In 2016 I wrote a free book to explain, in plain language, Oregon’s bicycle laws. The book includes a quick reference guide to the laws, the actual language of the laws, frequently asked questions about how insurance works, and articles on what to do if you are involved in a collision or have your bike stolen.
Oregon bicycle attorney and advocate
I built my reputation representing injured bicycle riders. For me, making the roads safer for bicyclists through education, advocacy, and litigation, is my life's work. It is the reason I went to law school and it is the reason I wake up every day and practice law as a personal injury attorney and a bicycle attorney. I love riding my bicycle and I ride just about every day rain or shine. I live a life within Oregon's bicycle culture. I enjoy making bicycle riding fun and safe through my prior work as the president of Umbrella and volunteer work with the state's advocacy organizations. And I really love educating bicyclists (and non-bicyclists) about Oregon's laws, so if you have a question about what the law says or doesn't say please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (503)278-5389.
Frequently Asked Questions - Oregon Bicycle Insurance Laws
Q. I have an Oregon automobile insurance policy. What coverage do I have if I am hit on my bike?
A. In Oregon, every automobile insurance policy has four areas of coverage: Liability, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Property Damage, and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM).
Q. What is PIP?
A. PIP (Personal Injury Protection) covers medical expenses and lost wages if you are injured in a collision. In Oregon, the minimum amount of coverage is $15,000. PIP is (usually) “first party” coverage which means your automobile insurance covers your medical bills and wage loss despite the collision being the fault of another road user.
Q. I ride a bicycle as well as drive, do I need to buy an additional insurance policy that covers me when I ride?
A. It depends. In Oregon, your automobile insurance will cover you in some ways when you are walking or riding your bicycle. If you are injured in a collision with a motor vehicle, your PIP insurance will pay your medical bills. However, if you are injured in an accident that does not involve a motor vehicle, like you hit a defective street drain, PIP will not cover you, but your health insurance would. If you hit and injure a pedestrian or another bicyclist while you are riding your bicycle, your automobile liability insurance will not apply to cover you in a liability claim. There are other insurance options available to cover your liability, such as homeowners/renters insurance or personal liability umbrella policies.
Q. I usually walk or ride my bicycle for transportation. I don’t own a car. Can I get insurance?
A. Yes, so long as you’re a licensed driver. Some national insurers offer insurance for drivers who don’t own their own cars. These policies usually need to be purchased through a broker or local agent, though. This coverage is very affordable and offers the same protection as the coverage purchased when a person owns an automobile.
Q. Do I still need a big policy if I mostly walk or ride my bicycle?
A. Yes. It is just as important (if not more so) to have adequate insurance when you are riding your bicycle. In Oregon, the amount of your UM/UIM insurance is the same as your liability insurance. Therefore higher limits mean more protection for you as well as any other road user you may injure.
Q. Will my automobile policy cover my bicycle if it is stolen?
A. No. However, your homeowners/renters insurance policy might cover the loss.
Q. I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle and had to go to the hospital, how do I pay the bills? I have automobile insurance and health insurance.
A. Since you have your own automobile insurance, your PIP coverage will become the “primary” insurer to pay the bills. Any bills not covered by your automobile insurance will be paid by your health insurance. Additionally, any bill not paid by either of your insurers, like co-pays, can be submitted to the motor vehicle driver’s PIP insurer. Your insurers will then seek repayment from the negligent driver’s insurer in a process called subrogation.
Q. I was hit by a car by a car while I was riding my bicycle. I had to go to the hospital. How do I pay the bills? I don’t have automobile insurance or health insurance.
A. In Oregon, pedestrians (and that includes bicycle riders in this context), can access the PIP coverage of the motor vehicle that hit them, regardless of whose fault the collision was. As a result, if you are struck and injured by a motor vehicle while walking, your medical bills and wage loss will be covered as if you had automobile insurance yourself.
Q. I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle and now I can’t work. How do I recover my lost wages?
A. Your lost wages will be paid by PIP coverage, but not 100%. First, you have to be unable to work for two weeks. Even then you will receive only 70% of your gross pay up to $3,000 a month. The other portions of wage loss not covered will need to be recovered from the driver’s insurance company through a settlement or trial.
Q. I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle and my bicycle was damaged. How do I get it repaired?
A. Your property damage is covered under the automobile insurance policy of the car that hit you. Once you have a claim open with the insurer, take your damaged bicycle to a bicycle shop for a damage estimate. The damage estimate will need to contain the cost of repairing the bicycle. If the bicycle is a total loss the shop should provide you with the value of the bicycle, as a used bicycle with the components it had, at the moment before it was hit and its value now.
Q. I was hit by a car while walking and I don’t think I was hurt. Should I still file a claim with the driver’s insurance company?
A. Yes. First, sometimes injuries can stay “hidden” for several months. Second, by reporting a driver that hit you to their insurer, you are ensuring some repercussion (higher insurance rates) for their negligent driving.
Q. I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle and the driver did not have insurance. What can I do? I have automobile insurance.
A. Your insurance policy contains UM/UIM coverage which will cover you if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured (damages exceed their policy) driver. Your insurer essentially steps into the shoes of the negligent driver’s insurance (if they had any).
Q. I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle and the driver did not have insurance. What can I do? I do not have automobile insurance.
A. First, file a police report. If you have medical insurance, that coverage will pay your medical bills. If you do not have medical insurance then you may need to find a treating doctor that will accept payments or treat you for a reduced charge. If the uninsured driver struck you while engaged in a crime (assault, driving under the influence) then you may be able to obtain compensation from the Oregon Crime Victim’s Fund
WHY SHOULD I HIRE AN OREGON BICYCLE LAWYER
TO REPRESENT ME IN MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE?
Bicyclists are still a rare breed in the United States. Only a minority of the population rides a bicycle even once during the year. People who ride bikes for transportation every day, like I do, are in the single digits as a percentage of the population.
As a result, most personal injury attorneys follow the same trend. The difference between a true bike lawyer and a personal injury lawyer who sometimes represents bicyclists is their knowledge base. For a lot of personal injury lawyer, if you go their office and bemoan the loss of your precious 1977 Nishiki International they stare at you with a blank expression because to them, it was just an old bike, probably not worth much. Certainly not worth as much as most cars, which is true, but it is a great loss to the person who rode that bike every day, who depended on it to get from point A to point B.
What those attorneys don't understand are things like determining speed based on gear ratios or what a skid stop is and how it happens. They don't understand why we look confused when a motorist estimates a bicyclist's speed at 35 miles per hour and they were riding an old upright. They don't understand what it is like to ride a bicycle in an urban center, mixed with cars, trucks, buses, and pedestrians, in the rain and why we all choose to do that to ourselves in the mornings over and over again. They don't understand how fast things can go from A-OK on a bike to a catastrophe in a split second because a car driver failed to check if their turn was clear.
Bicyclists have a unique perspective on the world and they need an attorney who shares that perspective. One who understands what it is like to not be able to ride a bike for a month and to be left without the free, healthy, urban-friendly transportation we depend on. Others will say "ride the bus."
I ride my bicycle every day. I ride my bicycle in the sun, in the rain, in the snow, or in the fog. I live a bicycle way of life and I am proud to have built my reputation representing and educating others who share my passion and enjoy the same kind of lifestyle I do.
811 SW Naito Pkwy., Ste. 420
Portland, OR 97204
101 SW Madison St., PO Box 1567
Portland, OR 97207