, secrets are just what you don't need, especially from your insurance company.

Here are 12 things your auto insurer won't tell you, and what you can do about it.

How your car's value is determined after it's declared a "total loss."

Auto insurance companies don't use the standard Kelley Blue Book or National Association of Automobile Dealers book value. Instead, each company has its own proprietary list of car values, and most have specialized software for valuing cars in each region. They take into consideration the car's mileage and pre-accident condition. The company may also get price quotes from local dealers on replacing your damaged car with a similar one, but the prices they get may be lower than the prices you would get if you walked onto the lot.

For instance, if you live in Philadelphia, the cost of replacing your car is going to be higher in the city than in the suburbs. The insurance company will consider quotes from those suburban towns as reasonable estimates. That may mean you have to drive several hours to reach the dealer offering that price, and many consumers don't want to have to spend a whole day traveling in order to save the insurance company money.

What you can do: If you disagree with your insurance company's value determination, there are several things you can do. First and foremost, if you have records of maintenance that show you've had the oil changed every 3,000 miles and had it checked routinely by a mechanic, copy those records and present them to the insurance company to show the car was in good condition. If you had any special parts installed or any upgrades done after the purchase of the car and you've been paying premiums on those improvements, make sure those are included in the insurance company's evaluation.

Get price quotes on replacement cars from at least three dealers within a reasonable driving distance and submit these to your insurance company. Ask the insurance company to provide you with a list of dealers within a specific distance who can sell you a car at the price it is quoting that will be equivalent to your car.

If you still aren't satisfied, you can step up the process and go to mediation or arbitration, which means presenting your case to a neutral party for assistance in reaching a compromise or, in arbitration, a binding decision, or you can take the issue to court.


Also correct me if I am wrong but I thought I read in an above post that someones insurance rate went up becuase they claimed their medical bills after an accident. I recently was in an accident and although I had no injuries I was told that my company can not raise my rate if I were to claim medical expenses. So if your rate went up becuase you did you should look into that becuase I think that it is illegal for them to do that.

Anyways, I hope this article helps you out.

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Quote:

Sorry, but it isn't just oil companies making huge record profits for the year. I wonder why nobody is making a big fuss over that? Here is a quote from one of hundreds of articles easily found on a quick search.

"The companies that provide Americans with their homeowners and auto insurance made a record $44.8-billion profit last year even after accounting for the claims of policyholders wiped out by Hurricane Katrina and the other big storms of 2005,
according to the firms'
filings with state regulators. They say the profits are a fluke, but the industry
has worked to shift risk to clients and the public

These numbers came right from the horses mouth, as they say, as reported to state regulators.


Shifting risk to clients....

How many of you have had your health care plan restructured for higher out of pocket, higher co-pays, etc. "to help keep costs down".

How many of you have received noticed from insurance that certain types of losses are no longer covered unless you get special policy - if you can get coverage at all?

In either case, did your ins. premiums go down accordingly?

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My wife got into a rather nasty accident almost a year ago. She ended up getting hauled off in the ambulance, sugery, couple of days in the hospital, and an absolutely totaled vehicle. She's fine now, we have about a gabillion dollars of Dr bills that insurance won't cover, and we received a big chunk of crap for payment on her van.

She contacted a lawyer. Understand us for a bit, fellas. We're not the sue em till they're dead kinda people. The feller she got into an accident is a businessman, and was working at the time. We're the last people that want to see him or his business go under, broke, what ever you want to call it because of an accident. (accidents happen) The lawyer gladly took the case, and the wifey isn't sueing him, she's sueing his insurance company. And with the many many many many many many thousands of dollars we've payed in insurance in our lifetime, to be shafted and told "We're not covering this," I have absolutely no problem sueing an insurance comapany. If the insurance company bleeds out I really honestly don't care.

I'm no lawyer and cannot give legal advise. A good reputable lawyer will tell you if you have a case or not, and if not, they won't take it. If they think you have a case they will take it.

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You auto insurance didn't cover the medical bills you had after being in a car accident? What was their reasoning? Did you not have enough medical coverage to cover all of your bills?

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Our auto insurance covered up to 30 grand of the bills. They said that's all they will cover as fault was shown to be the other fellas and the other fellas insurance should pay. (Note, I said should pay and not will pay)

Medical insurance covered a little but said that it was an auto accident and they're not covering any more because auto insurance should cover it. All insurance companies have told us that if the wifey gets some type of settlement from a lawsuit that they will attempt to regain the monies they have paid out from a settlement the wifey gets. What a load of absolute crap, in my humble, premium paying, 1st claim ever, almost 40 year old opinion.

3 different insurance companies saying they will no longer cover as the other insurance company should cover it. This was almost a year ago, bills still coming in, and if the insurance industry blows up tomorrow it will be just fine with me.

None the less, like I said before, a lawyer will tell you if you have a case.

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