In what can only be considered a bit of depressing irony, OregonLive recently reported on a bicyclist struck and injured… while on his way to a rally “to demand safer streets” for bicyclists and pedestrians. This bicyclist’s injuries were, thankfully, not severe. They nevertheless highlight that much work needs to be done to ensure that everyone using Portland’s streets and roads can do so safely. Part of that process often involves holding accountable those responsible for unsafe conditions. That is also where an experienced Portland bicycle accident lawyer can provide you with invaluable assistance.
According to the OregonLive report, a van driver ran a red light and slammed into the bicyclist as the bicyclist crossed the street inside a marked crosswalk.
As this accident reflects, some crashes involve significant driver negligence or recklessness, and safety improvements can only do so much to protect bicyclists and pedestrians from those drivers. For those injured bicyclists and pedestrians, the law allows them to recoup economic and non-economic damages from the at-fault driver. If the driver was driving recklessly, the injured bicyclist or pedestrian may also be entitled to recover punitive damages.
Often, the problem isn’t limited to the misconduct of a car, truck, van, or SUV driver. On many occasions, the transportation infrastructure doesn’t keep bicyclists and pedestrians as safe as it should, advocates say. According to the OregonLive report, one speaker at the recent rally in Portland — a mother who lost her 1-year-old son to a crosswalk accident along North Lombard Street — told participants that “every day I think of the simple crosswalk improvements that could have prevented the crash.” A 29-year-old bicyclist left with multiple disabilities after her accident stated that “I am grateful that I survived, [but] I mourn the life that I no longer get to live because of the inadequate state of transportation infrastructure in Oregon.”
Just in the last two months, multiple Portland pedestrians have lost their lives in collisions with vehicles, including a 55-year-old woman fatally struck near the intersection of Northeast Fargo Street and 162nd Avenue, a Gresham man struck and killed near Southeast Powell Street and 138th Avenue, and another pedestrian killed at Southeast Stark Street and 146th Avenue.
Suing the Government for Its Unsafe Streets
Utilizing the court system can be essential to advocating for safer streets. Last month, bicycle advocates filed a lawsuit here in Multnomah County alleging that the City of Portland failed to implement “proper infrastructure improvements” and, in the process, violated a 1971 law that protects bicyclists and pedestrians, Willamette Week reported. In 1995, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance sued the city under that same statute and won. That success resulted in new bicycle lanes in the Rose Quarter area.
Individual actions can help drive change. They also can allow an affected family to get much-needed compensation when merely suing a negligent driver isn’t enough. You can, for example, potentially pursue a claim against the city if a city-owned street contained a hazardous condition that played a role in causing the accident that injured you or your loved one. Be aware from the start that these cases often are especially challenging, though not impossible to win. Also, these cases have very short time limits for taking action. You have only one year to file a notice of claim (under ORS Section 30.275) if the case involves a wrongful death. For all other tort actions against governmental entities, the notice-of-claim deadline is just 180 days from the date of injury.
That means acting with all due haste can be critical to success. If yours was an injury matter that arose from someone else’s misconduct or negligent failure to act — whether that someone was an individual driver or the City of Portland — the knowledgeable Oregon bicycle accident attorneys at Kaplan Law LLC are here to help. Our attorneys are fully up-to-date on all the laws and will provide you with accurate, honest, useful, and understandable advice about your case. Call us today at (503) 226-3844 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.