Interviewer: On your website, you mentioned pedestrian knock-down accidents. How is that type of accident caused?
Pedestrian Accidents Are Attributed to Inattentive Drivers
Daniel Hoarfrost: It’s always seems to boil down to a measure of inattention from a driver when they strike a pedestrian. In most places in Oregon, the pedestrians are given right-of-way in intersections. But drivers who aren’t looking out sometimes don’t see pedestrians and that’s when a collision between a car and a pedestrian occurs. Usually the ones that I have seen are when drivers is turning, either at an intersection or into a driveway or coming out of a driveway, and just simply not paying close enough attention.
There Are a Growing Number of Accidents Involving Bicyclists Due to the Increased Popularity of This Environmentally Friendly Mode of Transportation
Interviewer: Do you see many pedestrian accidents involving a person being hit by a bicyclist?
Daniel Hoarfrost: It can happen, although the situation you see more frequently is that a car is running into a bicyclist.
Interviewer: I’m seeing more of the college students going back to using bicycles around town. I was wondering if Oregon has an increasing number of people using bicycles.
Daniel Hoarfrost: Yes and it’s not just the college students. In this day and age, of course, with the emphasis on environmental concerns, especially in Oregon and in Portland, there’s an emphasis on bicycling. Many people now use bikes for their normal mode of transportation.
Inattentive Drivers Are Also Attributed to Accidents Involving Bicyclists
There are similar concerns as the ones between a vehicle and a pedestrian, because if you’re not paying close enough attention, then you may not see a bicyclist, and then turn into them. And those can result in a lot of serious injuries.
Daniel Hoarfrost: Even with helmets and other safety equipment, bicyclists are pretty exposed. It doesn’t take much to result in serious injuries if there’s a collision.
Lanes Reserved for Bicycle Traffic in Oregon and Other Parts of the Country Has Caused Confusion among Some Drivers; Violations Can Result in Citations for the Drivers
Interviewer: Are there any special bicycle lanes in Oregon? Are the cases handled any differently?
Daniel Hoarfrost: Well there are special lanes in certain circumstances, and in general, the bicyclists are subject to the same traffic rules as cars. But frequently, especially in the downtown areas, there are special lanes that have been put into place at the intersections for turning. Some drivers’ actions can result in a failure to yield situation.
Typically, when a collision occurs a vehicle is turning. The collision occurs because they don’t necessarily see the bicyclist on their side. And that’s where the lane violations and failure to yield claims come in to play.
The Bicyclists Has the Same Duty of Reasonable Care as Does the Driver
Interviewer: It is very difficult to see a bicyclist. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been driving and they just zoom in right in front of me.
Comparative or Contributory Negligence
Daniel Hoarfrost: The other thing is, you have to remember is, of course, the bicyclist has the duty of reasonable care as well. So frequently, you have to contend with what’s known as “Comparative” or “Contributory Negligence.”
In other words, they’re at fault as well. And that can block your claim if a jury or fact finder determines that the comparative negligence was fifty-one percent or more.
Were You Also at Fault for an Accident? In Oregon, Your Claim Is Reduced by the Degree of Negligence If Your Case is influenced by Comparative Negligence
In Oregon, a comparative negligence situation is when your claim is reduced by the degree of negligence. If the claiming party is found to be fifty-one percent at fault, then they lose their right to recover completely.
Interviewer: What are some factors that determine that?
A Failure of Due Care Resulting in an Injury
Daniel Hoarfrost: The factors are the same as in any negligence situation. A question of, is there failure of due care resulting in injury? Just put it in terms of an auto collision.
So the one driver is making a claim against the other driver, the driver that’s defending claims has to determine to what degree is the fault the two parties contributed to the overall incident. So that’s how they express it in a percentage. It’s just a matter of comparing and contrasting, and concluding who was more at fault, or whether they were equally at fault.
In a Trial, the Jury Is Instructed to Assign Damages Regardless of the Percentage of Fault Lies with the Injured Party
Where it gets a little dicey is that they’re instructed to go ahead and assign damages regardless of the percentages of fault they have found. And then the judge makes the calculation for whatever reductions of damages are appropriate.
And the concern that the plaintiff side has is it is human nature to reduce the amount of damage, especially when you feel like the claiming party has contributed to the accident. Even though they’re instructed not to take that into account, those kinds of claims can be difficult.