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Old Apr 21st 2009, 11:54 AM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 8
Help prove my employer wrong

The maintenance guys where I work are offending my sensibilities and I want to give them an answer from a physics point of view. This is the letter they are sending me denying me a right to file an insurance claim:

Dear Dorothy:

This is a written response to your e-mail of April 8, 2009.

[company name] is not responsible for any damage to your car bumper.

[a co-worker] and I measured the height of the railroad tie that you parked by. It measures six and one-half inches. We also measured the clearance of your car's front bumper. That measures seven inches. I showed you the photos of these measurements on Wednesday, April 15, 2009.

These measurements prove that the railroad tie is too low to have damaged your car's bumper.

Sincerely yours,

After I was over most of the initial irritation of being effectively called a liar, I started considering stuff that they apparently hadn't thought to consider... like adding the weight of a driver (which, btw, would be either side of 200# by not much if you want to add that fact to your thoughts.)

The part I'm looking for from you folks is how acceleration might be factored in. Granted it isn't a lot, but I know when you accelerate forward from a stop, the front of your car raises a bit... so I assume it would mean that the front lowers when you back a car up. This is an Hyundai Elantra wagon, btw, with no additional load in the back.

Between those two, I think a half inch is easily made up, but, as needed I'm sure I can bring up other potential environmental factors, like the fact that the lot is not flat, nor is the timber they measured, etc. Don't know what affect tire or air temperature might have as well. I'll reserve those if I need to add additional points later.

In any case, all I asked for is the right to file an insurance claim. I did not expect that they would come back with a reply that insults both me and themselves... them because they think their tape measure numbers giving just a half inch difference is actually going to close the question?!? I think not.

Thanks for thoughts!

Madison, WI (where air temperature varies greatly, sometime hour to hour!!)
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Old Apr 21st 2009, 01:21 PM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 8
draft of reply

I'm going to sleep on this, and send it tomorrow. If I, or someone else, comes up with thoughts for revision, I'll certainly consider them before sending:


While I certainly appreciate the time and effort you and [co-worker] made on my behalf, I strenuously disagree with your conclusion.

Trying to set aside the implication that I am lying, I would like to point out the fallacy of your conclusion.

While it's fine to measure a car at rest, and unoccupied, it is an entirely different set of measurements if all you do is to add the weight of a driver to the equation. In addition to that, you must take into consideration the difference it makes when a car is in motion. (Just as the front raises somewhat when you accelerate forward, it will lower in reverse.)

Plus, the parking lot is not level, nor are the timbers. To be able to state definitively that it could not have happened, you would have to take into account a number of variables other then the two you cite, both of which are variable in themselves.

We'd also talked that day about air pressure and the temperature of the tires possibly being other factors to consider.

The only thing I asked that day was the opportunity to file an insurance claim. I don't see anything in your photos or your statements that should deny me that opportunity.



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Old Apr 22nd 2009, 04:10 AM   #3
Physics Team
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,425
I think you have sufficient physics on your side provided you can show that the bumper did not touch when you sat in the car and that it could hit the tie when you reverse.
Wish you all the best.
physicsquest is offline   Reply With Quote

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