Thousands of accidents occur every year in Oregon, a large percentage of them involving pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. These accidents are scary and stressful, often causing serious harm and sometimes death. Whether you’re a seasoned bicyclist or a weekend warrior inspired by Portland’s bike trails, it’s important to know your Oregon bicyclist rights and responsibilities.


There are numerous statistics available about car accidents, traffic fatalities, and bike accidents in Oregon and the United States as a whole, and they’re all quite intimidating and terrifying. Data from the NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System shows that in 2012 there were 722 bicyclist deaths nationally, up 6 percent from 2011 and 16 percent from 2010. On a per capita basis of all 50 states and DC, Florida ranked first. Oregon ranked 7th with an annual deaths-per-million-residents of 2.8. Oregon’s 3-year death totals for 2010-2012 was 32; an average of 11 deaths per year.

Information obtained from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute shows that the most serious injuries in bicyclist deaths are to the head, and that helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by half. Data also reveals that 84 percent of bicyclist deaths are individuals 20 years and older, indicating that helmets are important for riders of all ages. This is shocking when you learn that 63 percent of bicyclists who died in 2013 were reportedly not wearing helmets.

Other IIHS/HLDI data shows that bicyclist deaths were the highest during the months of June, August, and September of 2013; this can reasonably be connected with warmer weather and drier roads for cyclists. In 2013, bicyclist deaths were highest during the hours of 6-9 p.m. During that same year a staggering 68 percent of bicyclists died in urban areas with nearly 40 percent of those deaths occurring at intersections.

Bicycle Accident Claims

If you or someone you love is involved in an accident there are some crucial steps to take to ensure you comply with Oregon bicycle law. First you must call the Portland Police Bureau or Beaverton Police and file a police report. This is important even if you think you aren’t injured, or the other party is pressuring you to settle the matter without authorities. Next you should obtain the contact information for the other party. Details include: the license plate number, insurance information, contact’s address and phone number, contact’s driver’s license number, and any pertinent information from witnesses. Don’t admit fault or minimize injuries as this could be used against you in the future. Record details of the accident and take pictures to preserve evidence. Go to the hospital to seek treatment, and finally, file a claim with the other party’s car insurance provider.

The claim process after a bicycle accident is very similar to that of a car accident. You can and should file a claim with the car insurance company of the person who hit you. In most cases you have two years to file a claim, but your Portland personal injury attorney will tell you it’s usually best to file as soon as you can. Your Portland bicycle accident lawyer will advise you about any extenuating circumstances regarding filing, especially those that would limit the amount of time you have. Use your own auto insurance’s PIP (Personal Injury Protection) to pay for medical care until your claim is settled. Your health insurance policy or the responsible party’s PIP policy will cover your medical care if you don’t have auto insurance.

Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

If you’re wondering “how can a personal injury attorney help me?” allow us to explain. An experienced Portland bicycle accident attorney can help you deal with the emotional repercussions of a bicycle accident and guide you through the tedious and difficult process that is a bicycle accident claim. He or she will speak with insurance companies on your behalf to reduce your stress and ensure only the obligatory information is shared. Your lawyer also has professional contacts to help you build a stronger case for court; these contacts include reconstruction specialists and expert mediators. Most importantly, your Portland personal injury lawyer can handle medical liens, deal with Medicare, and ultimately win you more money in a lawsuit.

If you have been in an accident, need legal advice before speaking with your insurance, or you wish to file a claim, contact Paul Galm Law today!

Case Example:

Paul recently had a bike accident case where his client was hit by a car turning left as the client was crossing the intersection from the opposite direction. Sadly, his client suffered a traumatic brain injury and did not remember a single fact from the accident. The only witness was the driver, who claimed the client was at fault. Using local and state bike laws, an accident reconstruction specialist, and aggressive cross-examination of the driver, Paul was still able to recreate what actually happened. He successfully proved the driver was at fault.

Paul’s client went from getting nothing to being compensated for her medical costs, property costs, and pain and suffering.