Personal Injuries Lawyer

Cyclist Dies in SE Portland Accident

A female cyclists tragically lost her life in a bicycle-related accident in early August 2016.

According to witness statements and other evidence collected at the scene, the cyclist was traveling at 30 to 35 mph northbound on Mount Scott Boulevard when she made a westbound turn at the interchange at 112th Avenue.

The driver of a Dodge Ram pickup truck was traveling eastward on Mount Scott Boulevard and making a left turn onto 112th Avenue. Westbound traffic had stopped to allow her to turn.

As the driver of the pick-up crossed over the westward lane of Mount Scott Boulevard, the cyclist crashed into the passenger side of the truck.

The cyclist passed away due to her injuries.

The Second Fatal Cyclist-Related Crash in One Week

This was the second fatal bicycle accident within a one week time span in the Southeast Portland area. On the Saturday before, a female cyclist was struck by a truck at Flavel and 82nd street.

Who Is Liable in a Bicycle-Related Accident?

In the state of Oregon, our Rules of the Road operate just as a driver’s manual for all Oregon residents. Generally speaking, bicyclists are treated like all motor vehicles. This means that cyclists are expected to obey Oregon traffic laws.

With that said, operators of cars and trucks are required to follow additional driving guidelines and to take special safety precautions which are in place to protect bicyclists. Some of these statewide precautions include:

  • Operators of motorized vehicles must yield to cyclists on a sidewalk
  • Operators of motorized vehicles must yield to cyclists in a bike lane
  • Drivers must pass cyclists on the left, at a safe distance, and return to their original lane when they are a safe distance away

What Are The Leading Reasons For Bicycle Accidents?

The leading reasons for bicycle accidents in our state include:

  • Drivers who are under the influence
  • Drivers who are distracted
  • Drivers who are driving aggressively
  • Roads which are in a poor state

Why Speak To An Attorney After A Bicycle Accident

A serious bicycle injury can result in permanent life changes which can interfere with your ability to continue to work, affect relationships with friends and loved ones, and have an impact on one’s ability to enjoy a fulfilling life.

Our team of personal injury attorneys at Dwyer Williams Dretke Dretke PC is committed to ensuring that justice is served to victims who are injured as the result of the negligence of another.

We offer free initial consultations and will be happy to speak with you about your case today at (541) 617-0555.

Drugged Driving May Have Caused Pickup to Crash into Motorcycle, Car, and McDonald’s

Accident Injury AttorneysEveryone has heard the phrase: friends don’t let friends drive drunk.  In recent years, thanks to the hard work of agencies like MADD, law enforcement has cracked down on people who drink and drive, and the public is much more aware of the risks.  But there is still one risk that sometimes gets overlooked by the public, which be just as deadly as drunk driving:  drugged driving.  Drugged driving is considered driving under the influence (DUI) just like drunk driving, and it is just as dangerous.

News Station KGW reports that four people were injured after a pickup in Longview crashed into a motorcycle, a car, and then a McDonald’s patio.  At least one of the injured people was standing on the patio at the time of the auto accident. The driver of the pickup allegedly ran a red light before hitting the motorcycle.  Longview police told KGW that drugged driving was suspected.  A blood sample was ordered for the driver of the pickup, who was taken to the hospital due to his own injuries.  He was also booked at the jail for vehicular assault.

Drugged Driving is a Crime in Oregon

Oregon law makes it a crime for a person to drive a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance or inhalant.  It’s also a crime to drive a motor vehicle under the influence of a combo of these drugs and alcohol.  Multiple convictions for this offense can eventually result in a felony conviction and prison time.

Statistics on Drugged Driving

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) provides statistics regarding drugged driving, its prevalence, and its effects.  They rely on NHTSA statistics which show that more than 16% of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs.  Eleven percent tested positive for illegal drugs.  In 2009, 18% of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one drug.  One out of twelve high school seniors reports driving after having smoked marijuana.

The reason drugged driving is so dangerous is because of what drugs do: they affect the very aspects of the human body that are necessary for safe driving.  Different drugs and different doses can have different effects.  NCADD provides the following examples of the necessary driving skills that can be impaired by drugs:

  • Coordination:  Drugs decrease coordination, which is necessary for steering, braking, shifting, and accelerating.
  • Reaction time:  Drugs diminish reaction time, which hurts a driver’s ability to react to traffic signals, other cars, pedestrians, animals in the road, and other unexpected obstacles.
  • Judgment:  Drugs have cognitive effects that can change how the brain processes risky behavior, like speeding.  A drugged driver can also have a decreased ability to pay attention.
  • Tracking:  Drug use can affect a driver’s ability to stay in his lane or maintain a proper distance between her vehicle and other vehicles.
  • Attention:  A drugged person’s attention can be divided.  This is even truer for drivers who actively use drugs while driving, such as those who smoke marijuana while driving.
  • Perception:  90% of information processed by our brain while driving is visual.  Glare resistance and recovery, dark and light adaptation, and dynamic visual acuity can all be negatively impacted by drug use.

Drugged driving can hurt or even kill those who do it, those in their cars, and innocent bystanders on the road.  Those people who use drugs need to be aware of the risks and make other arrangements for transportation.

Driving under the influence can lead to serious accidents with devastating consequences. Contact an Oregon attorney today if you have been injured in a wreck.

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Bicycle Accidents Caused By Street Car Tracks

portland-streetcarBoth locals and visitors in Portland are very fortunate to have a wide variety of ways to get around without a car.  Not only is Portland one of the most bike and pedestrian friendly cities in the country, but it also offers buses, light rail train, and even streetcars.  But sometimes, having so many options for transit can lead to accidents, including bicycle accidents.

Usually when people think of bicycle accidents, they think of accidents involving cars or trucks or even DUI.  But a sometimes overlooked type of bicycle accident involves streetcar tracks.  The Portland Tribune reports that local bicyclists are concerned that their tires are getting trapped in streetcar tracks, causing injuries.  In the past, Portland’s government has responded by putting up a few signs near the tracks that depict a cyclist getting a tire caught in tracks and tumbling head (and helmet) first off of the bike.  But now the city is doing more to acknowledge and perhaps someday combat the problem.

Ordinance to Combat Bike Accidents

The Tribune’s report states that a new city ordinance says, “Analysis of crash history and community feedback indicate there is a safety issue associated with people riding bicycles on or across streetcar tracks in Portland’s central city.”  In response to this analysis, the City Council is considering requesting a grant for $150,000 to study ways this sort of accident could be reduced.  The ordinance states that Portland State University would also commit $30,000 to the project and that there would be a match of funds from the Transportation Research Board.  Even if the City does receive such a grant, the City Council would have to vote again to accept the funds.

Toronto Cyclists Faced Similar Safety Issues

Portland is not the first city to face this issue.  A news release from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, details a similar problem.  According to the 2012 release, one-third of Toronto bike accidents at that time involved tracks.   The release cites a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.  The study, which looked at bicycle accidents resulting in emergency department visits, found that 31.5 percent of such accidents in Toronto directly involved streetcar or train tracks.  Of the accidents involving tracks, 19.8% of the cyclists said their tires slipped on the tracks and 80.2% made the same complaint Portland cyclists are currently making: their tires got caught in the tracks.

How to Stay Safe While Biking Around Tracks

While the city tries to decide how to address this serious issue, there are certain steps bicyclists can take to try to stay safe in the meantime.  Operation Lifesaver provides a few tips for safely biking at railroad crossings, which can be applied to the streetcar track problem.  The safest, albeit most time consuming, solution for situations where you are crossing any sort of track is to dismount and walk your bike across.  This is particularly important if it is raining, as tracks can become slippery.  However, if you are going to ride across the tracks, be sure to cross them at a 90 degree angle—this makes it less likely that your tire will get stuck.

A bicycle accident can be a traumatic experience. Contact an Oregon accident attorney for help filing a claim to recover damages.

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Photo Credit: Ian Sane cc

Official Push for Roundabouts Instead of Traffic Signals at Deadly Intersection

In the wake of Portland’s news channel, KGW’s report that two young women, both Pacific University students, were killed in an auto accident at the intersection of Oregon 47 and Verboort Road near Forest Grove, community members called for traffic signals.  These two women were not the first to die at this location.  A 16-year-old high school student was killed in a similar crash at the intersection in 2007 and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) reports that between January 2008 and July 2013 there were 27car crashes at the intersection.  Community members had also called for traffic signals after the 2007 death, but none were ever installed.

Now, rather than acting on the public call for traffic signals, officials are pushing for a different solution: roundabouts.  The Oregonian reports that installing a roundabout is ODOT’s plan, and that it’s supported by Forest Grove Fire Marshal David Nemeyer.  The Oregonian cites astudy that says that while the public usually prefers traffic signals, support for roundabouts over signals will increase once the roundabouts are installed and people become used to them.

How to Drive a Roundabout Safely

Roundabouts can be very confusing if one has not used them regularly, but the rules for driving roundabouts are fairly simple.  The Washington State Department of Transportation has created a website that explains how to use roundabouts safely.  The website lists four key things to remember about driving roundabouts:

  •     Yield to drivers who are already in the roundabout;
  •     Stay in your lane and do not change lanes;
  •     Do not stop while you are in the roundabout; and
  •     Avoid driving next to oversize vehicles in the roundabout.

The website also offers a five-part video series on roundabouts including specific information for pedestrians andcyclists.  This information can be particularly important for both young and elderly people who are more likely to be killed or seriously injured in pedestrian or cycling accidents.

Signaling and Roundabouts

One thing not covered on Washington’s website is Oregon’s law concerning using turn signals in a roundabout.  Oregon law states:

A driver commits the offense of failure to use an appropriate signal for a turn, lane change, stop, or exit from a roundabout if: (1) the person does not make the appropriate signal under the various provisions of ORS 811.395.  This situation takes place in circumstances where a driver is:

(a) Turning, changing lanes, stopping, or suddenly decelerating, or

(b) Exiting from any position within a roundabout [ORS 811.400].

NOTE: This section does not authorize the use of hand signals when the use of lights is required under the provisions of ORS 811.405 (Failure to signal without lights).

Whether a roundabout is the right solution for this deadly intersection will only be determined with time.  What is known is that something has to be done, as too many people have already been injured or lost their lives.  Hopefully ODOT will take action to prevent more senseless deaths.

If you have been injured in an accident in Oregon, contact a personal injury attorney today for information on how you can begin filing a claim.

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A New Tool: Portland Bicycle Accidents Mapped by MIT

Bicycle InjuryOregon Public Broadcasting reports that MIT is mapping all of Portland’s bicycle accidents as a part of a project called “You Are Here.”  The project is being worked on by MIT Media Lab’s Social Computing Group.  Portland is one of five cities included in the project so far, but there are hopes that eventually 100 cities will be mapped.  The other mapped cities include Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Cambridge, Mass.

The You Are Here project has made the map of Portland bicycle accidents available here.  It depicts 1085 bike crashes in Portland from 2010-2013.  MIT gathered the data for the map from Portland Police Department Bicycle Crash Reports and Google Maps.  The map can be explored by city, street, or location.  The stated reason for the map is “to show where crashes tend to happen—like Broadway, Division Street and Hawthorne Boulevard—in the hope that those streets might be made safer for riders.”  While not part of the intent of the project, these maps could be an excellent tool for bicycle accident victims and attorneys to determine patterns and possibly causes of accidents.

How common are bicycle accidents?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that while only 1% of trips in the United States are taken on a bicycle, bicyclists are more at risk for crash related injury or death than those who take their trips in cars.  In 2010 almost 800 bicyclists were killed in U.S. accidents.  Fatal or non-fatal, the accidents can be extremely costly.  In 2005 the lifetime medical and productivity loss costs from such accidents were approximately $5 billion.

Those between ages 15 and 24, and those over age 45 are at the highest risk for fatal accidents, while those aged 5-24 have the highest rates of non-fatal accidents.  Most bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas, and perhaps surprisingly, not at intersections.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a very large gender gap in what it calls “pedalcyclist” accidents, both fatal and non-fatal.  Pedalcyclists include not just bicyclists, but also unicyclists and tricyclists, so long as the vehicle is only powered by pedals.  In 2011 85% of the pedalcyclists killed and 78% of those injured were male.  The agency also reports that alcohol was involved in more than 37% of fatal pedalcyclist crashes, and that in 31% of those cases, someone involved had a BAC of over 0.08.  So while one may typically think of DUI accidents involving motor vehicles, driving while intoxicated can also lead to bicycle crashes.

Even if a bicycle accident is not fatal, it can still result in serious injuries.  Last March, Eugene’s KVAL reported on Trudy Maloney.  Ms. Maloney was riding her bike in 1986 when a car ran a red light and struck her.  According to the report she did not get back on her feet for three years, and it took an additional three years on top of that for her to recover enough to go to school.  Before her recent retirement, she worked with people who had suffered from traumatic brain injuries.  More than 155,000 traumatic brain injury survivors live in Oregon.  Some of them suffered those injuries in bicycle accidents, and unfortunately not all of them will be as successful as Ms. Maloney in recovery.  This is why new tools, like MIT’s map, are so important.  Anything that can help prevent accidents and can help hold those responsible for crashes responsible will improve the lives of potential and actual victims.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact an experienced Oregon bike accident attorney for help with your claim.

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