Oregon, and especially Portland, has a large community of cyclists. We also have a lot of cars. When drivers are not responsible it is the vulnerable cyclist who gets significantly injured or even killed. The victim or their family are left trying to figure out how to get medical expenses paid, get replacement income and plan for the future.
Chad Stavley has handled many cases involving cyclists who have been injured due to negligent drivers. He has two of the largest bicycle verdicts in Oregon. When you need a lawyer for a bicycle accident case, you should get one with experience taking on the big car insurance companies at trial and winning. Getting good verdicts drives higher settlements. We have the winning experience that makes insurance companies nervous. Call and get your free consultation.
Laws that Apply to Cyclists
Having a basic understanding of the law that applies to bicycle cases will help you to when you discuss your case with a lawyer for the first time. Sometimes, fault is clear, and these rules will not matter. But when there is a dispute about who is at fault, Oregon’s traffic laws are very important.
The first thing to know is that every person riding a bicycle upon a public roadway is subject to the motor vehicle code and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle except for those provisions which by their very nature can have no application and when otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code.
There are some equipment requirements in Oregon law. First, anyone under the age of sixteen must wear a helmet when riding a bike on a public road or premises open to the public. All cyclists must ha have 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. In limited visibility conditions, a cyclist must have a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle. The cyclist must have a red reflector or lighting device or material of such size or characteristic and so mounted as to be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of a car with low beams.
Where Can a Cyclist Ride in Oregon?
Cyclists can ride on the road or on the sidewalk. When riding on the road, a cyclist must use a bicycle lane when there is one available unless avoiding a hazard, preparing to make a turn, passing, or when the bike lane turns into a turn lane. When there is not a bike lane, a cyclist using the roadway must normally travel as close as possible to the right edge of the roadway unless the cyclist is passing, taking a left turn, or avoiding a hazard. On a one-way street, the bicyclist can keep as far to the left as possible. A bicyclist can pass on the left like other vehicles and on the right if it can be done safely under the conditions.
A bicyclist can ride on the sidewalk but cannot leave a curb or place of safety into the path of a car in a manner that creates an immediate hazard. A cyclist must give an audible warning before overtaking a pedestrian. A cyclist must slow to ordinary walking speed when entering a crosswalk and when approaching or crossing a driveway, curb cut or pedestrian ramp. Bicyclists can use sidewalks (except electric bikes) unless local or city law prevents them from doing so. When using a sidewalk, the law treats a cyclist as a pedestrian.
What Duties do Cars Owe to Cyclists in Oregon?
Both cyclist and drivers have a duty to keep a lookout and use reasonable care when driving or riding. Drivers have some specific obligations that relate to cyclists. First, a driver must yield the right of way to cyclists who are in a bicycle lane. Drivers also must yield to bicyclists on the sidewalk. This normally comes into play when a driver is entering or exiting a driveway. Remember, the cyclist must slow to ordinary walking speed when crossing a driveway. Driver’s also must use caution when passing a cyclist. A driver can only pass the cyclist on the left and must give a safe distance. A safe distance is a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver's lane of traffic. There are times when the safe passing law does not apply, such as when the driver is passing on the right because the cyclist is taking a left turn, or when there is a bike lane present and the driver is driving 35 miles per hour or less.
Common Types of Bicycle Injury Cases
Over the years, we have handled numerous cases and seen almost every kind of bicycle case imaginable. There are a few categories of cases that we think are the most common in Portland. In this section, we will explain the most common bicycle cases we see.
The Left Hook
In the left hook bicycle accident case, a cyclist is riding down the road. A car is coming the other way. Neither has a stop sign or light as they come to an intersection. The car takes a left turn across the bicycle’s lane. The cyclist has no time to stop. The cyclist is injured in the crash. The insurance company lawyers will claim the cyclist was speeding, not visible enough, not paying attention, or not using the road correctly. Their attorney may even say the cyclist was on the sidewalk and went into a crosswalk at greater than walking speed. They even argue this with no witnesses and when their driver says they never saw the cyclist.
The Right Hook
In the right hook bicycle accident case a cyclist is riding down the road. A car is heading the same way behind the cyclist. As the vehicle passes the cyclist, the driver takes a right turn in front of the cyclist. The cyclist cannot stop in time and crashes into the car. The cyclist is injured. Again, the insurance company lawyer will try to blame the cyclist for the usual reasons.
Failing to Yield When Leaving a Parking Lot
This is another typical bicycle accident case. The driver is in a hurry to get out of a parking lot or side road before the oncoming cars. The driver doesn’t see that a bicycle is in the lane of traffic. The driver pulls out and causes a crash with the cyclist. The insurance company and their lawyers will say that the cyclist was going too fast or not paying attention.
The Door Prize
This is a common case in Portland. A driver parks her car on the side of the road in on-street parking. She does not look in her mirrors to make sure it is clear before opening her door. When she opens the door, it hits a cyclist, and they are injured. The insurance company lawyer will claim that the cyclist was too close to parked cars, not paying attention, and riding too fast.
The Mirror Impact
In the mirror impact case, a driver intends to pass a cyclist who is either in the bicycle lane or on the right side of the roadway. The driver thinks they have given the cyclist enough room but misjudges and strikes the cyclist with the side of their car – usually the mirror.
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Mr. Stavley represented a Portland cyclist who was hit by a car that turned directly in front of him. The cyclist was thrown into the driver’s windshield and suffered a large open wound to his back that required surgical repair and left him with an unsightly scar. The driver’s insurance company, The Hartford, blamed the cyclist for the crash. After Mr. Stavley became involved, the offers steadily rose from $40,000 to $90,000, and eventually to $150,000 just before trial. Ultimately, the verdict more than doubled the last offer.
Mr. Stavley represented a cyclist injured on her commute to work when a truck pulling a trailer pulled out in front of her, causing her to hit the trailer. The cyclist suffered a knee injury which required surgery. State Farm denied liability, stating that the cyclist was to blame for not paying attention – the impact was with the very end of the long trailer. No offer was ever made. The case went to trial and a Benton County jury found for Mr. Stavley’s client and awarded $132,349.60.
Can I get my medical bills and lost wages through personal injury protection (PIP) while my case is getting sorted out?
Yes. If you have auto insurance with PIP, it will cover you even when you are on a bicycle. If you do not have auto insurance, you can still get PIP benefits through the at-fault driver’s PIP. For medical, the at-fault driver’s PIP is secondary to your health insurance. That means, that they must cover what your health insurance does not.
If I have auto insurance with UM/UIM does that cover me when I am on a bicycle?
Yes. You will be protected to the limits of your insurance policy if you are hit by an uninsured driver or an underinsured driver.
How long will it take to resolve my bicycle accident case?
That often depends on the type of injury you sustained, and whether the at-fault driver’s insurance company decides to play fair or whether they want to fight. I’d be happy to discuss your situation and give you an estimate on how long it will likely take.
Reviews from Clients
“Chad was a godsend after I was hit by a car. He had an excellent response time and was great about getting all the paperwork and the settlement taken care of as quickly and as efficiently as possible. 11/10 would recommend. He managed to get the insurance company to settle for more than originally anticipated and I'm extremely grateful I had him working on my case for me.”
- Nico Parodi
“Chad and his team helped me navigate an uninsured driver/bicycling injury. While I spoke to other attorneys; I felt Chad was the most personable. I also feel that hiring Chad was a wonderful choice because he was able to explain the process, his paralegals reached out regularly to keep me looped in, and the settlement wrapped rather quickly. I'd recommend hiring him to anyone whom wants a trustworthy representative, and a pleasant experience with excellent results.”
- Brian O’Donnell
“Chad is personable and caring. He will continue to seek out all possibilities for building that strong case. His staff is very professional and compliment Chad.”
- Ed Sharick
“Excellent from start to finish!!”
- Matthew Cole
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