motor vehicle accidents

Portland Bicycle Accident Attorney

A bicycle accident can happen in an instant, but the effects can last a lifetime. At Johnston Law Firm, P.C., we understand how devastating a serious bicycle injury can be for a cyclist and his or her family. If you have been seriously injured in a bicycle accident, you probably have questions about who is going to pay your medical bills and lost wages in addition to how you can be compensated for your pain and suffering. Our Portland, Oregon law firm has a proven and winning track record for representing bicyclists against the motorists who injure them.

Motorists have insurance to compensate the bicyclists they injure. While nothing can take the injury away, working with a Portland bicycle accident lawyer is the best way to gain full and fair compensation for the harm you have experienced.

Cases We Handle

We represent clients who have been injured in a broad spectrum of circumstances, including bike accidents, car accidents, truck accidents and other accidents that were not their fault. We also represent the surviving families of people killed in fatal accidents of all kinds.

Compensation for Your Bicycle Accident Injuries

The Johnston Law Firm is widely respected for negotiating excellent settlements on behalf of our injured clients. If the insurance company will not offer you fair compensation for your bicycle accident injuries and damages, we will pursue your rights by filing a lawsuit against the driver who injured you.

Damages compensate injury victims for medical expenses, lost wages (including future lost wages), pain and emotional trauma, and future medical care. We pursue these damages forcefully on our clients’ behalf.

If our Portland personal injury law firm takes your case, attorney Marc A. Johnston will begin an immediate investigation into the cause of your accident. Sometimes important factors are not obvious until the investigation begins. For example, dangerous and defective roads may also be to blame, and the actions of drunk drivers can often be linked to bicycle accidents.

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents In Portland

Portland is home to the most bike riders per capita and the most bike commuters (6 percent of commuters) than any other city in the country, and bicycle accidents are unfortunately common. They are often the result of the reckless actions of motorists, such as speeding, running red lights, and driving distracted or impaired. Serious and potentially life-threatening injuries often occur as a result.

In order to protect themselves, it is important for bicyclists in our area to be aware of how crashes and collisions typically happen. Common ways these accidents typically happen include:

Crashes and Collisions Involving Automobiles

This is by far the most common cause of bicycle accidents in Portland. Reckless driving behaviors on the part of motorists are generally to blame. These include:

  • Speeding and going too fast for conditions;
  • Failing to yield for bicyclists at stop signs and other traffic signals;
  • Tailgating, improper passing, and other aggressive driving behaviors;
  • Distracted driving, which can cause motorists to veer into bike lanes;
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medications.

To protect themselves, it is important for Portland bicyclists to drive defensively. Do not automatically assume other drivers see you or will stop at intersections. Pay close attention when riding, wear light, bright colors to increase visibility, and use a helmet to reduce your risks of serious injuries. For more information, please read our article on “Four Common Ways Bicycle Accidents in Portland Happen.”

Dangerous Road Conditions

Poor infrastructure and a general lack of proper repair or maintenance is the second most common cause of bicycle accidents. This often includes:

  • Uneven road surfaces;
  • Gravel roads and sections with numerous potholes;
  • Lack of bicycle lanes;
  • Lack of traffic signs and signals.

The City of Portland recently shared results of a study on road factors and bicycle safety that emphasizes the importance of addressing these types of issues. While the city focuses on making improvements, bicyclists need to take extra care in choosing which route they travel. Picking areas that have established bike lanes, clearly marked signs, and other updates can help to reduce bicycle accident risks.

Crashes Involving Fixed Objects
Debris on roadways and general lack of maintenance often require bicyclists to swerve unexpectedly, increasing the risks of bicycle accidents involving fixed objects. In Portland, one of the most common collisions is with car doors. When drivers pull over for on-street parking, many attempt to exit their vehicles without looking first. To avoid serious injuries, bicyclists should use extra caution in these areas.

Common Bicycle Accident Injuries

Even with protections such as helmets in place, bicyclists are among the most vulnerable road users. As bikes offer little in the way of personal protection, bicycle accident injuries are often severe. The latest statistics from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) are alarming:

  • As many as five or more bicyclists are killed in bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles each year.
  • More than 20 bicyclists suffer what PBOT terms “serious injuries” as a result of bike accidents. These are defined as injuries that prevent the victim from walking, driving, or engaging in other normal daily activities.
  • Dozens more victims suffer personal injuries that are considered less severe, but can still prevent them from working or engaging in their favorite hobbies while resulting in mountains of medical expenses.

Even a minor crash while riding a bike can end up resulting in serious personal injuries. Among the most common include:

  • Cuts, lacerations, and road rash: Cuts and lacerations from contact with the road, glass, vehicle parts and other objects may be serious enough as to require stitches and put you at risk for infection while rod rash can result in permanent scars.
  • Burns: Contact with hot engine oils or parts can cause major injuries for cyclists in even relatively minor bicycle accidents.
  • Soft tissue injuries: Sprained, strained, and torn muscles are among the most common types of bicycle accident injuries. Unfortunately, it can take months to recover. Additionally, bicyclists are in danger of suffering facial or dental fractures as a result of crashes, as well as eye injuries that can permanently impact their vision.
  • Broken bones: Broken bones, dislocated joints, and torn muscles or tendons are all common.
  • Back, neck, and head injuries: Injuries such as concussions, fractured skulls, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are common among cyclists. Depending on the severity, they can result in permanent impairments.
  • Crushing injuries: This includes fractures ribs and potentially life threatening lung injuries.
  • Abdominal injuries: Fractured spleens, renal contusions, traumatic hernia, and other types of internal trauma can happen as a result of being thrown from a bike or due to crushing injuries.
  • Spinal cord injuries: As one of the most serious types of bicycle accident injuries, these can result in partial or complete paralysis.

Know What to Do After a Bicycle Accident In Portland

Even the most cautious and experienced cyclists can find themselves involved in a bicycle accident in Portland. Despite wearing a helmet and taking other precautions, serious and potentially life-threatening injuries may occur as a result. What do you need to know and do following a bicycle accident?

  • Get medical attention for your injuries, regardless of your symptoms or how minor they may appear:
  • Report the accident immediately to law enforcement;
  • Get a description of the driver, their vehicle, and the time/place where the accident occurred;
  • If possible, take photos of the vehicle involved, the accident scene, and your injuries;
  • Get a copy of the police report, which will contain contact and insurance information for the at-fault driver.

Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to seek compensation through the at-fault driver’s insurer. Before making any statements or accepting any settlements, speak with our Portland bicycle accident attorneys. It is not uncommon for insurers to either deny or downplay claims. We aggressively negotiate with these companies on your behalf to ensure you get the maximum amount you deserve.

If your injuries are severe or the driver is uninsured, we can guide you in filing a personal injury lawsuit against them. Under the Oregon Revised Statutes, damages you may be entitled to include coverage of current and future medical expenses, reimbursement for lost wages and future losses in earnings, and compensation for the pain and suffering your bike accident causes.

Extra Precaution and Protection for Cyclists

When it comes to crashes and collisions, Oregon is one of the most deadly states for bicyclists. An average of one fatal bike accident happens per month while dozens of other victims suffer serious personal injuries.

With all the bikes on the road, cars need to be extremely attentive, check their blind spots before making any turns or changing lanes, be observant of bike lanes and remember that cyclists share the road with the same rights and privileges as motor vehicle drivers. That being said, to protect yourself, it is important to be aware of factors that put you at risk:

  • Lack of safety precautions: Not wearing a helmet, not properly maintaining your bicycle, and not riding in designated bike lanes increase the likelihood of bike accidents and injuries.
  • Dangerous roads: Riding in road construction areas, places where there are a lack of traffic signals, and in sections of the city that experience heavy traffic increase the odds a bike accident will happen.
  • Reckless drivers: Always be on the lookout for motorists engaged in dangerous behaviors such as speeding, running red lights, and driving while impaired.

Regardless of the factors involved in a bicycle accident, our aim is to develop the strongest case we can based on our knowledge of the law and its application to the facts of our clients’ cases. To do this we use years of successful trial results, and the experience we have gained in handling more than 1000 personal injury cases.

Local Advocacy

In pursuit of the best possible results for our bicycle accident cases, we partner with Portland and Oregon bicycle advocacy organizations, including Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Bike Portland.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bicycle Accidents

If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, you may have numerous questions about your rights and options after the crash. Some of the most frequently asked questions our bicycle accident lawyers hear from our clients include:

What should I do after a bicycle accident?

It can be difficult to know what to do immediately after a bicycle accident, especially if you have been seriously injured and are severely traumatized by the crash. It’s important that all of the following happen after a crash. Whether or not you, specifically, are the one to do the following things, though, will likely depend on the severity of your injuries.

  • Your accident needs to be reported to the police. It’s very important that your bicycle accident is reported to the police, that the names of all those involved are recorded, and that you get a copy of the police report. If your accident is reported to the police, it will be difficult to create a connection between the accident and your injuries when you are seeking damages from your insurer.
  • You need medical care. Getting medical care after an accident is incredibly important. Most importantly, getting medical care improves your chances of healing to the maximum extent possible – what’s known as reaching Maximum Medical Improvement. But getting medical care, just like filing a police report, helps to establish a connection between your damages and the accident. After you are released from the hospital, it’s also very important that you follow your doctor’s medical orders. If you don’t, then you may not heal to the extent possible, which can be used against you during settlement negotiations.
  • Your crash needs to be investigated. Your crash needs to be investigated in order to determine what happened, how the accident could have been prevented, whose negligence caused the accident, and who’s to blame. Conducting an investigation on your own is difficult, especially if you’re seriously injured. As such, it’s smart to hire an attorney who can travel to the accident scene, track down eyewitnesses, take pictures, bring in accident reconstruction experts, and more.
  • You need to file an insurance claim. If you have insurance, you should give your insurance company notice of your accident, even though you were hit while riding your bike. You should also make sure that the at-fault driver’s insurance is notified of the crash, too. Eventually, you’ll need to go through the formal process of filing a claim in order to recover compensation – our lawyers can help.

What if the driver who hit me doesn’t have insurance?

Being hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance is one of the worst possible things imaginable – even worse than the fact of being hit alone. If the driver who hit you doesn’t have insurance, though, there may still be some sources of compensation. These include, but are not limited to, your own policy’s PIP or uninsured/underinsured insurance, the insurance of a third party, a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party, your health insurance, and more.

What happens if I wasn’t wearing a helmet?

If a person is under 16 years of age and they are riding a bicycle, they are required to wear a helmet. That means that you do not have a legal obligation to be helmeted while riding in Portland. That being said, wearing a helmet is always a good idea. If you are in a crash, wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury – a leading cause of death in bicycling crashes. If you weren’t wearing a helmet and you suffer a traumatic brain injury, the insurance company may make an argument that you could have prevented the brain injury by wearing a helmet, and therefore that specific injury is partially your fault.

What If I’m found to be partially at fault for the accident?

In some cases, both the cyclist and the driver are partially to blame for an accident. For example, perhaps the driver was distracted, but the accident occurred at night and the cyclist didn’t have lights on their bike. If you are found to be partially to blame for your accident, you should know that your fault is not a bar to your recovery. However, if you are found to be partially to blame, then your damages will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. So, if you’re found to be 10 percent at fault and your claim is worth $100,000, you can only hold the other party liable for 90 percent of that, or $90,000.

How much is my case worth?

Determining the value of your claim is something that cannot be done in an instant – any attorney who tells you otherwise or makes grand promises about how big of a settlement they can get for you should be approached with caution. The value of your case depends on numerous factors, including the degree of your injuries, whether or not you contributed to the case, and other damages you’ve suffered. What’s more, even if you deserve to be paid a certain sum, what you’ll be able to recover is dependent on the amount of compensation that’s available through insurance policies.

Should I work with a bicycle accident attorney?

While you don’t have to work with a bicycle accident attorney, doing so is a smart decision. When you work with an attorney, your attorney can handle all of the most important elements of your case, like opening an investigation into your accident, talking to the insurance adjuster on your behalf, and making a determination about fault and the value of your claim. Your attorney can also negotiate a settlement offer, and represent you in court if need be. Throughout the process, an attorney will be available to answer any questions that you have and make sure that your case is on track.

Contact an Experienced Bicycle Injury Lawyer

When crashes or collisions happen due to any of the above, victims have the right to seek compensation for the damages they suffer in a bicycle accident claim.  In this situation, you can count on the Johnston Law Firm P.C. to provide the trusted legal guidance and professional representation you need. Call (503) 546-3167 or contact our Portland bicycle accident attorneys online and request a consultation to discuss your case today. 

The Johnston Law Firm, LLC proudly represents clients in all cities and counties in Oregon: Portland, Gresham, Milwaukie, Lake Oswego, Tigard, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas.

Marc Johnston
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