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Personal Injury Lawyer
Vancouver & Southwest Washington

Bicycle Accident FAQ

If you've been injured by a negligent driver, call attorney Colin Scott

A bicycle accident in Vancouver, WA can change your life in an instant. Suddenly, you may be injured and facing medical expenses you're not sure you can afford. If the negligence of a driver caused your collision, the law may entitle you to compensation. The Scott Law Firm, PLLC can fight for your rights and help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Bicycle accidents can be complicated. The at-fault driver may deny responsibility and insurance companies sometimes believe them, hoping to pay as little as possible. Our firm is dedicated to helping victims get the compensation they need to get their lives back on track. Working together with our clients, our goal is to achieve the best possible outcome in every case.

Frequently asked questions about bicycle accidents in Washington

If you've been hurt in a bicycle accident, you probably have a lot of questions. A bicycle accident attorney can help you find the answers. Contact us online or call 360-718-3640 to schedule a free consultation. Attorney Colin Scott can answer your questions and go over your legal options to help you decide what to do next.

Are bicycles treated the same as motor vehicles in Washington?

Bicyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities as motorists in Washington. Cyclists who violate traffic laws may be cited and given a ticket.

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Do bicyclists have to wear a helmet in Washington?

There is currently no helmet law for bicyclists in Washington. However, all military installations require bicyclists to wear a helmet. Many cities and counties also require helmet use with bicycles, including Vancouver.

Additionally, the law states that cyclists must use a white headlight (visible from at least 500 feet ahead) and a rear reflector or red taillight (visible up to 300 feet from behind).

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Which lane should bicyclists use when riding in traffic?

According to Washington State Legislature, bicyclists may ride on the path, bike lane, shoulder, or traffic lane—whichever is safest under the circumstances. If you are moving slower than the flow of traffic, you should ride as far right as is safe except when: preparing to turn, passing another vehicle, or when riding on a one-way road with multiple lanes. You may also occupy the middle lane when traveling with the flow of traffic, when the lane is too narrow for a car to share the lane, and when road conditions (such as loose gravel, grates, ice, parked cars, etc.) prevent safely riding to the far right. Bicyclists are also allowed to ride side by side, but no more than two may ride abreast.

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Can bicyclists ride on public highways in Washington?

Generally yes, but some designated sections of state highways may be closed to bicycles due to safety concerns. Local counties and municipalities may also adopt ordinances banning cycling on specific roads or sidewalks within business districts.

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What are some general bicycle safety tips?

Below are some bicycle safety tips provided by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT):

  • Obey traffic signs and signals.
  • Never ride against traffic.
  • Follow lane markings.
  • Don’t pass on the right.
  • Keep both hands ready to brake.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Never wear headphones/earbuds.
  • Use a white front light and red rear light or reflector at night (required by law).
  • Use hand signals.
  • A mirror will help you see traffic approaching from behind.
  • Wear bright/reflective clothing.
  • Make eye contact with drivers.
  • Watch out for road hazards such as potholes, grates, ice, gravel, etc.
  • Keep your bike well maintained.

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How can an attorney help me?

It pays to have an attorney on your side in a bicycle accident case. Insurance companies know this and may offer you a quick cash settlement. They may even try to discourage you from hiring a lawyer.

An experienced attorney - someone whose practice is dedicated to representing injury victims - can investigate and look for evidence that will prove you were the victim of someone else's carelessness.

Hiring an experienced attorney also helps ensure that you are seeking any and all compensation that is potentially available to you under the law. Here at The Scott Law Firm, PLLC, one hundred percent of our practice is dedicated to helping injury victims. Attorney Colin Scott focuses his efforts on obtaining the best possible outcome in every case.

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What if I was partially at fault for the accident?

In the State of Washington, if you are determined to be comparatively at fault for causing the accident, you can still attempt to recover financial compensation, but the amount will be reduced by the amount of responsibility you share. For example, a jury may award a bicyclist $100,000 in a bicycle accident case. But if the bicyclist was found to be 10% responsible, the award would be reduced to $90,000.

Insurance companies know this. That's why they often try to blame victims. It's a way for them to pay less money. Our firm is not persuaded by insurance companies that try to bully people into accepting low-ball offers. We work together with our clients to build strong cases that prove a driver's negligence was responsible for the crash that left you hurt.

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How can I recover financial compensation for my bicycle accident?

An experienced attorney can help you take legal action against the negligent party that caused your accident. If the party denies responsibility, you have the burden of proving someone else was responsible. You must also prove that your claimed injuries are related to the accident and the medical treatment you received was reasonable.

Many times, we can negotiate a settlement with the insurance company that meets your needs. But sometimes, the insurance company won't agree to a fair settlement. In those cases, you may be left with no choice but to take your case to trial and convince a judge or jury that you deserve compensation.

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What types of damages can I be compensated for?

It depends on the facts in your bicycle accident case.

Some damages are said to be "economic" in nature. These are tangible losses with a specific value. They include things like medical bills and lost wages related to the accident.

Other damages are said to be "non-economic" damages. These are intangible losses for which there is no specific dollar amount (except as determined by a judge or jury at trial). Examples include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of activities you can no longer engage in.

An experienced attorney can help determine the total damages you have suffered and help you recover appropriate compensation.

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What if the driver who hit me denies doing anything wrong?

This happens often in bicycle accidents. A driver denies negligent behavior that caused the crash. The drive may even try to pin the blame on you. Insurance companies are only too happy to believe their insured, because it gives them a reason to pay you less money. And now you are left having to prove that the driver was negligent.

Attorney Colin Scott can investigate to get the facts. He can obtain and review documentation that may be helpful to supporting your claim, such as accident reports, photographs of the scene, witness statements, and medical records. If needed, he may consult with accident reconstruction experts who can help recreate what happened based on known facts. Colin then uses this information to build a case that can prove your injuries were caused by a negligent driver.

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Should I answer the insurance company's questions?

It is generally not in your best interest to speak with the at-fault driver's insurance company. They may attempt to contact you shortly after your bicycle accident. They may tell you they're just looking for more information and want to ask you a few questions. If you agree, they will likely ask to record the statement. This request may sound perfectly reasonable. But insurance companies aren't interested in getting your side of the story. What they're really doing is trying to get you to say something they can use against you. They're looking for an excuse to pay you less. Hiring an experienced attorney to represent you can prevent this from occurring.

If you are contacted by the at-fault driver's insurance company, politely decline to answer any questions. Tell them you need to speak to your attorney first. Then contact the Scott Law Firm, PLLC right away. We offer a free consultation.

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Frequently asked questions about bicycle accidents in Oregon

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about riding a bicycle in Oregon. You may also want to view a list of statutes pertaining to bicyclists in Oregon.


Do bicyclists have to wear a helmet in Oregon?

According to the law, all bicycle riders under 16 years of age must wear an approved bicycle helmet when riding on a public way. Failure to wear protective headgear may result in a fine of $25.

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Are bicycles and vehicles treated as the same in Oregon?

Bicyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities as motorists in Oregon, though cyclists are prohibited from riding on certain freeways due to safety concerns. Cyclists are required to use hand signals unless both hands are needed to safely control or operate the bicycle. Cyclists are also required to yield the right of way to pedestrians on sidewalks.

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Are bike lights required in Oregon?

In Oregon, bike lights are required by law if riding when visibility is limited. At a minimum, you must have a white light visible at least 500 feet to the front, and a red light or reflector visible at least 600 feet to the rear. Using a helmet mounted light will comply with Oregon’s bicycle equipment requirements provided your light is white, facing forward, and visible for a distance of at least 500 feet, though you must still have a rear-facing red reflector or red light that is visible from a minimum distance of 600 feet from all angles.

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What are the “Share the Road” Oregon license plates I keep seeing?

“Share the Road” license plates are available from the Oregon DMV and cost $10 for a two-year registration period. In addition to increasing bicycle awareness on public roads, proceeds from the sale of license plates benefit the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Cycle Oregon.

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What are some bicycle safety tips?

Many of the same bicycle safety tips apply equally in both Oregon and Washington. Below are safety tips provided by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), such as:

  • Maintain control of your bicycle at all times.
  • Brakes must be powerful enough to let you stop easily.
  • Tires should be in good condition and inflated to their recommended pressure.
  • Wear an approved helmet that is properly fitted and other safety gear (gloves, bright clothing, glasses, etc.)
  • Keep your hands free for steering and braking.
  • Do not ride on someone’s handlebars (required by law).
  • Use a white front light and red rear light or reflector at night (required by law).
  • Ride with traffic (never against).
  • Avoid road surface hazards (potholes, loose gravel, broken glass, grates, railroad tracks, etc.).
  • Ride far enough away from parked cars so you don’t risk being hit by an opening car door.
  • Ride in a straight line.
  • Avoid blind spots.
  • Obey traffic signs and signals.
  • When stopped at a traffic light, stand and lean your bike to the side to trigger loop detectors.
  • Use hand signals when turning or stopping.
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • Be visible and ride alertly.

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