Oregon Personal Injury Protection For Bicyclists

Bikes are generally required to follow the same traffic laws as motor vehicles. A major difference between bikes and cars, however, is insurance. Auto insurance is mandatory for road vehicles in Oregon, whereas the law does not require bicyclists using the road to carry insurance.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is built into insurance policies issued in Oregon for four-wheeled passenger vehicles. It provides no-fault coverage to the policyholder and his or her family members residing in the same household in the event of an accident. It also protects pedestrians who are struck by the insured vehicle. ORS 742.520(2)(b). PIP law defines a pedestrian as “a person while not occupying a self-propelled vehicle other than a wheelchair,” a self-propelled vehicle being a motorized vehicle. ORS 742.518(6); see also ORS 801.360. Thus, PIP law treats bicyclists as pedestrians.

The purpose of PIP is to pay for costs incurred as a result of injuries sustained in an accident. These include medical costs, lost wages, childcare, essential services (e.g., cooking) and funeral expenses. Most policies provide the minimum coverage required by law:

  • $15,000 for one year’s medical bills that are deemed “reasonable and necessary”
  • 70 percent of your lost wages up to $3,000 per month for an aggregate of 52 weeks if you were forced to take more than 14 days off work
  • $25 per day up to $750 for child care if you were hospitalized at least 24 hours
  • $30 per week up to 52 weeks for essential services like having someone cook or clean for you
  • Up to $5,000 for funeral expenses incurred within a year

In a nutshell, if you involved in an accident with a car whilst riding your bicycle, there should be some PIP coverage available to you. There are several variables in the following sections that can have some bearing on the issue. Contact Richard Rizk if you are at all uncertain, or if you are having any trouble with insurance companies.

If You Do Not Have an Auto Policy

The next important point to note is that a bicyclist must be “struck” by a vehicle in order to trigger that driver’s PIP. ORS 742.520(1). That generally means a physical collision between the car and the bicycle. The more controversial cases in this respect will be where a car ran into another object, which caused that object to move and hit a cyclist. If the driver was negligent, the cyclist would definitely have a legal action in tort, because the driver’s conduct was what is known as the “proximate (legal) cause” of the cyclist’s injury, i.e., but for the collision with the object the cyclist would not have been harmed. But in these circumstances, it might be harder to obtain the driver’s PIP.

That is one of the reasons it is important to consult with a lawyer after a bicycle/car accident. If you are involved in an accident and you do not have any auto insurance policies, you should still be able to tap into the PIP coverage of the driver who hit you. Richard Rizk can quickly determine the best approach after considering the facts of each case. He will fight your battle with all insurance companies involved so you can concentrate on healing.

If You Have an Auto Policy

If you are injured in an accident while riding your bike and you also have an auto insurance policy, your PIP coverage should pay for the items detailed above. As discussed, PIP is designed as no-fault coverage, so even if you were partly to blame for the accident, PIP will pay for your medical bills for injuries you sustained. This is particularly useful in instances where a bicyclist has the misfortune of being hit by an uninsured vehicle.

Also, your family members who reside in your household should be able to claim your PIP after an accident. This is particularly important for your children, who, no matter how well you teach them, are at risk of getting into accidents.

Insurance companies have been known to fight their clients on the issue of using their own PIP. Stories abound about claims adjusters contriving technicalities from policies. Insurers who do this are taking big risks because they might be exposed to attorney fee and legal costs awarded against them if a court subsequently finds denial of benefits was unreasonable. Richard Rizk knows the kind of evasive maneuvers insurers might try and knows how to get them to back down and pay out.

“Stacking” Coverage

Most folks think if the bad driver’s insurance is not enough to pay for a loss, one’s own insurance will pickup the shortfall under “underinsured motorist coverage”.  True in Washington State. Not yet true in Oregon. Currently, injured Oregon motorists uninsured motorist coverage is reduced by the coverage of the at fault driver.

On January 1, 2016 persons seriously injured in an Oregon motor vehicle crash will have access to more insurance proceeds when SB 411 becomes law. The new law will require the insurer for the driver at fault to pay the injured persons before repaying the PIP medical insurer. The new law will also allow the injured person to access the at fault drivers limits PLUS coverage under his own policy to the extent the at fault driver’s policy is insufficient to pay the loss.  This change will be a huge help to auto injury victims.

Protect Yourself in the Event of an Accident

If you have been injured while bicycling, you need to ensure that your injuries are taken care of. Call Richard Rizk – Personal Injury Lawyer Portland today at (503) 245-5677 for a free consultation.