Oregon is home to some of the finest opportunities to enjoy the outdoors on a bicycle. What that also means, though, is that Oregon is also a place where bicyclists who live far from here run the risk of suffering injuries in a crash. When that happens, it’s reasonable not to know where to turn. You should start by getting in touch with an experienced Oregon bicycle accident lawyer who can help you with the correct next steps.
When you suffer injuries in an accident close to home, it may seem easy to know what to do — call your regular local attorney and seek advice. When you’re far from home, that same attorney may be unable to represent you. Knowing what to do and doing it in a timely fashion is very important because you only have a limited time before the statute of limitations runs out.
Fortunately for a Canadian couple who were injured while bicycling in Oregon, they recognized what to do and did so within the deadline period.
The cyclists were biking through the Columbia River Gorge in Hood River County. In that area, the shoulder of Interstate 84 doubles as a bicycle lane, a fact which was clearly marked by a highway sign. OregonLive reported that an 18-wheel semi-truck “veered over the fog line and into the shoulder” that doubled as the bicycle lane, hitting both bicyclists. The wife suffered a knee laceration and multiple abrasions.
The crash caused the husband much more serious problems, as it nearly sheared off his lower left leg, according to OregonLive. The damage included numerous leg and foot fractures and ultimately required four surgeries in Portland before the man could return home to Vancouver. The husband eventually regained the ability to use his bicycle but reported “difficulty” doing so, limiting himself to “way shorter rides” and discontinuing his old practice of bicycling to and from work, according to the Vancouver Sun.
The husband also told the Sun that he and his wife had no knowledge about how the system works in the U.S. “In B.C., you call ICBC,” he said. “Here we had no contact from any party” and were left completely on their own. (ICBC is the compulsory government-run auto insurer in British Columbia.)
Fortunately, they took the step they needed to take: hiring an Oregon injury lawyer. Although they did not contact this office, they did retain a two-attorney firm based in Newport and successfully sued in federal court. The couple said they were “amazed by the American civil justice system — there is no equivalent in Canada,” the Sun reported.
These accident victims’ resounding success in their jury trial is a reminder, not just of the importance of retaining skillful counsel, but also of how small firms can deliver big results for their clients.
A Case of Recklessness and an Award of Punitive Damages
The couple’s legal team advanced a case against the truck driver and his employer — a major logistics company — based on recklessness. The couple’s legal team recognized that the evidence, which indicated that the driver drove “over the speed limit down a winding road widely known and well-marked as a bicycle route, while repeatedly crossing the fog line and jerking back into his lane over the course of two miles,” was evidence of “a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm.”
That proof of reckless conduct allowed the couple to recover not only economic and noneconomic damages but also punitive damages. After the trial’s conclusion, the jury awarded the couple more than $1.3 million in economic damages, $4 million in noneconomic damages, and another $4 million in punitive damages — a total sum equal to nearly $13 million in Canadian dollars.
That judgment and damages award went before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which, in August of this year, affirmed the judgment and damages award entirely.
Few things are as stressful as getting seriously injured while you’re far from home. If that misfortune has happened to you due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you probably have a massive number of questions. For the knowledgeable answers you need, look to the experienced Oregon bicycle accident attorneys at Kaplan Law LLC. Our attorneys are well-versed in helping all kinds of bicycle accident victims, whether you live inside Multnomah County or outside the U.S. Call us today at (503) 226-3844 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.