The last few months have brought a rash of deadly bicycle crashes here in Oregon, including at least two this month (one in Clackamas County and one in Polk County.) The tragic stream of fatalities is a reminder of the extreme dangers bicyclists face when they’re on the road — be it here in Portland or a rural area. Discovering the truth about the bicycle crash that took the life of your loved one can sometimes be a complex, challenging process. An experienced Oregon bicycle accident lawyer can help you both with amassing the factual evidence you need, and utilizing that proof in an appropriate legal action.
Sometimes, the facts regarding a crash can be fairly straightforward. In the recent Clackamas County accident, the mountain manager of the Mount Hood Skibowl died in a two-vehicle collision just east of Government Camp. According to the Oregon State Police, the 48-year-old bicyclist was headed southbound on Highway 173 when the 71-year-old driver of a Hyundai SUV, who sought to turn left from Highway 173 onto West Leg Road, failed to yield the right of way and turned into the bicyclist’s path.
The impact was so powerful that it launched the bicyclist from his bike and into the roadway. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Other times, though, the facts may be murkier. In a fatal accident that received multiple reports from Bike Portland.org, a popular middle school science teacher from Vancouver died while biking in rural Polk County. The collision happened along Highway 221 about 10 miles north of Salem.
The Oregon State Police’s report said that the driver of Ford F-350 pickup struck the southbound bicyclist from the rear after the “bicyclist fell over, into the lane of travel, just as the F-350 passed.” The report indicated that the driver of the pickup had slowed down while passing, but was unable to avoid running over the bicyclist.
According to one eyewitness, though, the accident actually unfolded in a much different way. That witness told BikePortland that she was traveling northbound on Highway 221 when she saw the collision unfold. The witness stated that she noticed that the driver of the F-350 truck was “going pretty fast,” that the bicyclist “looked over his shoulder” toward the truck, and that the truck never stopped, swerved, or moved over, but instead continued straight ahead and “clipped” the bicycle.
Oregon’s Laws About Safely Passing Bicyclists
One important thing to note about this Polk County crash is that, even if the bicyclist did fall over, that may not necessarily absolve the truck driver of all potential liability. Section 811.065(1)(a) of the Oregon Revised Statutes says that all car/truck/SUV drivers must pass bicycles going 35 mph or faster at a “safe distance.” The statute defines “safe distance” as “a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver’s lane of traffic.”
If you were hurt (or a loved one killed) in a bicycle crash, it is a worthwhile exercise to check your (or your loved one’s) auto insurance policy. That policy may have substantial uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Many policies have a minimum of $100,000/$300,000 coverage.
If you were hurt (or a loved one killed) in a bicycle crash, it is also well worth your while to consult an experienced legal professional about your situation. The difference between success and failure may be a single eyewitness statement or a single piece of video footage, meaning your case may hinge upon having the right legal team investigating and pursuing that evidence on your behalf. The Oregon bicycle accident attorneys at Kaplan Law LLC are here to help you understand your rights and your legal options, so that you can make knowledgeable decisions about your case, as well as to provide diligent advocacy in pursuit of justice. Call us today at (503) 226-3844 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.