The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Rules of the Road operate as a driver’s manual for everyone driving or riding a vehicle on Oregon roadways. Bicyclists are treated like motor vehicle drivers under these rules in that they are expected to obey Oregon’s traffic laws as outlined for motorized vehicles, at least as much as practicable given, for example, the different equipment available between the two.
Bicycles are treated the same as cars, trucks, or sport utility vehicles, and have the same right of way as a vehicle would. This is fair and appropriate in our state, which is home to several very active bicyclist communities. Portland, after all, has consistently ranked in the top three “bike friendly” cities across the nation.
Dangers on the Road
Despite the general rules above, not all vehicles are equal. Some kinds of accidents are more dangerous than others because of the vehicles involved – particularly those involving bicycles. Thus, drivers of cars, trucks and SUVs are required to follow a few additional guidelines and to undertake certain safety precautions that are designed to protect bicyclists due to cyclists’ heightened level of vulnerability on Oregon’s roads.
Some statewide precautions designed to protect Oregon’s bicyclists include:
- Drivers of motorized passenger vehicles must yield to bicyclists in a bike lane
- Drivers of motorized passenger vehicles must yield to bicyclists on a sidewalk
- Drivers who cause an accident with a bicyclist can be prosecuted for reckless vehicular assault
- Drivers must drive to the left of bicyclist which they pass, at a safe distance, and only return to their original lane a safe distance away
Collisions between bicycles and cars, trucks, or Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) frequently result in catastrophic or fatal injuries to the bicyclists involved. These types of collisions typically have a devastating impact on the involved cyclists because they lack the metal frame and vehicle body protection provided to occupants of enclosed motor vehicles, nor do bicyclists have the protections of seat belts, airbags, anti-lock brakes, etc.
The body of an enclosed motor vehicle serves as a shield for that vehicle’s occupants and it protects them from direct contact with the road or solid structures during a collision. Unlike drivers of motorized passenger vehicles, however, bicyclists are not afforded the same insulation at the moment of impact.
Hundreds of Oregonian bicyclists are injured every year in motor vehicle traffic crashes. This is especially true in urban areas like Portland, where bicycling is practically a lifestyle and where we see the highest incidence of bicycle-car accidents in Oregon. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, in 2011 there were a total of 928 motor vehicle traffic crashes that involved bicyclists who were injured. 15 of those accidents resulted in cyclist death. And that is only the reported cases – minor injury cases are often not reported to the authorities, so the actual incident rate is surely much higher. The most common errors made by these cyclists were failure to yield right-of-way to drivers, disregarded traffic signals, and riding on the wrong side of the road. Sadly, the price-tag for these errors and for motor vehicle drivers’ reckless or negligent driving is very high.
Common Injuries for Bicyclists
If you have been involved in a bike accident in the state of Oregon, you may suffer serious injuries that have far-reaching and devastating consequences on your quality of life. These injuries may also affect your familial and social relationships and your financial future.
It is common for auto and bicycle collisions to result in the following life-altering injuries and conditions:
- Severe brain damage
- Temporary loss of use of one’s extremities
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal injuries
- Broken bones and contusions
- Severe joint damage
We Can Help
Our client was riding his bicycle when an uninsured driver struck him from behind and ran over him. Not surprisingly, this accident left our client with serious injuries. The driver denied liability and made a nominal $130,000 settlement offer to the injured bicyclist.
How We Were Able to Help
Our client was dropped by his original attorney, who believed that the case was “un-winnable.” Our experienced auto and bicycle accident injury attorneys were happy to take the case, and we won. In fact, the arbitrator awarded our client $464,000 in total!
Our client was riding his bicycle early one morning when a truck struck him from behind, causing severe orthopedic and neurological injuries. The driver denied liability, arguing that because our client was riding in the dark on a road without a marked bicycle lane, did not have lights on his bike, and did not have reflective clothing, he could not have seen him. Thus, they made no offer to settle his case.
How We Were Able to Help
Once our client hired us, we quickly hired an expert to perform a visibility study at the scene. We were ultimately able to convince the at-fault driver’s insurer to pay its policy limits to our client. However, our client’s uninsured motorist carrier refused to settle. Thus, we took the case through the litigation process, including a binding arbitration where the arbitrator assessed $340,000 in damages, forcing the uninsured motorist insurer to pay its limits.
Early one morning, our client was riding his bicycle when a driver traveling in the same direction fell asleep at the wheel and hit our client. Our client crashed and sustained serious injuries that, while not life-threatening, required several months of active treatment.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company denied our client’s claim, arguing that his head injury and three months of recovery weren’t bad enough to warrant the value of his claim. The client, frustrated by the way the insurance company was treating him and struggling to cover the medical expenses associated with his bicycle accident, contacted our firm.
How We Were Able to Help
With years of expertise as personal injury attorneys, we were able to evaluate our client’s claim and give him a range for a fair settlement.
The insurance company, still insistent that getting hit by a driver going 45 mph was no big deal for our client, made a series of low offers. We refused to let the insurance company take advantage of our client and countered repeatedly until their offer reached the fair range.
Ultimately, the at-fault driver’s insurance company paid for the client’s bicycle, his accident-related medical expenses, and a large settlement for his pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bike accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries and losses. The caring and experienced bicycle accident attorneys at Dwyer Williams Cherkoss Attorneys, PC will evaluate the circumstances and facts of your bicycle accident to determine whether or not you are entitled to compensation.
Call Us Today for a FREE Consultation (541) 617-0555.
Call Us Today for a FREE Consultation