Portland Bicycle Accident Lawyer
There is a 7:1 size differential between cars and bicycles. So, when a car collides with a bicycle, the injuries can be devastating.
A major problem with bicycle accidents in Portland, Oregon, is that bicyclists have little physical protection when it comes to riding. What does this mean for bicyclists, pedestrians, or drivers? When cars do not obey the rules of the road, wrongful death or traumatic injuries can result.
If you are riding a bicycle and hit by a car, truck, or commercial vehicle, you or your loved one may be entitled to monetary compensation. If a driver fails to pay attention and hits a cyclist, the driver is at fault – period. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and even death is caused, somewhat regularly, by negligent, inattentive motorists.
For a free legal consultation with a bicycle accidents lawyer serving Portland, call 503-303-0600
What are the most common motor vehicle offenses when it comes to bike accidents in Portland?
Unfortunately, bike accidents in Portland, Oregon are often caused by:
- Alcohol or drug intoxication while driving.
- Reckless driving, whether speeding or ignoring traffic signals and signs
- Failure to stop at a traffic light or stop signal—in Portland, most bicycle accidents occur at intersections.
- Distracted by technology while driving.
- Failure to stop before turning right at a red light.
- Failure to yield the right of way or yield in an intersection.
Flynn Law Firm will not miss any details to help you get the most out of your lawsuit. If you are hit by a car and weren’t at fault, you should be entitled to financial compensation in bicycle accidents as a result of the physical and emotional trauma they may cause. While an insurance company may try to offer you a small settlement for a bicycle accident, a good bike accident lawyer will help you deal with insurance companies, help you get the medical treatment you need, and understand all of your options in a case.
Portland Bike Safety
Portland has 33 intersections with 42 green “bike boxes.” These are designed to prevent collisions between cyclists using bike lanes and motorists making right turns. Here’s how they work:
- A bike box is a green pavement marking installed at intersections to reduce conflicts between people bicycling and driving. It is a green box on the road with a white bicycle symbol inside. It includes green bicycle lanes approaching and leading from the box.
- When the light is red, bicyclists should stop inside the green box. (Motorists must stop at the white line behind the box.)
Bicyclists can turn right on a red light at bike box intersections; drivers cannot.
- Bicyclists have the right of way on a green light.
The main goal is to prevent collisions between people in cars turning right and people on bikes going straight by increasing visibility and awareness. At a red light, people biking are more visible to people driving by being in front of them. At a green light, the green bike lane through the intersection reminds motorists and cyclists to watch for each other.
The bike box design also allows people bicycling to clear the intersection quickly by moving forward as a group. This may reduce the amount of time a person driving will need to wait to turn right, compared with a standard intersection where people on bikes wait (and move forward on the green) single-file in the bike lane.
If you are a cyclist hit by a car or commercial vehicle in a Portland “bike box” the motorist is likely at fault, and you should retain a lawyer as soon as possible.
Other Bicycle Safety Improvements in Portland
Again, the majority of crashes occur at intersections. Portland has long focused on intersection safety in a number of ways. Many of the bicycle boulevard crossings of collector streets have some type of treatment. Prominent in the transportation system are civil improvements, including curb extensions (which minimize the crossing distance, allow cyclists to take advantage of smaller gaps in traffic, and make cyclists more visible to motorists), to median refuges (which allow cyclists to cross one direction of traffic at a time), to innovations such as a center-left-turn lane for bicycles only (which also allows cyclists to cross one direction of traffic at a time at an off-set intersection. Portland has also used bicycle-only or bicycle-specific traffic signals that have targeted especially difficult intersections. Portland has also instituted a bicycle-only “scramble” signal to halt all automotive movements at an intersection where cyclists transition from an off-street path to the roadway. Portland also uses “HAWK” signals at difficult bicycle boulevard crossings to also allow exclusive crossing by bicyclists (and pedestrians) that stops crossing automotive traffic.
Common Injuries in Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
If you are cycling around Portland, there are some situations you should try to avoid to prevent a bike accident. There are some situations that are very risky and are much more likely to lead to injuries. Here are the leading causes of crashes
Areas where cars are parked along the street are always dangers for cyclists. There is a real, serious threat of being hit by a car door while its opened—motorists are simply not paying attention when exiting cars. To avoid being hit by a car door, ride at least four feet from the lane of parked vehicles. That way, an opening car door cannot reach you. When cycling through these areas, watch for vehicles that are stopped in the turn lane with their emergency flashers on. These vehicles are very likely they are dropping off or picking up passengers. Always watch for rideshare (Uber/Lyft) drivers dropping off or picking up passengers—these passengers almost never look to see if a cyclist is approaching.
The Right Hook
Cars turning right at an intersection often run over cyclists in a bike lane—during the turning sequence, drivers are looking left, not right, and will strike a cyclist during a right turn. Drivers should, of course, look to the right for both pedestrian and bicycle traffic prior to a right turn to ensure its safe to turn, but often don’t. Because bicycles are a much smaller size, they can easily get in a vehicle’s blind spot if the driver is inattentive. When a vehicle makes a right turn, they could easily turn into you or run over you. You often do not have time to react if the vehicle starts making a right turn.
Potholes and Road Debris
Potholes and road hazards litter city streets. These are dangers that you need to watch for and try to avoid. As you ride through an area, strategically glance down so you can be prepared; unfortunately, even the most prepared cyclist cannot avoid potholes or other hazards. In some instances, the City of Portland can face liability for potholes which cause injury, particularly if the City has been placed on notice of a dangerous pothole and refuses to repair it.
Big Trucks and Buses
Trucks, busses, and commercial vehicles are a major threat to cyclist safety. Stay alert and watch for big trucks and buses. Larger vehicles have horrible blind spots, so they are not going to see you as quickly as a regular passenger vehicle would. Bus drivers and tractor-trailer drivers are all under financial pressure to arrive to a certain destination, which often leads to driver inattentiveness and accidents. Big trucks and buses frequently collied with cyclists during the right-turn sequence. When these vehicles carelessly hit a cyclist, the cyclist can sometimes end up underneath the vehicle.
Paying medical bills after a portland bike accident
PIP, or Personal Injury Protection, is automobile insurance coverage that pays medical expenses for individuals injured in an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault. This coverage is also known as no-fault Personal Injury Protection.
PIP applies to, and covers, cyclists hit by a car. Even if pedestrians and cyclists don’t carry PIP coverage themselves, the driver’s PIP insurance should pay medical bills resulting from the accident. PIP thus provides a form of “insurance” for victims of bike crashes who don’t have their own heath insurance. PIP is mandatory in Oregon. Medical bills are charged first to the PIP insurance carrier, and when that coverage is exhausted, to an individual’s healthcare plan. PIP is somewhat unique to Oregon: Washington drivers may elect to carry PIP insurance, although it is not mandatory to do so.
In Oregon, PIP pays for reasonable and necessary medical treatment for all injured occupants in auto accident for up to one year, or until a policy dollar limit is reached, typically a maximum of $15,000.
Under PIP, injured patients are allowed to seek medical care from the practitioner of their choice, including physical therapists, while under the direction of a medical doctor, who must oversee the treatment plan if PIP is to pay for the care.
Although PIP insurance is required to pay for any reasonable and necessary treatment that you receive, by doctors of your choosing, the insurance company may require you to see a doctor of their choice, called an Insurance Medical Examiner, or IME.
Unfortunately, when a bicycle is in a collision with a car, the bicyclist often suffers serious injuries. Even at relatively slow speeds, a bicycle rider could be severely hurt or killed. The most common injuries in bicycle accidents include head trauma, neck and back injuries, broken bones, and internal injuries.
Dozens of bicyclists are killed and seriously injured every year in the City of Portland—cycling wrecks are a major risk to public health. of the serious injuries that occur to bicycle riders, head injuries are likely the most severe. Even when a rider is wearing a helmet, a traumatic brain injury can happen if the head hits the pavement or the vehicle with a hard impact.
Preventing Bicycle Accidents in Oregon
For some in Portland, cycling is a part of the daily commute. Unfortunately, there are countless cyclists injured in crashes every year. If you are cycling in Portland, Oregon, you need to take steps to stay safe.
- Your first step in staying safe when cycling is making sure you are visible. Visibility is essential. Bright vests, with neon yellow, lime green, hot pink, and orange will help you remain visible to those on the road, particularly at night. You can wear a bright jersey, safety vest, or shirt to stand out. Wearing a brightly colored helmet can also help you stand out.
When you are riding your bike after dusk or before dawn, you need to make sure you have the proper lighting so you will be seen. Oregon law requires that bicycles have a white light in front, and a red reflector or light to the rear during “limited visibility conditions.” Oregon law requires that all bicycle operators use lights in “limited visibility conditions.”
“Limited visibility conditions” does not just include nighttime when it is dark. Under Oregon law, anytime from sunset to sunrise and any other time that “due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions” you are not able to discern other persons and vehicles at a distance of 1,000 feet qualifies as “limited visibility conditions.” The law requires the use of lights if the weather makes it difficult to see.
That means having a white headlight and a red taillight, as well as reflective devices on your clothing, shoes, and bike. Under Oregon law, the front light should be visible for 500 feet; the rear light should be visible for 600 feet. Helmet mounted lights are compliant with Oregon law. Make sure your bike has enough reflectors on the fenders and the foot pedals. You should have adequate reflectors on your clothing and helmet, as well. Reflective tape on your chest, back, and legs could be very beneficial. It is wise to carry extra reflective tape along because you might need it. Take extra batteries along for your headlight and taillight.
- Ensure you have operational brakes. Under Oregon law “a bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator of the bicycle to stop the bicycle within 15 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.” From a practical perspective, you need to ensure that your brakes are comfortably operational before you ride.
- Be aware of the traffic laws and adhere to them. When you are riding, ride far enough over in the lane so cars are able to pass you at a distance; avoiding a sideswipe. If you are completely against the curb, you are much more likely to come across debris. Drivers are also much more likely to get too close and come into contact with you. It is easy for a cyclist to be sideswiped by a vehicle or struck by a mirror because the driver fails to properly judge the distance. Of course, if you are riding in a cycling lane, be careful how you position yourself in the lane and do not ride the line.
- Use extra care at intersections—where you are most likely to be hit by a car to truck.
- Always assume that drivers do not see you. Stay alert and assume drivers are not going to notice you approaching. Always be ready to take defensive action if it is necessary so you can avoid the crash.
Bicycles on Public Transportation
Since 1995, every bus operated by TriMet has been equipped with a bicycle rack. The only restrictions are for bicycle on light rail cars during two specific events: the annual Rose Festival one week each June, and during declared ice and snow conditions. Bikes are still allowed on bus bike racks during these times. Only collapsible bikes are allowed inside TriMet buses. Only standard-size bicycles are allowed on the front-mounted racks of buses, and children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Following a multi-year, multi-agency, public-private process, TriMet): 1) eliminated a prior requirement for permits to place bicycles on buses and light rail; 2) eliminated peak-hour, peak-direction restrictions for carrying bicycles on transit, and 3) designed new light rail cars and retrofit existing cars—with hooks for hanging bicycle near the car doors. This last change has greatly reduced conflicts between those bringing bicycles onto light rail cars and those who wish to ride the cars without getting hit in the shins with pedals or rubbed by greasy chains.
Portland built a Tram to move people from the waterfront to the Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital up the Westside hills. Bicycles are allowed on the tram and a significant amount of bicycle parking was built at this new “transit” site.
In response to demand from individual businesses and commercial districts, the Portland bicycle parking program has expanded to include on-street bicycle parking as an option to serve areas where demand for bicycle parking is especially high. These on-street “bicycle corrals” occupy one to two car parking spaces and can accommodate approximately 12 bicycles for every car stall. They are enormously popular. Portland has installations serving two business districts and one local college. They have also proven popular with business owners and districts as they improve the pedestrian environment by removing the often hodge-podge bike parking patterns that result from too few racks and high demand for bicycle parking.
BIKE SIGNALS Portland now has bicycle-only signals operating at locations where bicycle movements were difficult and uncomfortable. The bicycle scramble signal stops all automotive movements at a three-way intersection and allows cyclists to make a direct path-to-roadway connection diagonally through an intersection. Portland’s HAWK signal stops arterial traffic and allows bicycle boulevard traffic to cross safely and comfortably. We installed a bicycle-only signal at a four-way intersection as one of the legs includes a contra-flow bicycle lane. The bicycle-only signal controls the bicycle-only traffic approaching the intersection. Finally, a split-phase signal at one of our major bicycle approaches to our downtown stops a conflicting automotive right turn and allows the through stream of cyclists an unhindered, safe and comfortable path.
Call Flynn Law Firm for your Bicycle Accident.
If you don’t want to settle with your bicycle case, don’t settle for a lawyer who intends to give you anything less than great results. Your initial consultation should always be free, and, with the right lawyer, you should always get the most out of your case possible. Text or call for your no-cost consultation as soon as possible after your bicycle accident.