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Two by two: Reflections on a crash that hits close to home

Posted by on April 8th, 2016 at 11:45 am

lisagofund2

Lisa George’s recovery fund has
raised over $3,300 in just one day.

This essay is by Aleta Wright

Two women, two bikes, both 52 years of age. Two months separate our two bicycling collisions. Both of us were hit while riding lawfully in a clearly marked bike lane. We both have been smashed by the left hook. We both suffer from broken bones and recoveries of an unknown duration well into the future.

Lisa George, the woman who was hit while biking on N Williams Avenue last week, could have been me.

And the similarities don’t end there. Turns out we both have the same employer, Portland Community College. Technically, after my bike collision and two-night hospitalization it became clear that I would need to retire from PCC so that I could cash out my PERS retirement. I need to have some form of income as I complete my rounds of physical and occupational therapy. Two months out my broken bone is surely healed. I consider myself lucky to have escaped being hit, flipped and splayed across the intersection on Dartmouth in Tigard with just a broken scapula. I am blessed to be alive, ambulatory and on the way to healing and recovery.

The uninsured driver who hit me got a $200 traffic ticket.

My colleague, Lisa George, who teaches a sociology course on Thursday evenings at the Cascade campus of PCC is on the other end of the injury spectrum. She was most likely hit while commuting to work for her 6 o’clock class. Lisa does other work on campus that is vital to instructors as the co-coordinator of the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC).

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I can see myself in her saddle. We have much in common. We love our bikes. We both have pedaled the same streets to work.

aletapic

This is me at Deerfield Beach on the Atlantic coast of Florida in December of last year.
That’s my trusty ’94 cromoly Giant. Due to my injuries I must now ride a recumbent trike.

As the dust begins to settle and the shock wears off there will be financial facts that will emerge. It is a well-kept secret that enrollment at PCC continues to plummet. The result is that for the adjuncts teaching assignments dwindle and making ends meet becomes increasingly challenging. As adjuncts work less hours their insurance coverage may lapse because the threshold for worked hours is not met. This happened to me and my college sponsored insurance plan terminated in November last year. It takes just one major catastrophic event to zap any cash reserves or banked sick leave. Something like short or long term disability is not available to part-time employees/adjuncts.

Lisa George has been the victim of a reckless driver who has severely impacted her life, career, and health for an unknown time into the future. Citizens, students and the larger PCC community, as well as the biking community, must rally behind her for all her needs, financial, emotional, spiritual, practical.

The reality is that her family will need financial support. Please visit the GoFundMe site established by her daughter to help defray the substantial costs that the family now faces in the midst of this life changing event. Give generously, give as if it were your mom, sister, wife, best friend or favorite college professor who really needs your help right here, right now.

— Aleta Wright

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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MaxD
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MaxD

I am SHOCKED at the lack of consequences for uninsured driving. I am saddened to hear your story, but thanks for sharing. Good luck on your recovery

Tim
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Tim

Can anyone help with advice about what can be done to seize assets and garnish wages. Not having insurance does not get you off the hook for paying. Being poor and uninsured shouldn’t either.

Paul
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Paul

I got hit when I lived in California so I am not sure it would apply in Oregon. I carry uninsured motorist protection under my car insurance. Since the driver who hit me was uninsured I sued myself and my insurance company went after the driver to recover their payout.

Byron Palmer
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Byron Palmer

We let people off too lightly for driving with a no valid license and without insurance. It seems most appropriate that we tighten the laws so that if you have an accident without insurance you do not get to drive again until you have paid off all expenses related to the accident. And if you drive without a license you should lose the vehicle you are driving. If it is a friends then then the friend would either have to lose the vehicle for failing to ensure the driver had a valid license or report the vehicle as stolen and let the driver go to jail for theft.

Driving is not a right but a privilege. When you abuse that privilege is should be withheld.

jeff
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jeff

please find a lawyer and sue the driver for whatever you can get.

B. Carfree
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B. Carfree

We’re almost half done with the second decade of the twenty-first century, but our regulatory structure for cars is stuck in the 1960s. How hard would it be to require insurance companies to report all cars insured, with mandatory updates within twenty-four hours of any policy that lapses? Police should have access to this data base while on the road, preferably through automated licence plate reading, and any vehicle without current insurance should be immediately pulled off the road.

Clearly there will need to be additional penalties for displaying stolen license plates and there will inevitably be some criminals who sneak through the cracks, but our epidemic of uninsured motorists injuring and killing people, often with the added insult and injury of fleeing the scene, obviously needs some stronger medicine than we have been applying.

still riding after all that
Guest
still riding after all that

“Well the very first thing is you need a judgment, so you need to sue and prevail. Then the “fun” of trying to collect begins. As you can imagine, none of it is a fast process”

In order to sue, you have to find a lawyer willing to represent you. Try finding a lawyer who will take your case if the person who harmed you has no insurance policy to chase. Good luck with that.

dgcollum
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dgcollum

The costs to sue in civil court are far more than an add-on rider to your auto insurance that covers injuries, disability and bike damage/replacement. Just the time it takes to get to court dates is a large commitment. To my knowledge, stand-alone bicycle injury insurance does not exist at this time. There is a great article about insurance in Oregon here: http://www.stc-law.com/bikeaccidentinsurance.html.

If there are significant injuries or damage to the bike, call the police first then gather information from the person who caused the crash – if you are physically able. Next, call your insurance carrier and let them know what’s going on. ALWAYS file an Oregon accident report if the damages are over $1,500.00. Then, if things look bleak, get a bicycle lawyer and NEVER talk to the “opponent’s” insurance carrier. Either let your insurance company or the lawyer do the talking and negotiating.

Two weeks ago I got clipped by a “creeper” – driver was attempting to turn left onto Murray from NW Millcreek Road (a bad intersection) and moved right in front of me leaving nowhere to go. Driver took out my crank, right platform peddle, busted a rear spoke and slightly bent the front derailleur. If I’d had the crank brothers clipless on, my right foot would have been toast, ’cause the platform peddle shielded my foot. And my lunch got crushed in my pannier. All else was okay. No injuries to me. Not sure how he missed me. I was wearing bright yellow jacket and helmet, one flashing headlight and one Niterider Lumina 550 headlight on high beam.

Oh yeah . . . that peddle did quite a bit of damage to his bumper.

Driver paid for the repairs and I’m back on the road. Hallelujah!!!

eddie
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eddie

“Not sure how he missed me. I was wearing bright yellow jacket and helmet, one flashing headlight and one Niterider Lumina 550 headlight on high beam.”

Honestly, I don’t think cars notice the bright clothing and lights all that much. I don’t think the day glo is as valid a means of “protection” as people seem to believe.

Motorists sometimes don’t look where they’re turning because everything they do with a vehicle is routine and often done reflexively. Sometimes they just hit people and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

Me, I wear earth tones and black only, my lights are minimal, and I’ve only once been hit by a car, back in 1999. The guy was looking the other way.

bendite
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bendite

I think it starts with the driver’s way of thinking regarding driving. If the driver thinks roads are for cars, and cars are the priority, rather than having the attitude that the road is for a wide range of users, the brain gives visual priority to cars. The brain is telling itself to ‘look for cars’, and therefore cyclists are less likely to register where the brain perceives objects. So you get the driver saying “I didn’t see him/her”.

PC
Guest
PC

As for mandatory sentencing, something that has generated a lot of controversy in recent years. Imagine a person entered a shopping mall/supermarket with a..1) length of iron pipe 2) battery powered drill 3) handgun. Now imagine that person does bodily harm to another person in that setting, it doesnt matter if the operator of the “tool” claims…”I didnt see him” that person is guilty of harming someone with a potentially deadly weapon and they are most certainly going to jail.

But out on our streets its perfectly ok to run someone down and claim..”I didnt see him officer” and shortly thereafter the driver of the offending auto is allowed to simply drive away. How can anyone think this is right? Total Insanity. If auto drivers knew that hitting a pedestrian or cyclist would require a minimum jail sentence and appropriate fines..starting at..?.. $5K, they would drive far more responsibly insured or not.