bike-car-accidentIf you’re an avid cyclist in the Portland area, you have likely had some close calls with cars or known people who did, or maybe you are reading this right now because you or someone you know has just been seriously hurt by a car-on-bike accident. For many Portlanders, cycling is a way of life. The risk of making unwanted contact with a car is one you take almost every day, especially if you ride a bicycle to commute to work. Sometimes, that risk can play out and you find yourself in a miserable position. Fortunately, at RizkLaw, we thoroughly understand the ins and outs of insurance law, and can hopefully guide you to making the right decisions for your case.

As a local personal injury law firm, we see a lot of victims of car and bike accidents. In fact, these are among our most common cases. Some of the questions we get from our bike accident clients when they first walk in seek general information that apply to the vast majority of such cases.

Can I sue a driver if I am on my bike and I get hurt?

Though this seems to be a very simple question, the fact is that many often don’t know that they can sue the at-fault party for damages if they were hurt on a bike. Insurance is typically focused on drivers, so it’s easy to see how one can doubt whether or not he can recover damages. The answer is yes, of course you can! So long as you were not responsible for the accident, there are parties that you can sue for damages.

Negligent drivers are the first party you can sue. You may also find reason to sue negligent manufacturers or retailers of bikes and bike parts and accessories, and bike repair shops. There may be a chance a flaw in the bike was partially (or fully) to blame for your accident.

What can I recover in a bicycle accident?

Cyclists are provided with the same rights as responsibilities as motorists in Oregon, meaning that bike accidents are handled similarly. The complication arises when you don’t have insurance to cover incidents that take place on a bike. Regardless, if the driver was at fault for your injuries, you are entitled to the same damages, such as damages for medical treatment, wage loss, and any future pain and suffering. The insured driver may also have to compensate you for any property damage.

Who is liable if I get “doored”?black-car-door-open

Cycling in the city is a high-risk activity, even with Portland’s initiative to create more bike-friendly lanes. Oftentimes, there is risk of getting slammed with a car door as it is opening to let out a soon-to-be pedestrian. Though this is a risk that cyclists take, traffic laws require cyclists to ride in bike lanes which are often close to parked cars. Drivers and passengers are instructed to check for bike traffic before opening their doors, but often fail to do so. The driver or passenger whose door hits you is fully liable in most cases.

Nearly 10% of all bike collisions are due to being doored or trying to avoid being doored. Though the collisions are common and painful, they are actually much safer than other types of collisions, and injuries from dooring accidents are usually not as serious. Still, an experienced personal injury attorney can hold the driver or passenger who hurt you accountable.

How much time do I have to file a complaint?

Under Oregon Law, the statute of limitations for car accidents is 2 years. It is highly advised that after you get yourself evaluated by a physician, you initiate a lawsuit quickly. Do not wait until your medical bills pile up or your injuries worsen and unleash chronic conditions to consider filing a lawsuit. A knowledgeable accident attorney can make a huge difference in your settlement, making the insurance companies comply with state laws to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries and lost wages.

Do I have to pay damages if I damage the motorist’s car?

If you collided with a car, the driver’s insurance can cover any property damage that happened to your bike. However, if a bike collided with you as a driver, the cyclist is responsible for paying damages if he is fully at fault. Any scratches, dents, or missing parts (like a rear view mirror) would be paid by the cyclist, but it wouldn’t be through his car insurance since he was not driving a car at the time he hit you.

If your car has incurred damage due to a cyclist, or you were a cyclist at fault for damaging someone’s car, any homeowner’s insurance you may have may be able to pay for compensatory damage caused by what is called “participating in a covered occurrence.” Activities like bike riding are usually covered.

For more information, talk to attorney Richard Rizk of RizkLaw for competent and honest legal advice. Having worked as a defense attorney for insurance companies in the past, Richard has vital insider information pertaining to the claims process. If you are hurt, RizkLaw is at your service. Call (503) 245-5677 for a free consultation.