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e-bike Injury Law

Electric Assist Bicycle (E-Bike) Collisions & Injuries

Electrically assisted bicycles are increasing in popularity and comprise a growing segment of the bicycle market. When a collision occurs different laws apply depending on the type of bicycle involved, mostly relating to the level of power and top attainable speed.


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Electric Bike Injury Law

As a general rule if the e-bike weighs less than 100 pounds and has a top motor-powered speed of 20 mph or less then it may be operated just like a regular bicycle, including right of way during use of bicycle lanes, sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks. ORS 814.405 says, “an electric assisted bicycle shall be considered a bicycle, rather than a motor vehicle, for purposes of the Oregon Vehicle Code, except when otherwise specifically provided by statute.” This means that e-bikes have the legal right of way in bike lanes, on sidewalks and in pedestrian crosswalks just like regular bicycles. It also means, for example, that e-bikes must be ridden as far to the right as practicable when operating at less than the normal speed of traffic per ORS 814.430. Careful attention must be paid to the equipment, operation and facts of a collision to make sure the injured e-bike user obtains full protection and recovery of damages under the law.

For more information about e-bike laws visit Oregon.gov and read our blog post.

Personal Injury

Will the Insurance Policy Limits be Enough Money to Pay My Damages?

Is there enough insurance to pay all of your damages for personal injury after a wreck? Fairness requires that you be given an honest answer about how much insurance there is to pay for your injuries. But insurance companies are not required by law to tell you how much the responsible party has in insurance coverage. And for all you know there may be a million dollars of coverage as part of a comprehensive Auto/Personal Liability Umbrella policy package, or as little as $25,000 which is the Oregon minimum bodily injury insurance limit that is required by law. But $25,000 barely pays for an overnight stay in the hospital. If you ask an insurance adjuster for the policy limit available to pay your damages the usual answer you will receive is a vague reference to whether it is a small limit policy or something like “The policy limit should be adequate to pay your damages.” Well what does this mean? If you press for an answer you are usually told that this information may only be released with the consent of the insured party. If you say to ask the insured to release the limit information in the majority of cases the information is still not released. In our office we tell the claims adjuster that when this happens we cannot advise our client to settle without knowing what sums are available to pay damages. We always succeed in forcing the insurance company to release policy limits information because we tell the insurance company to tell their insured that if the policy limit is not voluntarily disclosed we will file a lawsuit, likely for an amount above the policy limit, and force disclosure because the Oregon Rules Of Civil Procedure (ORCP 36(B)(2) requires disclosure of insurance limits available to pay the damages claimed in a filed lawsuit. We tell the insurance company that by failing to persuade the insured to voluntarily disclose the policy limits they exposed their insured to a possible “excess verdict” above the limits of their insurance. After hearing this analysis it has never been our experience that the policy limits were held back. Knowing the policy limits in advance of negotiation gives us the information we need to properly evaluate the amount of “skin in the game” this insurance company has, and to give us advance warning that insurance limits may be insufficient to cover the full damages and that we need to conduct an asset investigation of the at fault party to find out if they have the financial ability to contribute funds or assets to any settlement

Should I give a statement to an insurance company after I was hurt in a collision?

Whenever someone is hurt in a collision with an at fault insured driver there is a standard protocol automobile insurance companies follow in having a claim adjuster contact the parties and witnesses to find out what happened, usually just a few days after the collision. The purpose of the investigation is to attempt to determine fault and set the “reserves” on a personal injury case. What most folks are not told when they get one of these calls is what information from witnesses, other parties, or the police the insurance company has already collected. Further, before the call is made for an interview the insurance adjuster will usually examine the applicable legal requirements from the state traffic law. Thus, the “interview” is not an informed interview or one that is a fair and complete exchange of information. Instead it is a chance for the insurance company to subject the victim of a collision to a cross examination without the benefits of a full briefing of the applicable laws and legal issues in advance. While a person has a right to decline one of these interviews, most folks try to be cooperative and provide their side of the story.

It is our advice to follow the same applicable considerations experienced witnesses or participants in traumatic events are usually advised to obtain and consider before an interview:

Applicable Considerations Before An Interview

1. obtain a briefing on the applicable law before the interview

2. find out what other witnesses have said

3. review the police reports

4. do not give an interview when you are still in pain or upset from the wreck, and not when you are under the effects of any pain medication

5. find out whether you can delay the interview until after you have adequately prepared yourself

6. find out what happens if you decline to give an interview

In our experience after we find out about the applicable considerations we often decide that an interview of our client will not have an effect on the insurance company’s decision on liability as they have already concluded our client was mostly at fault. In that instance the interview only gives the insurance company another point of attack in a case they are not intending to settle any way. Other times, after reviewing the applicable considerations, we decide that our client can contribute to a favorable liability determination and we help to set up the interview. Even where we see a likely valid situation for an interview we usually agree to participate only on the condition that the interview not be recorded. Most insurance company interviewers do not tell the witness that the interview does not have to be recorded. Instead the insurance company interviewer can take notes and use those notes to summarize what the party says in a report to the company. This way the interview recording will not be later used against the witness in court.

And the interview process exists for the benefit of the insurance companies, not the injured parties. If it were otherwise then the insurance would not refuse to share their interviews of other witnesses and other parties with the person making an insurance claim. Our requests for witness interviews of others are almost always met with a “Work Product” based refusal to share. We are able to obtain any interviews of our own clients, but not other witnesses or other parties, even when we are not able to have access to the folks the insurance company has already interviewed.

The one exception is when the collision victim’s own insurance company conducts interviews of the injured person. Not only will the injured person’s company release their interview, but usually the insurance company for the hurt person will also release the interviews they conducted of others.

At the very least every person should have the benefit of a briefing of their rights and the applicable facts and laws before an insurance company interview.


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e-bike Injury Law

Representative Cases

Mesothelioma Victim v. Marine Pump Manufacturer 2016

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STCN appellate lawyer Jim Coon represented the family of a mesothelioma victim who had been exposed to asbestos fibers in his work with marine pumps on Navy ships during and after World War II. The pump manufacturer argued that it…
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Parents of Drowned Child v. Public Pool Operators 2016

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STCN trial lawyer Ray Thomas brought a case against the operators of a public swimming pool for permanent brain damage suffered by a six year-old girl due to inattentive life guards and insufficient safety procedures. The current operator and others…
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Cyclist v. Driver and Passenger Car Doors 2012

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When the driver and passenger of an SUV parked on a busy NE Portland neighborhood bikeway and suddenly swung open their vehicle doors, they collided with a 50-year-old cyclist and small business owner who was out on a weekend leisure…
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Thanks & Praise

Testimonials

  • I am so glad
    that a member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance referred me to Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton. I felt so much relief after the first time I met Cynthia and Kristin. Thank you.
    Emily, Portland
  • Cynthia,
    thank you so much for handling my case in an efficient and extremely competent manner. It was a real pleasure working with you all.
    Lauren, Portland
  • Cynthia Newton helped me
    get proper medical attention when I needed it in the form I needed, chiro/massage. You helped me deal with the complexity of bills and insurance companies. I could have never gotten through this without the three of you! I am very thankful and very much in awe that the fee came to so little, and that I will be able to either fix or repair my bicycle.

    Thank you!
    Shen, Seattle, WA
  • Cynthia and Amanda
    were a critical part of putting my life back together. I don’t know what I would have done without their help.
    Kelly P., Portland, OR
  • As I’m Japanese
    I’ve never thought of doing this and having a favorable result. It is because of your great support. Thank you very much indeed. To Amanda-san, I always appreciate your prompt reply and support. I am working at the law firm, but I have never done such things, so I wanted to clarify several things. Always, always, always Amanda-san replied me back promptly and helped me out. Thank you indeed. Hope it won’t happen again like this, but I will definitely ask you guys to help me out again.
    Miho, Tokyo, Japan
  • I love the people at this firm.
    I felt like they had known me forever by the way I was taken care of.
    Emily R., Portland, OR
  • In an instant my life changed.
    My name is Jeff; an electrician by trade. What I thought to be just another ordinary work day changed in a split second. While working near the top portion of my eight foot ladder, a careless forklift driver backed through my ladder. The impact threw me onto the roof portion of the fork lift, then onto the cement floor dislocating my shoulder. While at the hospital, x-rays showed the seriousness of my injuries. It would take shoulder surgery along with extensive therapy to discover a partial permanent injury to my shoulder, one that would take my career as an electrician away. At fifty-five years old I was permanently injured, scared, frustrated, and out of work. What now? What was I going to do?

    By the grace of God my path crossed with Cynthia Newton an attorney with Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton, Attorneys at Law. Cynthia became my voice in a very difficult and vulnerable time in my life. Cynthia’s knowledge of the law along with her calm demeanor helped me and my wife through the frustration and mental fatigue of a lawsuit such as this. The attorneys that helped me with this accident were the reason I was able to win a fair settlement. Chris Frost handled the Worker’s Compensation portion of this lawsuit. Chris has knowledge of law that would impress anyone; her attention to detail while keeping me up to date with any changes made a difference with this case and made both my wife and I feel as comfortable as anyone can feel that is going through something like this. Kristin Kidd and Rosemary Anderson are two of the best paralegals a law office could have. Both helped me with questions and details again giving me peace of mind. Ray Thomas’s legal savvy and presence was an enormous influence with settling this case. My wife and I were very happy with the agreed settlement that we were able to receive. We would have never been able to receive what we did without the help from this fabulous legal team. When a person chooses the law firm of Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton they receive a complete team of professionals that are dedicated to their clients. I hope I never need to hire another attorney, but if the need should arise, I will use Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton again simply because my belief is that they are the best of the best.
    Jeff, Sherwood
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