Bicycle Accident Attorneys

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.

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

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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Beware of Conflict When Sharing the Road

Injury Lawyer Roy DwyerOregonians enjoy lush greenery, numerous hiking trails, walkable neighborhoods, and miles of bike paths.  These livability standards extend to the state’s “share the road” philosophy.  This ethos helps ensure that pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicle drivers can at least cooperate on the road, if not necessarily live in perfect harmony.  As part of this philosophy, Oregon is also one of 14 U.S. states that bans handheld devices while driving.

Of course, drivers get distracted, pedestrians can be oblivious, and cyclists become angry. That can lead to altercations where someone ends up in the emergency room.

A recent story by The Oregonian highlights a scenario where Oregon’s progressive ethos collides with human nature… and then things gets worse.  Much worse.  During a busy lunch hour in downtown Portland, a cyclist alleges he was nearly struck by a driver who was busily texting.  He angrily yelled at her, the driver allegedly honked her horn, and then flipped him off.  The situation escalated until the cyclist alleges the driver intentionally hit him with her vehicle.  The cyclist’s injuries were not life threatening, but they included road rash and three fractures on his face.

In Oregon, personal injury law extends to accidents involving motor vehicles.  Owners of motor vehicles are required to carry minimum liability insurance coverage of $25,000, per person. The law further states that $50,000, per incident, for bodily injury to others is to be covered.  Medical, hospital, dental, surgical, ambulance, and prosthetic services are also covered, up to $15,000.

The case noted above is unique, though.  The intentionality of the crash brought assault detectives to the scene, rather than the usual traffic investigators.  The plot thickens further, because the driver was arrested and then later released.  As reported on the blog BikePortland.org, The District Attorney’s office stated they did not have enough evidence to hold her, and an investigation would continue.  The DA’s office noted that it would contact the cyclist to see if he planned to press criminal charges.  There’s been no mention, to date, of civil charges being filed.

So what’s the takeaway for people supposed to peaceably share the road?  Keep your eyes open whether you’re a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian.  If you do have a conflict, it’s important for cooler heads to prevail when our collective ideals conflict with the practicality of our commutes.  And, finally, know your legal rights.

 

Injured Bicyclist’s Settlement Docked for Late Child Support Payments

Our client was riding his bicycle when he came to an intersection controlled by a street light. He pushed the walk button and waited for a green light before preceding. As the light turned green, he started across the intersection. He was riding his bicycle very slowly, at approximately 2-3 mph, when a motorist who was attempting to make a turn suddenly struck in the cross walk. Our client mostly endured soft tissue injuries for which he received several months of treatment.

Oregon Bicycle Accident Injury AttorneysUnbeknownst to us when we were retained as counsel, our client was behind on his child support payments when this auto-bicycle accident occurred. When the State of Oregon learned about our client’s personal injury claim, it promptly contacted our law firm. The State placed a lien on Kenneth’s claim because of his failure to pay child support. The immediate bar we faced to recovering for our client was that, in settlement negotiations, the adverse insurance company wanted to send the majority of settlement funds to the State.

We researched Oregon law on the issue of child support liens and determined that the State was entitled to take fifty perfect of the settlement after attorney fees and costs. At the conclusion of the case, we paid a portion of our client’s back child support and he was able to keep a portion of the settlement pursuant to Oregon law. In the end, our client was very happy with our guidance and representation in this difficult matter.