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Welcome to our legal column sponsored by Portland law firm Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost.

Get legal with Ray Thomas: How to fight for your property damage claim (Part 2)

Avatar by on March 12th, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Now what?
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

(This is the second (and final) part of our in-depth look at property damage claims by Portland lawyer Ray Thomas*. See the first part here.)

V. Gear and Rental List

Sometimes riders are discouraged because the responsible driver’s insurance company fails to promptly pay on the property damage claim. In auto v. auto cases, property damage claims get settled promptly because claims adjusters are accustomed to providing a rental car while the damaged vehicle is in the shop getting fixed. The same law applies to bicycles – the bicycle rider is entitled to a rental vehicle or bus fare, ride-share costs or other reasonable expenses for the time it takes to get the damaged bicycle fixed and serviceable again. One tip for adding speed to the property damage disposition is to have the quote at the bicycle shop include the cost of a comparable rental bicycle by the day, week, and month so that the rider can let the adjuster know how the cost of delay is going to be transferred to the insurance company.[Read more…]

Get legal with Ray Thomas: How to fight for your property damage claim (Part 1)

Avatar by on March 10th, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Now what?
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

(Publisher’s Note: We’ve split this article into two parts because Ray is an authority on this topic and he gets into some important details. Come back tomorrow for the finale. Also worth mentioning is that Ray’s firm, Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton, is a BikePortland advertiser and this column is part of our partnership. — Jonathan)

I. Introduction

Sometimes it’s tough to get fair treatment when a collision results in property damage but no personal injury. While it’s always better not to have to deal with a physical injury, there is not enough money involved from the contingent fee (1/3) on a property damage case for most lawyers to even justify opening a file, so most riders end up representing themselves. If you are going to go it alone it helps to know the lay of the land before you start. This article contains an overview of the law of property damage and some tips on how to get a fair amount for your damaged ride.

Fortunately, most bicycle collisions do not result in personal injuries. Instead, wheels get bent, helmets scraped and, if the accident is the motorist’s fault, a “property damage” claim is made against an insurance company. For bicyclists, property damage claims can be frustrating because they typically have little or no experience in legal matters and find themselves advocating for damages with experienced claims adjusters. Since the amount involved is usually small, the bicyclist ends up appealing to the claims adjuster’s sense of fairness. Most claims adjusters are not experienced riders and they are frequently shocked by the costs of bicycle repair and parts.[Read more…]

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Oregon’s ‘Safe Passing’ law explained

Avatar by on January 6th, 2014 at 3:53 pm

This is the final installment of our three-part series on Oregon’s passing laws written by our legal correspondent Ray Thomas. Read previous parts here and here.

The 2007 Oregon Legislature added an innovative law to the nation’s passing laws when Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) reformed Oregon’s bicycle passing laws with a new collection of legal concepts. The new passing law was intended to remedy several factors believed responsible for the tragic death of triathlete Jane Higdon on Territorial Road in Eugene when she and a group of riders were passed by a truck hauling logs.

Here’s the text of the law:[Read more…]

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Passing around centerline myths and riding ‘two-up’

Avatar by on December 11th, 2013 at 10:44 am

Ride to Monmouth-14

Legal? That depends.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

This is part two of our three-part series on Oregon’s passing laws written by our legal correspondent Ray Thomas. Read part one here.

​When is it OK to ride side-by-side? [Read more…]

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Bicycling and Oregon’s passing laws

Avatar by on December 2nd, 2013 at 11:50 am


The legal side of getting passed.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to part one of a three part series on Oregon’s passing laws.

Trying to decipher Oregon’s passing laws are a perfect example of how it’s often difficult to know when (and how) a particular vehicle law applies to someone riding a bicycle. Confusion about application of the rules of the road and vehicle laws sometimes results when frustrated motor vehicle operators turn to the statutes to try to put bicycle riders in their “proper” place on the roadway; but rights and responsibilities of bicycle riders on the roadway are somewhat of a legal hybrid in the Oregon statutes. Frustration of motor vehicle operators must not be allowed to diminish the bicycle operator’s legitimate right to share the traveled portion of the roadway — and even to occupy a full lane when necessary — to avoid surface hazards or other potential dangers. ​[Read more…]

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: The skinny on sidewalk riding

Avatar by on September 30th, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Weidler detour on sidewalk-6

Learn the laws about sidewalk riding.
(Photos © J Maus/BikePortland)

People that bike, walk (or roll, in the case of wheelchair and electric scooter users) share sidewalks every day, and the combination of modes can cause conflict and confusion. Oregon law, however, is very clear on right-of-way and the legal conduct required when you are bicycling on the sidewalk.

Legal clarity aside, the devil is in the details.

One problem is that bicycle operators travel much faster than walkers and require considerably greater distance to turn and stop. When bicycle traffic is constricted, such as on bridges and other multi-use paths, the inevitable congestion magnifies the impact of the small steering or control mistakes that lead to occasional collisions.[Read more…]

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: What to do if you’re in a collision

Avatar by on August 26th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Scene of right hook NE Couch and Grand-1

It might never happen to you,
but just in case…
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

What should you do if you are in a collision with a motor vehicle? First, be prepared. While the odds may be pretty good that you will never be involved in a collision there are several tips you can follow which will make any collision less of a disruption in your life. An understanding of the fundamentals of insurance, medical services, and the legal system will help you after your collision.

This article is a very basic primer on these areas.

If you are in a collision

If you do get in a collision with an automobile while riding your bicycle, make sure that you obtain complete and accurate information about the driver. It is an unfortunate fact of modern life that some people with driving and insurance problems carry false identification. Make sure that the driver shows you an official document such as a driver license or other photo ID as well as a certificate of current insurance coverage before they leave the scene of the collision. If they will not do so, then call the police.[Read more…]

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Harassment of Bicycle Riders

Avatar by on July 22nd, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Ray Thomas
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to our new legal column with Ray Thomas. Ray has been a legal resource for Portlanders (and beyond) for many years and we’ve used him as a source on countless stories. Now we plan to give him a greater presence on BikePortland. Disclaimer: Ray’s law firm Swanson Thomas Coon & Newton, is a BikePortland advertiser. As always, I welcome your feedback either in the comments or directly via email. Thanks for reading. — Jonathan

What can you do if someone harasses you while you are riding your bike? The first and best advice is to not do anything that gets you hurt, remember what you can in order to identify the perpetrators later, and call law enforcement.
[Read more…]

Bike Law 101: Take care when crossing the foot lane (a.k.a. sidewalk)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on August 2nd, 2011 at 9:09 am

Respect the foot lane.
(Photo © J. Maus)

As the weather warms and the sun becomes more reliable, sidewalks seem to blossom with all manner of human traffic; from strollers to skateboarders to joggers and everything in between. And these days, much of that traffic is distracted by their phones or music pumping in their ears.

But this is sidewalk stuff. You ride a bike on the road. What’s this got to do with bicycling? Did you know that there’s an Oregon Statute that applies to crossing a sidewalk?

If you are not aware of it and wind up on the wrong side of it, you might find yourself in a position of shared liability for involvement in a crash.[Read more…]

Bike Law 101: Harassment and how to deal with it

Avatar by on July 20th, 2011 at 11:21 am

Bike lane in action

(Photo © J. Maus)

Having commanded ownership of the road for decades, sharing it is an often unfamiliar and difficult idea for many motor vehicle operators. To now be required to share that space with people on bicycles is for some, rather difficult. Many people honestly believe bicycles don’t have the same legal rights to the roadway that cars do.

This conviction is fueled by a general unawareness and confusion about the rights and duties of operating a motor vehicle and it’s compounded by unpredictable and unsafe behavior of some bike riders. The potent mix of fear and entitlement on both sides of the windshield can sometimes ignite an explosion of anger; an explosion that often falls into one of three legal categories: harassment, menacing or assault.[Read more…]