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Man wins in court three years after police, insurance company blamed him for collision

Posted by on June 25th, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Still from KGW-TV video taken at the scene in 2012.

A Portland man who was blamed for a collision on a notorious section of North Broadway three years ago has been absolved in court.

Three years ago 33-year old Karl Zickrick was riding down North Broadway on his way to work. As he approached Wheeler he noticed a large SUV encroaching into the bike lane in front of him as it prepared to turn right. To avoid being right-hooked, Zickrick moved to the left out of the bike lane to go around the SUV. However, just as he made that move the driver of the SUV, 62-year-old Michael McLerren, slammed on his brakes and Zickrick flew into the back window. The impact shattered the window and left Zickrick with severe facial injuries and a broken jaw. (Two months after this collision, former Mayor Sam Adams decided to prohibit all right turns onto Wheeler.)

Adding insult to injury, the Portland Police Bureau blamed Zickrick for the collision. The day the crash occurred the PPB said this in an official statement (emphases mine):

The cyclist, 30-year-old Karl Thomas Zickrick, apparently swerved into the back of the Expedition, shattering the back window…

Although a traffic crash investigation was conducted, no citations will be issued as the driver of the SUV was properly yielding to the cyclist.

According to the PPB, Zickrick, the bicycle rider, was following too closely and failed to yield the right-of-way to McLerren.

The PPB’s finding led McLerren’s insurance company (Farmers Insurance) to lay 100% of the blame on Zickrick, thus refusing to pay for his damaged bike, lost wages, or medical bills.

Thankfully, Zickrick decided to fight the case in court. And he won.

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Zickrick hired Ray Thomas of Swanson, Thomas Coon & Newton to try his case. Thomas and his associate Charley Gee wrapped up the three-day trial yesterday at the Multnomah County Courthouse.

“It feels great. It’s been a weight on me for the last three years.”
— Karl Zickrick

“This case shows that insurance companies cannot treat commuters on bicycles like second class road users,” Thomas wrote to us in an email, “It is a shame that Karl had to go through a trial to receive any damages.”

Gee tells us that at the trial, lawyers for Farmers Insurance claimed Zickrick was riding too fast for conditions. That allegation came, “Despite riding under the speed limit on a dry day with very light traffic,” Gee said. They also said Zickrick was at fault because he left the bike lane.

Here’s more from Gee about how they won the case:

“Ray Thomas and I took this case in front of a conservative Multnomah County jury and they found that the SUV driver was 100% at fault for causing the collision. The driver, besides driving his large SUV onto the bicycle lane immediately in front of the bicyclist, also failed to wear the glasses he was required to wear to legally drive, failed to do a shoulder check when crossing lanes or merging, and failed to check his rear-view mirror.”

The jury awarded Zickrick $41,231 in economic damages and an additional $30,000 in non-economic damages.

It’s fitting that this case was heard just a block from yesterday’s protests and rallies. It’s a reminder, Gee says, that, “This fight is in all levels of government, city, county and state.”

In an interview today Zickrick told us he feels “great” about the ruling. “It’s been a weight on me for the last three years.” Zickrick said initially he just wanted to move on, but Thomas convinced him to take it to trial.

Beyond his injuries, Zickrick said being blamed and piled-on in the media was the hardest thing to deal with. “I suffered some bad injuries but the thing that resonated the most was all the stuff I read about it.” Zickrick also learned that not every police officer knows bike laws. He said the police investigator he spoke with while in the emergency room admitted to him that he didn’t know the laws about bike lanes and right-of-way. “He talked to me on the phone as if I should have yielded to the SUV, like a car would have to do.”

The best part of his court experience, Zickrick says, is how the case changed how jurors perceive news coverage of bicycle collisions. It turns out that a lot of the jurors had seen coverage of the incident on the news and accepted the “facts” and blame as it was presented. But after hearing the facts of the case, Zickrick says, “It totally changed their trust and perception of the media on these kinds of events. At first, a lot of them just took the bias of the newspapers and TV stations, so it was cool to hear them say that. That was exactly what I had hoped would come out of the situation.”

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81 Comments
  • Kyle June 25, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    “also failed to wear the glasses he was required to wear to legally drive”

    Wow. I wonder how many other drivers like this are out there…

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    • Chris I June 25, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      Next time you are at the DMV, watch them performing vision tests on drivers. You will be astounded.

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      • J.E. June 25, 2015 at 12:25 pm

        It’s because driving is a “right” in our society. By denying someone the legal ability to drive you are “condemning them to a solitary life trapped in their home.” You hear about this with the elderly in particular. Too bad nobody thinks that maybe people who are physically unfit to drive could, I don’t know, adapt to their handicap and still live full lives like every other disabled person in the country has somehow managed to do. You think individuals blind from birth just sit around at home their entire lives, never socializing, never having jobs or hobbies, because they’re incapable of driving?

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        • KristenT June 25, 2015 at 12:36 pm

          Driving is most emphatically not a “right”, except sarcastically. It’s a privilege, and all drivers should prove they are worthy to be granted a driving license repeatedly. Just because you got one when you were 16, 50+ years ago, doesn’t mean you are capable of having one now.

          And that whole argument about “condemning people to a solitary existence” is bunk– there’s sidewalks, public transportation, elder shuttles, taxis, Uber, Lyft…..

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          • Dan June 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm

            All the more reason we need to do more to make walking & biking safer. There are many people who can not or should not be driving, and need to get around safely using other means.

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          • Kyle June 25, 2015 at 1:40 pm

            Exactly. Being licensed to drive should entail a rigorous expert-level test repeated entirely at each time of renewal. Those who are incapable of driving at expert level can use other forms of transportations. Even if you can’t ride a bike, there’s a reason we have taxis and buses.

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          • Pete June 26, 2015 at 9:26 am

            Not long ago I happened to catch a Ford marketing person being interviewed about what’s in store for future trends and models. She was talking about a new emphasis on marketing towards ‘enabling’ the elderly. She said Ford views this as a very important market, what with baby boomers being more active while aging, and that (and I quote her) “the first person who will live to 150 has already been born.” Scary.

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      • gutterbunnybikes June 26, 2015 at 8:29 am

        lol other than 10 questions 22 years ago when I first moved here, that’s the only test I’ve had to take at DMV since.

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    • Roboto June 25, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      I work with the elderly and the answer is many!

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  • 9watts June 25, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    “The driver, besides driving his large SUV onto the bicycle lane immediately in front of the bicyclist, also failed to wear the glasses he was required to wear to legally drive, failed to do a shoulder check when crossing lanes or merging, and failed to check his rear-view mirror.”

    Wow. That’s some pretty specific findings. I’m trying to imagine how one would determine this after the fact? Other crashes come to mind where the driver (in the minds of many of us commenting on the situation here on bikeportland) were almost certainly similarly inattentive.
    I wonder what Christeen Osborn would have found if she’d sued Wanda Cortese? (For that matter, How would we know if she sued?) Congratulations to Zickrick and his team!

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    • Karl Zickrick June 25, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      The driver testified these facts in court.

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  • reader June 25, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    I remember a lot of blustery comments on OregonLive blaming the cyclist for the collision. I think this was one article where I commented that the only opinion that matters is that of the jury. Here we are now and the jury has spoken.

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  • Amy Subach June 25, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    If only we had strict liability laws here, drivers might be more cautious, and this kind of court case wouldn’t be necessary.

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    • Gary June 25, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      Maybe they’d be more cautious. But I suspect more likely is car insurance would be more expensive and drivers would still have no real consequences for their actions. There are far more direct and effective ways to change behavior.

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      • Todd Boulanger June 25, 2015 at 3:59 pm

        I am glad the motorized vehicle operator did have insurance…even though it took so long to get “reimbursed” for medical and equipment.

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        • Steve Scarich June 27, 2015 at 6:37 pm

          I saw nothing in the article indicating that he received anything. I similar judgement; never saw a dime.

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          • wsbob June 27, 2015 at 11:04 pm

            From this story:

            “…The jury awarded Zickrick $41,231 in economic damages and an additional $30,000 in non-economic damages. …”

            …which isn’t saying he’s absolutely definitely going to get the money…but with the jury having awarded it to him, he’s likely got a good chance. Much better than if he hadn’t gone to court and won.

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      • EH June 26, 2015 at 7:58 pm

        Strict liability is, in fact, a very direct and very effective way of changing driver behavior.

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  • Tony T
    Tony T June 25, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    “This case shows that insurance companies cannot treat commuters on bicycles like second class road users”

    Well, they can and do, but this case shows there are consequences. Having been on the receiving end of that second class treatment, I know you do have to push back hard. They expect actions from people who ride (“we’ll pay you, but you have to give us your damaged bike parts.”) that they would NEVER ask of people who drive.

    Congrats to Karl!

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    • 9watts June 25, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Outrageous. Can we sue them?

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      • Tony T
        Tony T June 25, 2015 at 12:19 pm

        Well, I think that’s what Karl did.

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    • J.E. June 25, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      AAA is one of the largest car lobby groups in the nation’s history.

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      • Tait June 25, 2015 at 10:56 pm

        And even they sell bicycle insurance. (Insurance similar to car insurance, but targeted to those who bicycle either primarily or exclusively. Got mailed a flyer about it recently.)

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      • paikiala June 26, 2015 at 8:30 am

        AAA is a non-profit association of auto owners and insurance company (I’m a member of Better World). The business of insurance is to minimize risk = minimize payout v. income. The model of for-profit insurance companies is even more ruthless – they are *required* to maximize profit for their shareholders.

        the wiki is interesting reading.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Automobile_Association

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    • Spiffy June 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      They expect actions from people who ride (“we’ll pay you, but you have to give us your damaged bike parts.”) that they would NEVER ask of people who drive.

      they do this with drivers… when you total your car and the insurance pays you for it they have purchased your wreck…

      you can usually buy it back from them for scrap prices… one car they gave me $1100 for after a coworker totaled it while parking… I bought it back from them for $150 and repaired it myself and drove it a few more years…

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      • Tony T
        Tony T June 25, 2015 at 1:11 pm

        I’m not talking about a totaled vehicle. I’m talking about parts. The insurance companies most definitely do NOT ask for your damaged quarter panel. Hell, they don’t even require that you have anything fixed. They get the body shop estimate and write you a check. I know because I’ve been there.

        I was side swiped when I was in my car, and hit when on my bike by a driver who ran a red light. I was most definitely treated with more respect and courtesy when I was a wronged driver.

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    • Elliot June 26, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      This is just one anecdote, but when I was doored near Williams and Killingsworth a few years ago, I only had to email Farmer’s (the parker’s insurer) a couple of pictures of my totaled bike and a receipt for a brand new one to be fully reimbursed in a couple of weeks (plus 800 or so in damages – I didn’t really hurt anything besides the bike, so that was more than generous imo). I did have to negotiate with the adjuster to get a new-new bike, but the one that got ruined was less than a few months old so it didn’t take much. It was easily the smoothest experience I’ve ever had with any insurance company.

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  • daisy June 25, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Such great news! Cheers to Karl Zickrick for fighting back and for Ray Thomas, Charley Gee, and firm for doing such a great job in court!

    Does a case like this have any impact on PPB even though it’s apparently a civil case against the insurance company? They did an investigation that uncovered something quite different.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 25, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Just got off the phone with Karl and added this to the story:

    In an interview today Zickrick told us he feels “great” about the ruling. “It’s been a weight on me for the last three years.” Zickrick said initially he just wanted to move on, but Thomas convinced him to take it to trial.

    Beyond his injuries, Zickrick said being blamed and piled-on in the media was the hardest thing to deal with. “I suffered some bad injuries but the thing that resonated the most was all the stuff I read about it.” Zickrick also learned that not every police officer knows bike laws. He said the police investigator he spoke with while in the emergency room admitted to him that he didn’t know the laws about bike lanes and right-of-way. “He talked to me on the phone as if I should have yielded to the SUV, like a car would have to do.”

    The best part of his court experience, Zickrick says, is how the case changed how jurors perceive news coverage of bicycle collisions. It turns out that a lot of the jurors had seen coverage of the incident on the news and accepted the “facts” and blame as it was presented. But after hearing the facts of the case, Zickrick says, “It totally changed their trust and perception of the media on these kinds of events. At first, a lot of them just took the bias of the newspapers and TV stations, so it was cool to hear them say that. That was exactly what I had hoped would come out of the situation.”

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    • 9watts June 25, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      “It turns out that a lot of the jurors had seen coverage of the incident on the news and accepted the ‘facts’ and blame as it was presented.”

      This is rather different from how I always thought jury selection was supposed to proceed. But interesting and somewhat reassuring to hear Karl’s views on the implications of this trial at least for them.

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      • Karl Zickrick June 25, 2015 at 1:13 pm

        Just to clarify a bit- the comments from the jury we received was via the judge who asked them for feedback on all aspects of the trial. I think she more meant that they had developed biases on these types of cases as reported in the media, though I believe she said that some had also recalled coverage on my collision as well…

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        • Karl Zickrick June 25, 2015 at 1:14 pm

          Was=were (self-policing of grammar)

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          • 9watts June 25, 2015 at 1:44 pm

            Great stuff. Thank you for persevering and for sharing your story here. In a perfect world we’d get your judge and some of the other participants in this endeavor to write this up as an object lesson in how pro-car bias operates in the legal realm, with a postscript of suggestions for how to make inroads into this problem.

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        • paikiala June 26, 2015 at 8:35 am

          If anyone here has been interviewed by the media you know the difference between the interview discussion and the presented story, particularly with TV where they are looking for sound bites and viewers. Sensationalism and fear attracts eyes that can’t look away. Half hour to hour long interviews are chopped down to 30-60 seconds for each side, presuming more than one side of a story is even presented.

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  • Tim June 25, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    I am often forced to move around drives executing right hooks. This often puts me very close to their back end. A sudden brake could but me into their back. Nice to know I may be able to win damages in front of a jury, but I will be leaving more room when maneuvering around the right hook.

    Speaking of right hooks. There is a new Audi SUV with a nice gash in their pretty black paint. No signal, not look, left the scene, but I am OK.

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    • Alan Love June 25, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      On my ride home last night, a black Audi sedan almost received a similar gash when turning right onto SW 3rd from Lincoln, in an intersection with a green bike box, with no turn signal, after just passing by me a few seconds before (light had just turned green for us). I know we’re not supposed to stereotype, but…

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      • Jason h June 25, 2015 at 1:09 pm

        On my drive home last night in my Audi wagon, I patiently followed a cyclist down Springville from Skyline, leaving them a comfortable gap all the way to the bottom, then I passed them carefully and gave a wave cause he was carving the turns awesomely. Oh wait, maybe your stereotype is SUV drivers… 🙂

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      • bendite June 25, 2015 at 3:50 pm

        Unfortunately a lot of drivers think that since they are there first, the right of way is now theirs. Thus the racing past you to make a right turn that we’ve all experienced.

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        • Tom Hardy June 25, 2015 at 5:36 pm

          Yes it happens. I outlived the driver that took me out. Karma I guess.

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  • Steve B June 25, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Ray Thomas & Charley Gee are treasures to bike and pedestrian advocacy in Portland. ❤ ❤ ❤

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  • John Lascurettes June 25, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    This is wonderful. Thanks for sticking to your moral guns, Zickrick. It benefits us all.

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  • armando June 25, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    i also wonder in these court cases is if the issue of illegal window tinting ever comes into play. i see many many cars and trucks that have window tinting that does not meet legal light transmittance requirements. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/docs/veheq/window_tint_brochure.pdf

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    • John Lascurettes June 25, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      From that doc you link to: note that SUVs can have darker windows behind the driver, which doesn’t help you as a bike rider behind one see the driver’s eyes in the rear-view mirror:

      Under Oregon law, a “Multipurpose passenger vehicle” may have darker tint than required above as long as the tint is installed behind the driver. Oregon defines a multipurpose passenger vehicle as “a motor vehicle that is designed to carry 10 or fewer persons and is constructed either on a truck chassis or with special features for occasional off-road operation.” Pickups and SUVs fall under this definition. These vehicles must be equipped with outside rearview mirrors.

      I find this part rather ridiculous:

      Why are dark tinted windows a safety concern?

      Dark tinted windows make it very difficult for law enforcement to view the inside of cars during traffic stops. Unlawful motorists may try to conceal weapons behind the tinted glass, putting police officers at grave risk.

      Uh, how about aforementioned safety concern of being able to make eye contact with another road user?

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      • Todd Boulanger June 25, 2015 at 4:02 pm

        …along with tinted coverings for license plates that can make identifying the plate number difficult after a crash or traffic incident.

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        • Tait June 25, 2015 at 11:01 pm

          Those are actually illegal, or so I’ve been told after getting pulled over for having a factory-installed clear cover over my plate.

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        • Tom Hardy June 26, 2015 at 2:00 pm

          many of the AMG series are available with LCD covers that are visually clear, but blank via the security system when the vehicle is scanned by laser of radar. They are not noticeable except by very close observation.

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      • gutterbunnybikes June 26, 2015 at 8:42 am

        Sad but true, window tint is often used by minorities to hinder racial profiling by law enforcement. I can’t really say that using it for this purpose isn’t justified.

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      • Spiffy June 26, 2015 at 9:22 am

        another way that the law encourages people to drive larger vehicles…

        can’t tint the back windows in your small sedan, you’ll have to buy an SUV to do that…

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      • Spiffy June 26, 2015 at 9:25 am

        this is also ridiculous:

        My doctor says I need to avoid the sun. Can I add dark window tint because of a medical condition?

        no! wear clothes with better coverage and apply some thick sunblock!

        don’t make it harder to see outside of your vehicle!

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  • El Biciclero June 25, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    I would find it very hard not to gloat right now if this had happened to me. This ruling is awesome and, I must admit, surprising.

    I’d love to see “driver was not wearing his glasses” mentioned at least as much as “bicyclist was not wearing a helmet” in coverage of these incidents. Wearing corrective lenses is a legal requirement if you need them; wearing a helmet is not.

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  • rachel b June 25, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    So happy for Karl Z! What a miserable three years it must’ve been. I feel I owe him a debt of gratitude. This suit matters–makes it better for the rest of us, ultimately. The response of the jury restores (just a little) my hope in humanity.

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  • Spiffy June 25, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    he got $307,769 less than he was asking for… I wonder how those negotiations went…

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    • John Lascurettes June 25, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      This wasn’t a negotiation because it’s not a settlement. This was the award from a civil jury.

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    • Karl Zickrick June 25, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      Certainly I am biased on this issue- but my two cents: in cases like this we are forced to sue the driver, who is being represented by an attorney from his auto insurance company.

      Despite the fact that the insurance company is ultimately liable to pay the damages, we are not allowed to talk about insurance at all during the trial. This unfortunately helps give the jury the impression that the driver is defending himself and potentially responsible for paying the prospective damages out of pocket. As a member of a jury, would you be likely to make a finding that would require a respectable working man to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, regardless of his amount of negligence? How would that likelihood change if you were made well aware that it was in fact his insurance company that was liable to pay these damages?

      This is one of many surprising things I learned about the court process that would affect any bicyclist taking a driver to court. Ultimately it is the jury that decides what is a fair and justified judgement, but I know that had I been in this jury the insurance “blackout” would have probably played into my judgements.

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      • Karl Zickrick June 25, 2015 at 2:41 pm

        I will also add- it is difficult (impossible?) to monetize the trauma/damage of all the pain and suffering I went through having my face cut up and nearly two years without two front teeth. Add to that the fact that I will be physically (and mentally) scarred for life. We chose the maximum figure, but ultimately the jury was responsible for deciding.

        I honestly didn’t do this for the money, and know I’ll never be the same as I was before the collision for all the money in the world.

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      • wsbob June 27, 2015 at 11:31 pm

        “…As a member of a jury, would you be likely to make a finding that would require a respectable working man to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, regardless of his amount of negligence? How would that likelihood change if you were made well aware that it was in fact his insurance company that was liable to pay these damages? …” zickrick

        Was the jury in this case informed that the person driving was a respectable working man? Without a lot of money?

        Bottom line, is knowing what compensation is necessary from the party that did wrong, to put things right as reasonably possibly with the injured party; regardless of what the expense may be, and how the person that did wrong will come up with the money.

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  • AndyC of Linnton June 25, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Thanks a ton for a follow up on this collision.
    Thank you Karl & Ray Thomas for your time and energy with this case, as said above, it helps benefit us all.
    Karl, are you riding again by any chance?

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    • Karl Zickrick June 25, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      I am still riding- I live in Los Angeles now, and the bike infrastructure (and as a result the bike culture) are completely different than Portland.
      I can’t pretend to feel as comfortable around cars as I used to, but I do still commute fairly regularly via bike depending on the destination. I have been primarily a bike commuter since I went to college in 1999, and I can’t imagine completely abandoning that part of my life out of fear- but I definitely weigh the potential consequences of it much more than ever before.

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      • Bella Bici June 26, 2015 at 2:23 am

        Thank you for your bravery, Karl! And, thanks for continuing to have bicycling be a part of your life. We all appreciate this.

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  • Ernest Ezis June 25, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    It’s great that Zickrick prevailed. But as cyclists we need to remember that when a case is tried in court, the judge, prosecutor, and jurors are usually drivers rather than cyclists and are predisposed to the driver’s perspective.

    In this case, the driver was honest about his actions and seems to have admitted what he did wrong in court that is a *RARE* event.

    Most motorists know they are in front of sympathetic ears and can lie their way out of it. Had this motorist taken that tact I believe he probably would have prevailed instead of the cyclist. I run the Close Call Database for Cyclists and after corresponding with hundreds of cyclists about their experiences, I can assure you that cyclists always seems to lose the “his word vs your word” battle. This case is the exception, not the rule.

    That’s why I ride with a videocamera — a Fly6 — and I encourage other cyclists to do the same. One day it might be you in court, and if the driver decides to lie, the video may be what “saves” you.

    Congratulations Mr. Zickrick.

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    • Tom Hardy June 25, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      In the case of my riding buddy (no names) it was handy that a sheriff was behind us last Wednesday When my buddy was left hooked. He would have erased the car with his instead of us hitting the other driver.

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    • Jeff June 25, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      Thanks Ernest for the tip. After being knocked unconscious by a hit-and-run on Broadway Tuesday at rush hour (police say there were no witnesses, I bet they looked REAL hard), I am finally going to buy one of these.

      If we cannot depend on the PPB to provide better enforcement, we have to be able to defend ourselves with this kind of tech.

      https://cycliq.com/

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  • Todd Boulanger June 25, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    I hope this case with the raised jury awareness (perhaps due to more public discussions on vision zero and vulnerable road users) becomes a watershed in how local juries evaluate the whole situation…and start at a more neutral (in the middle) point when weighing each parties’ responsibility…in my past experiences watching a jury find fault for a driver for injury to a cyclist has been a rare thing even when the driver did traffic movements/ actions that one would expect a jury to find fault with…but the juries did not just a few years ago…find these drivers at fault.

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  • Jonathan Radmacher June 25, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Nice legal outcome. Although anyone who suggests that Multnomah County juries are conservative hasn’t been around the block very often…

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    • Charley Gee June 25, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      This jury was a pretty conservative jury in regards to a bicycle case.

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    • Chris I June 26, 2015 at 6:56 am

      Remember that Multnomah County goes all the way out to North Bonneville in the Gorge, and Sauvie Island to the north. I’ve been on these juries, and it is definitely not an episode of Portlandia.

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      • Charley Gee June 26, 2015 at 9:15 am

        I think what Jonathan was alluding to was a reputation among Oregon attorneys for Multnomah County having the least conservative juries in the state. Taken as a whole that is probably true, but this particular jury in this particular case with these particular facts was a conservative jury. It is interesting the mix, though, in Multnomah County juries and the geographic location in the county of the jurors. I’ve notice that you tend to get a disproportionate amount of jurors compared to the population base from east county and deep SW. I’m not sure why that is.

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  • danny June 25, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    It takes an excellent attorney to win this sort of a case. Fortunately we have people like Ray Thomas here in town who have the knowledge and skills to secure a great verdict and educate people to boot. Congrats Karl & Ray!

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  • J_R June 26, 2015 at 8:39 am

    I hope that this case also results in PPB officers learning more about the laws as the apply to bicyclists, the operational aspects of riding a bicycle, and that PPB officers will be more critical in their evaluation of motorists’ actions and more inclined to believe what a bicyclist tells them.

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    • Pete June 26, 2015 at 9:34 am

      This is an excellent point. Truth be told, this has been a personal goal of mine for a while now (where I live; not Portland), and the reason I got my LCI last year (ironically paired up with a deputy sheriff who runs a bike patrol – I learned a lot!). What I’ve learned is that the police have their own bicycle education programs internally, tend not to use LAB’s (which has one designed for LEO), and are not terribly open to working outside of their organizations and connections (and unions). We’re chipping away, little by little, as we’ve gotten some new faces back to being involved with our BPAC again after a good liaison retired a few years ago.

      My other idea, upon seeing how rare it is for anyone – including police officers – to use turn signals where I live now, is to come up with a “role model” program to have officers stand behind using turn signals as a best practice (never mind that it’s the law). That one’s been an even harder idea to sell…

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  • Todd Hudson June 26, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Hopefully, Michael McLerren will now spend the rest of his life being very mindful of vulnerable road users.

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  • Spiffy June 26, 2015 at 9:42 am

    I’m guessing that since the statute of limitations ran out that the driver will not be cited…

    or does the court case extend those and he’s able to be cited?

    winning the money is one thing, but it’s important to get a mark on this person’s driving record as well…

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  • Chris L June 26, 2015 at 10:24 am

    What are the laws with respect to bike lanes, right of way, and yielding?
    “”police… didn’t know the laws about bike lanes and right-of-way. “He talked to me on the phone as if I should have yielded to the SUV, like a car would have to do.” “”

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    • Chris I June 26, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      If you are entering another lane of travel, you need to yield to the vehicle in that lane. In this case, I believe the SUV entered the victim’s lane without yielding, and then hit his brakes, resulting in the crash.

      If you are driving, you have to check the bike lane before you enter it to make sure you yield to anyone in that lane.

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    • Karl Zickrick June 27, 2015 at 10:06 am

      Here is the specific Oregon Statute:
      811.050 Failure to yield to rider on bicycle lane; penalty.
      (1) A person commits the offense of failure of a motor
      vehicle operator to yield to a rider on a bicycle lane if
      the person is operating a motor vehicle and the person
      does not yield the right of way to a person operating a
      bicycle, electric assisted bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, moped, motor assisted scooter or motorized wheelchair upon a bicycle lane.

      Motor vehicles must yield to bicycles in bicycle lanes.

      Taken from a great bicycle legal guide actually compiled by Ray Thomas: http://www.stc-law.com/pdf/pedal-power.pdf

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      • are June 27, 2015 at 11:44 am

        it is also true, however, ORS 811.375(1)(a), that a motorist is not to change travel lanes if the maneuver cannot be done “with reasonable safety.” so the police officer had it wrong anyway, bike lane or no.

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      • soren June 27, 2015 at 11:46 am

        Unfortunately, the courts and LE often interpret our intentionally vague bike-specific statutes in favor of the motoring majority. For example:

        http://bikeportland.org/2009/12/18/judge-woman-hit-in-unpainted-bike-lane-is-not-protected-by-law-27332

        When Portlander Rob Daray witnessed a right-hook collision on his commute home last summer he thought it was obvious who was at fault. So did the police officer who cited the operator of the motor vehicle for “failure to yield to a bicycle.” Even the woman driving the car admitted she made an abrupt right turn without checking her blind spots.

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        • wsbob June 27, 2015 at 5:49 pm

          “…our intentionally vague bike-specific statutes…” soren

          It’s most likely that Oregons’s bike specific statutes are not intentionally written to be vague in terms of what they specify and provide for in terms of rights and responsibilities of road users. If you’ve got information to the contrary, certainly do share that with people reading here.

          I think that in writing laws, lawmakers are faced with an inherent challenge to avoid inadvertent loopholes that would allow misuse of the road that laws are written to check. It makes sense for brevity to be kept in mind when writing laws so they may be kept simple and concise enough that people without years of studying law, have some chance of understanding them on their own reading of the laws.

          Attempts to have laws written to cover absolutely every conceivable type of incident would make them hopelessly long. Laws being able to work as guidelines for what’s legal and what isn’t, relies on people being able to interpret laws using good judgment.

          Laws can be brought up for amendment if enough people feel sufficiently concerned that clarification is needed.

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          • Pete June 29, 2015 at 11:42 am

            “Laws can be brought up for amendment if enough people feel sufficiently concerned that clarification is needed.”

            Yeah, like what does “visible” from 600′ away mean? 😉

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        • Dead Salmon June 29, 2015 at 11:05 am

          The judge could have just done a John Roberts trick, and said: “….although the law does not protect the cyclist since there was no bike lane, I will rule that the cyclist was protected by law anyway….” Same as Roberts did last week with the ruling on subsidies for Obamacare – Roberts acted illegally and MADE law with his ruling – he did not interpret law (which is his job). I guess the judge in the right-hook case was actually doing his job in a professional manner; instead of pulling a Roberts and ruling based on politics (or perhaps bribes).

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