Portland Bicycle Accident Attorney
Many personal injury attorneys take bicycle cases but very few are actually trying these cases and getting results. Part of the reason personal injury lawyers are not trying these cases is because they aren’t easy. Insurance companies often deny fault. Sometimes its because they don’t know bicycle accident law. Sometimes its because they know many jurors are biased against cyclists. They rely on that. Just read any article in the Oregonian about a cyclist getting hurt and look at the comments after it. You’ll see the bias against cyclists. So what can a person who has been hurt in a bicycle accident do? First, get a good Portland bicycle accident attorney with a history of success at trial. A good bicycle injury lawyer can help force the insurance company to do the right thing. If they don’t then the attorney can make them pay in court. Over the last few years, Chad Stavley has obtained multiple six figure bicycle accident verdicts. Insurance companies know who is making them pay and who isn’t. Make sure you know what you stand to gain or lose before making a decision on hiring a lawyer.
Most of the cases I see fall into one of four common bicycle accident groups: left hook, right hook, pulling out of a driveway without yielding and door opening cases. Learn about each of them in the chart below. Read about bicycle accident law and then look at the damages chart and see what you stand to gain from hiring an experienced Portland bicycle accident attorney.
Common Bicycle Accident Cases
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 a walking speed. They even argue this with no witnesses and when their own driver says they never saw the cyclist. I tried a left hook bicycle injury case in Multnomah County Circuit Court (Portland) where the at-fault driver blamed the cyclist for all the reasons listed above. My client hit the driver’s windshield cutting his back and causing permanent scars. The verdict: $384, 213.89.
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 car 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.
The No-Yield Pull Out
This is another common bicycle accident case. The driver is in a hurry to get out before the cars coming down the road. He doesn’t see that a bicycle is coming too. He pulls out and causes a crash with the cyclist. The defense lawyer will say that the cyclist was going too fast or not paying attention. I tried a case like this in Benton County Circuit Court (Corvallis). The driver was in a truck pulling a trailer. The total length of the truck and trailer was over 40 feet. The cyclist hit the end of the trailer tearing her ACL. She had to have surgery. State Farm denied fault and never made an offer. Their attorney argued that she was not paying attention. Had she paid attention she would have been able to stop before forty feet of truck and trailer passed in front of her bicycle. Also, she must have been going too fast. The verdict: $132,349.60.
The Door Opening
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.
Don’t Talk to the Insurance Adjuster Before Talking to an Attorney
The adjuster for the car driver’s insurance company is not your friend. They may act nice and seem very friendly. Maybe they even are nice. But their job is to keep their bosses from having to pay you much money. Their job is to “adjust” down your claim. Be careful. Call an experienced Portland bicycle lawyer.
The first thing you should know is that you don’t have to talk to them. They may call and ask for a recorded statement. You don’t have to do it. At the least you should call an attorney first and make sure you understand what is going to happen and what precautions to take.
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident case and the adjuster wants to take your statement, call my office and tell my assistant that you are being asked to give a statement and that you’d like advice on how to handle the situation. We will make sure you know your rights before you get taken advantage of.
Bicycle Accident Law
Using The Road
In Oregon the law allows a person on a bicycle to use the road or the sidewalk. Some cities, like Portland, ban cyclists from being on downtown sidewalks. When riding on the road a cyclist must ride as close to the right curb or edge of the road as possible. Exceptions exist when a cyclist is taking a left turn, avoiding a hazard, on a one-way (can be as far left as possible too) or passing another bicycle or vehicle. Insurance adjusters sometimes get confused about this rule. It usually happens when the cyclist is on the left side of the road to make a turn or are struck by a door opening. When the cyclist is on the left to make a turn, they blame them for not being as far right as possible. When hit by a door opening, the adjuster blames the cyclist for being so far to the right. Call a lawyer and make sure you understand the law.
Using The Sidewalk
Oregon law allows cyclists to use the sidewalk. There may be city laws that prevent you from doing so in set areas as there are in Portland in the downtown area. When you are going through a crosswalk or a driveway cutout, when a car is approaching, you must travel at a walking speed. Insurance adjusters get confused about direction of travel on sidewalks. If you are on the road you have to travel the direction of traffic. But on a sidewalk, bicycles can go either direction.
This one is easy. If there is a bicycle lane, you must to use it. Again there are exceptions for turning, avoiding a hazard, passing, and when you are going straight through an intersection and in a bike lane that is to the right of a turn-only vehicle lane.
Opening a Car Door
The law is clear that you are to stay as close to the right curb or road’s edge as reasonably possible. The law also makes it the fault of the car driver if they open a door when it can’t be done safely. Even though the law is clear, insurance companies often blame cyclists for being too close to the cars on the right. You should hire a personal injury lawyer with bicycle accident trial experience.
What Makes Us Different
- Guaranteed No Fee Unless We Win – If we don’t win your bicycle accident case we don’t take a fee.
- Results – Our results have far exceeded the offers made to clients before hiring us. Our verdicts have been more than five times the amount of offers made. See our Results.
- Fair Fee Structure and Costs Policy – Unlike many attorneys we advance the case costs and court filing fees. This can be thousands of dollars. And we take our fee off the net and not the gross. This saves you money.
- Satisfied Clients – Read our testimonials.
- Recognized Expertise – Chad Stavley has been rated by SuperLawyers as one of the top lawyers in the state for personal injury cases. He has been picked by Martindale-Hubbell to receive their AV – Preeminent rating for ability and ethics.
- Ethics – Chad Stavley has an AV Preeminent ethics rating by Martindale-Hubbell.
- Responsive – One of the biggest complaints I hear about lawyers is they did not return the client’s calls or emails. Some even refuse to sit down and meet with clients. We take pride in being ready to answer your questions when you need them answered. If you want to meet to talk about your case, we will make it happen.
What We Must Prove To Win
Fault / Negligence
You must prove that the bicycle accident was the driver’s fault and not yours. Many times we see cases of driver’s not paying attention, running a red lights, driving drunk, text messaging or just driving too fast. The defense may allege that you were also at fault. In Oregon you can recover if you were at fault too but only if the jury says that your fault was 50% of the total. In that case the the damages award would be reduced by the percentage of your own fault.
You must prove that the bicycle accident was a cause of your damages. If you had a torn rotator cuff and a car hit you, there is no recovery for the torn rotator cuff. But you don’t have to have been in perfect health before the crash to recover. Maybe the torn rotator cuff was made worse in the crash. You can still recover for the amount it was made worse. For instance, if you were able to live with the bad shoulder before and now you need surgery then you can recover for that. But you must be able to prove it.
These are the amounts explained in the damages chart below. You have to prove your damages. A good bicycle accident attorney will be able to maximize the amount you can collect. If the case goes to trial the jury pencils in numbers onto the verdict sheet and that is the end of it.