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Bike-on-bike collision questions

Posted by on January 7th, 2007 at 11:13 pm

In the past I’ve covered what to do if you get hit by a car…but what if you get hit (and seriously injured) by another cyclist? This rare scenario just came in as a Close Call report from a reader named Ben Parsons:

“I was in a bike-bike collision. The other rider didn’t see me, and didn’t stop at his stop sign riding west bound. It was dark and I had front and rear lights, he did not. I had the right away riding south bound with no stop sign at the intersection (I saw him, but figured he would at least slow down). To avoid collision I braked quickly just before colliding and flipped over my handle bars… and the other biker fell into me.

I have all his contact info – name, address, phone, DL#, and health insurance. He and I wrote out on paper what happened and he admitted to this being his fault.

I have made a claim with my auto insurance company, but waiting to hear back from the adjuster on Monday. Renters insurance covers any property damaged.

I didn’t file a police report because police told me not to since it’s not fatal or trauma. I am going to have a crap load of medical bills (torn AC joint), wage lose, etc.

Is this guy liable by any Oregon law or will I have to take it to civil court?

Thanks for sharing Ben. I would assume you treat it just as if the cyclist was any other vehicle, but I’m not sure. Maybe one of our readers will step up with some advice. Ray, Mark, what do you guys think?

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  • BL January 8, 2007 at 7:23 am

    I was hit by an irresponsible (their fault) bicyclist a few yrs ago & suffered significant injuries with medical bills approaching 5 grand & missed work. It was quite a learning experience. You did the right thing in getting the insurance info of the other cyclist. I was told by my insurance co to make a claim to against their homeowner’s policy. I ended up contacting a personal injury lawyer when the bicyclist refused to step up who said I had 2 yrs to file a claim. This would be the same think if someone hit one on theski slop etc.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis January 8, 2007 at 7:55 am

    A few observations:

    (1) Ben, you need to speak with an attorney about this specific question. It’s generally not a good idea to solicit legal advice from people who don’t practice law, not to mention illegal for them to give you such advice.

    (2) What is up with the PoPo telling people not to file police reports? This is BS.

    (3) I think I see a theme building here: Guy rides around without lights and blows through intersections. Same guy then admits fault at the scene. This guy is not very bright.

    (4) Hope you heal up good as new.

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  • Jonathon Severdia January 8, 2007 at 7:55 am

    Can’t offer any legal advice, only a comment on claiming right of way. My sincere, purposefully deluded, conviction is that everyone moving around in public is trying to kill me, and that it is my mission to inform them of this, without, well, getting myself killed in the process. To this end, if I know that I have the right of way, and some Xanax-popping plastic person is plodding along, oblivious to my sense of place, I will keep moving to claim what is mine. However, when doing so, I calculate a point of no return, and if I have not made eye contact with the individual by the time I reach that point, I take IMMEDIATE EVASIVE ACTION, no exceptions. The one who makes eye contact with me, and keeps moving, is my golden BB. Nothing I can do about that one.

    The contrapositive of this is that if I cannot make eye-contact with a motorist with whom I anticipate a conflict, such as when one is ahead and to the left of me, with a right blinker on, waving for me to go, I DO NOT GO. How am I to assess when that driver in question changes his or her mind, before it becomes too late?

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  • Jonathon Severdia January 8, 2007 at 8:01 am

    Oh, and when I was 16, I hit a car, with my car, after he ran a stop sign, and while scanning too long at another car, with full possession of right of way and no stop sign at all, turned into him. My insurance fought for me but I was ultimately judged to be at fault. The lesson for me being that even if someone steals the right of way, responsibility for an accident will still generally fall to who hit who. Just a little childhood primer that might help to explain my contempt for all people on all roads.

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  • melnat January 8, 2007 at 8:24 am

    Attornatus_Oregonensis wrote:
    “(3) I think I see a theme building here: Guy rides around without lights and blows through intersections. Same guy then admits fault at the scene. This guy is not very bright.”

    Sounds like one of the posters who complain that lights, stop-signs and common sense shouldn’t apply to cyclists. At least this one admitted fault instead of blaming “the man.”

    Yes, I ride (Over 6k miles in 2006). No, I don’t have thousands invested in carbon fiber or spandex. I’ve pulled my kids down the coast, across the state and to and from the grocery store evey day and you @#$%$ are creating ill-will and, yes, accidents.

    Begin flame war here…

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  • Jonathan Maus January 8, 2007 at 8:43 am

    melnat,

    I noticed your “begin flame war here” bit.

    Let’s please try and keep this (and all!) posts on topic and not let them devolve into personal back-and-forths.

    Flame wars are rarely good for promoting a constructive dialogue and even worse, they tend to scare people away from the site.

    Thanks for making your comments a valuable, welcoming, and useful part of this site.

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  • peejay January 8, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Actually, Melnat, I think you’re drawing the opposite conclusion than the one AO was trying to say. This guy wants us all to follow the rules and use safety equipment.

    And in general, I agree. (Disclosure: I ride fixies with “redundant” brakes, wear a helmet and use lights.)

    I do feel that we all have to come to some kind of personal compromise when it comes to stop signs, etc. I won’t stop when I have an unobstructed view of the intersection and there’s nobody around, and I won’t go when someone waves me on if I cannot be sure that someone else might be coming along. There’s nothing you can do in your defense if you blow a stop sign, even if the other person committed a violation also.

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  • John Boyd January 8, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Anyone else see Bicycles-as-transportation as a means to diminishing our rampant fault finding insurance and legal system? Am I living in a dreamland? Do we want to invite these entities to the party?

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  • melnat January 8, 2007 at 9:29 am

    OK…
    To Jonathan:
    I apologize for inviting a flame war. I check into your site everyday, have posted only once before, and even enter the raffle now and again. I am just frustrated with the fringe element that is making my 20-year passion increasingly dangerous. Growing pains? Perhaps, but if so then this is a particularly obnoxious adolescent phase.

    Pee Jay:
    I’m not criticizing AO; I too agree with him. I was just enjoying the irony. How will self-righteous, law-breaking cyclist assume moral superiority over the law-abiding cyclist that he smashed up? Perhaps the victim owned a car.

    I’ll go back to lurking now.

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  • Robert Dobbs January 8, 2007 at 9:31 am

    @John Boyd #8

    Sounds like the OP has some fairly major injuries as a result of this accident. What if the other rider wasn’t ready/able/willing to pony up the cash to reimburse him for his loss?

    I don’t think a Group Hug will cut it for the OP, unfortunately.

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  • tonyt January 8, 2007 at 9:50 am

    melnat, I’m not sure why you think coming here and cranking up the nasty meter is any answer or any way to introduce yourself to this site. And it seems somewhat hypocritical since you’re complaining about newcomers to the biking world messing up the culture that you value.

    There are people who have been reading and contributing to this site since its inception. We try hard to keep things productive.

    To quote you, “Growing pains? Perhaps, but if so then this is a particularly obnoxious adolescent phase.”

    There’s no need to lurk. Just try to be civil.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis January 8, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Interesting question re insurance and the legal system. Our adversarial legal system isn’t going anywhere. I think that’s just a simple fact.

    But my opinion is that cyclists should actually use it more to show motorists that they cannot do many of the harassing actions they do to cyclists on the road. And in the interest of full disclosure, I do not represent people in these sorts of cases, so I have no financial incentive for my opinion. I just see, every day, how effective legal process can be at correcting these sorts of abuses. I think people who drive so close to me that I can reach out and touch their vehicle should be sued for assault, people who swerve to intimidate cyclists should be sued for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, etc.

    But I think there will be much less need for insurance and the legal system generally from crashes as more people cycle, simply because you can do far less damage with a bike and also because crashes are less common with bikes. People driving cars kill tens of thousands of people every year. With the same number of cyclists, I’d be willing to bet the rate of injury and death (and property damage) would be far lower. This would mean a bike-only insurance rate would also be far lower and there would be far less need to resort to hiring those evil, icky lawyers.

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  • peejay January 8, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Expanding on AO’s comment:

    Hey, how about “Bike only” insurance? Or a non-motorized vehicle rider on every auto insurance policy? In our current legal system (oh, and think about what life would be like if we didn’t have any access to legal redress), we should be given the insurance protections afforded to car-drivers, but geared to the needs and risks of bike riding. Why should moving violation you get while riding get put on your driving record? It should, however, affect your “biking” record.

    I say this without thinking it through too much. I’m sure there are big questions, like, do we make it mandatory to have bike insurance for all riders, no matter how infrequent? Does it get simpler or more complicated when someone has no driver’s license? Do those people really want to be put in the system to such an extent? I don’t know, but I’m sure others have opinions.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis January 8, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Yes, if you’re referring to me as part of “others,” you can be sure, as a general rule, that I have an opinion.

    Perhaps it would be worthwhile to have a bicycling license akin to a driver license. The only requirement would be completing training on how to ride in traffic, proper hand signals, etc, i.e., safety. The license could be obtained by anyone from 6 years old upward.

    Then we could have a helmet law, a light law, a mandatory insurance law, and a “don’t ride down the wrong side of the street” law. Now, I used to take the libertarian ideal of “no law is necessary, and does more harm than good, if I’m not hurting anyone.” But who do you think pays to take care of the brain damaged people who came up empty on that role of the dice they took when they went out riding without a helmet? That’s right, me and you.

    In fact, all of these safety issues affect us all, especially other cyclists. Thus, we should use the law to put the cost where it belongs, on the individual taking the risk.

    Perhaps the only advantage to having the insurance industry involved: You can bet that, if a motorist harms a cyclist, the cyclist’s insurer will be aggressive in obtaining monetary redress for the damages.

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  • AC. January 8, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    How about a little self policing before we all buy insurance and get lawyers. Next time you see someone riding at night without a light, mention ‘Get Lit.’ If you are one of those folks who claim they can not afford lights or working brakes then it might be time to take the bus to the Community Cycling Center and get fixed-up affordably. Erratic and unlit riders are dangerous.

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  • John Boyd January 8, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    I’ve got to believe that in day’s of yore before there were insurance companies speculating on the outcome of our daily routine, people behaved more responsibly.

    Common sense, and decency, is increasingly handled by our assignees.

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  • Brad January 8, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Mandatory insurance! Brilliant idea. This could be the answer to all cycling problems and woes.

    Ride a fixie without a redundant brake? Make that legal under the law but the insurance companies can charge more for premiums.

    Don’t like helmets messing up your hair? No worries. You can go lidless but State Farm reminds you that doing so limits their liability for your medical claims in the event of a crash.

    Awww. Allstate is sorry that your Orbea Orca got ripped off. Were you using an insurance industry approved lock? It doesn’t matter. We are only giving you $0.40 on the dollar for replacement (depreciation is a b***h!) and your rates will be going up substantially since you choose to reside in (blank) neighborhood – a hotbed of bike theft.

    Work as a messenger? That’s a high risk profession for both you and your bike and Nationwide is going to charge you appropriately.

    So, you were arrested for riding naked, running stop signs, and having a beer in your bottle cage and the cops bent your frame during the arrest? Unfortunately, since you were committing “criminal acts” on your bike, Geico will not pay for your damages. Check your policy language as it is very clear.

    These could all happen if the powers that be see fit to require licenses, safety training, and mandatory insurance because some cyclists can’t follow the law, hurt people and property, makes fools of themselves or get all shrill about its lack of equality for bikes.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis January 8, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    So, what’s the problem? (seriously)

    The main problem I see with mandatory insurance is that it’s essentially unenforceable. To extrapolate from the motor vehicle situation, the police currently are unable to effectively prevent people from driving without a license or without insurance. Basically, you just have to mess up, get pulled over, and then get cited. Otherwise, you can pretty much drive around without insurance or a license all the time. I’m sure it would be the same with bikes, unless we get substantially more “targeted enforcement.”

    Also, I think it’s unlikely that you’d get a depreciation rule rather than a replacement cost rule (the way it currently is under personal property insurance) for bike insurance because the “useful life” calculations don’t work the same way, and neither does the market for used bikes.

    Along those same lines, any liability coverage you currently carry would not cover losses for any damage you cause while committing a crime, so that’s a current reality, not something that “could…happen” if we require mandatory insurance or anything else.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis January 8, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Just a quick correction. What I said in the last paragraph is not entirely accurate. The distinction is based on whether it is a crime of intent (more serious) vs one of strict liability, such as running a stop sign, but essentially true… And it’s not legal for a liability insurer to limit coverage for “ordinary negligence,” such as running a stop sign.

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  • Dabby January 8, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    The guy made a mistake.
    The 2 of you had an accident.
    He didn’t stop, which is wrong and a bad choice.
    You saw him not stop, and you continued anyway.
    This is a bad choice also. You had the chance to avoid the accident.
    He admitted fault. That is honorable.
    You admitted seeing him, and running into him also. This is also honorable.
    It sounds like (from your description) that you also yanked your front brake, making the flying over the handlebars possible. This is not a negative accusation , but just pointing out that this would change the injury levels….Drastically…
    I would bet money that the other biker is not a driver, so no auto insurance, which wouldn’t matter because the PIP policy that would pay your wage loss and medical is still going to be attached to your personal insurance.
    But you have insurance, medical and auto, which will pay for all medical, and all wages lost (or 70 percent of wages lost).

    Sadly, sometimes you just have to suck it up, and use your own insurance to pay for things.

    I mean, I would ask the othere biker to help pay,
    but you better hope that they are independently wealthy, and you have a year or so to settle it out.

    If you are smart, you would have already put in a PIP claim to your insurance.
    They should already be taking care of it for you

    I blew my ACL, LCL, and MCL, not even torn, but destroyed it, in my dominate leg, skateboarding a ramp demo in Wyoming in 1999. I hit a piece of gravel coming off of a ramp fast, and my leg went a few diffrent directions at once.
    I was told I would never be able to be a bike messenger again, let alone race bikes. And never skateboard, snowboard, or maybe even surf. I was going to be lucky to walk straight.
    They reccomended I don’t even waste my money on surgery. These were the words of the best Orthpedic Surgeon in Wyoming, bar none.
    Had I gone with that reccomendation, I would be living in Vancouver, walking with a cane right now.
    Had I had insurance, they would have taken the doctors advice, and denied my surgery.
    The skateboard shop who put on the demo, and had asked me to skate with the team that came in from out of town, had taken out an extra medical and other insurance policy for the event.
    The city required permits for the event, which no body got……
    I was denied coverage by the insurance provided for the event.
    The skateshop owner turned in a claim. It was denied for really no honest reason.
    The city, who was required to require permits, had insurance. They wouldn’t put in a claim.
    I was friends with the skateshop owner for many years, so I did not sue anyone, as I should have.
    His shop would have been closed down by the suit. He had been there for ever.
    I was a member of Kiwanis. I was a member of the Breakfast Optimists. I volunteered in town. Alot.
    And the city gave me no respect
    I sucked it up, and am still paying on the 15,000 it cost me.
    Not to mention the 6 months I couldn’t work

    All this talk about insurance.
    Lunatic rants, like the one by BRAD above. reading it , you can’t even tell whether he is serious or not. That is anti productive…
    Due to the fact that Portland Police will not even investigate, ticket, or show up to bicycle accidents, and don’t even force a police report to be filed (which is the law), insurance between bicycles would be a he said, she said fiasco.
    What more can I say?
    I sucked it up, paid for the surgery, and will be flying fast down a road near you…

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  • jami January 8, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    when i got partially run over, i used my own medical insurance to cover that. i ponied up for the $50 extra on the E.R. (i thought my foot was broken), intending to bill the nice guy who ran me over later. i suck at paperwork, though, and never got around to it. lucky guy.

    if you don’t have health insurance (why is this the case for anyone in such a wealthy country!) and you have to miss work, your situation is different, and i hope your car insurance covers it.

    to disagree with some of the folks here, defensive biking is important, but if you just assume your legal right of way, that never, ever makes you partially to blame. a guy running stop signs in the dark with no lights on is 100% to blame for this collision, and i imagine liability laws are the same for cyclists as for cars. if your insurance company gives you even a hint of trouble, i’d insist on filing a police report to cover your butt.

    i hope there are never enough incidents like this that we’ll be required to buy car insurance.

    was this on ladd’s addition, by any chance? some lightless jackass there shamelessly ran a sign in the dark in front of me a few months back, without even glancing my way.

    hope you’re good as new soon. in the mean time, here’s to advil!

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  • Doug January 8, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    The next time there’s a thread about a stop sign enforcement action, and posters are going on about how unfair it is for cops to give tickets to bikers blowing stop signs I recommend you refer them to this thread.

    Of course everybody knows there’s no need to slow down for stop signs, bikes don’t kill people, cars do, right guys?

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  • Anonymous January 8, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    It’s too bad how unsafe this world is. And yet no amount of funding or infrastructure will keep everyone completely safe.

    And this is why the law is important. The law’s intent is to keep people as safe as we can, in a much more cost-effective manner. Please people, please, make those stops at stop signs. Use your lights. Most importantly, use your head.

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  • Dabby January 8, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    I also question why some can call others a jackass, and I cannot use the word imbecile on this site……
    Double standard?

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  • jami January 8, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    dabby, someone who directly endangers any of us usually gets called “jackass”, “asshole”, that sort of thing, at least if they’re driving a car. perhaps it’s a matter of whom the anger is directed at?

    but i shall rescind the word and replace it with “gentleman.” his actions speak louder than my words.

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  • Dabby January 8, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Jami,

    “Someone who directly endangers any of us usually gets called “jackass”, “asshole”, that sort of thing, at least if they’re driving a car. perhaps it’s a matter of whom the anger is directed at?”

    I agree with you about that.
    I was referring to one of my comments last week being edited, after someone boiled the job of messenger down to fashion/ vanity…….
    He was basically calling my 19 year career a joke,
    and my ride of choice a fashion accessory.
    I said that was a imbecilic thought, messengers are professionals, and I got in trouble….
    That is a double standard, for the person violated and slammed everything I am about, and obviously knew nothing about what he was referring to.

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  • Pengo January 12, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    This scenario may be rare in the sense that there actually was a collision, but bike-on-bike near misses seem pretty common. I’ve had far more close calls on my bike with other cyclists who’ve blown stops than I’ve had with cars.

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