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Comparative fault and bicycle accidents

As is the case with other vehicles on the road, residents of Portland, Oregon, who choose to use their bicycles to go from point A to point B have legal obligations that they must follow. For instance, bicyclists should ride with the flow of traffic and, when one is available, in the designated bicycle lane. Younger riders also must wear helmets.

These rules are designed for bicyclists' own protection and really should be followed, it may raise an important question in the minds of victims of bike accidents who may have not been following all the rules of traffic that apply to bicyclists at the time of their wreck. Specifically, they may wonder whether they can still get compensation if a car hit them.

In this respect, it is important to remember that Oregon has what is called a modified comparative negligence law. In essence, what this means is that if a bicyclist is partially at fault for an accident, say, if he or she wasn't traveling in the designated bike lane, then the victim can still recover from the driver of the car that hit him or her but will have compensation reduced so that the other driver is only paying for the portion of the accident that is his fault.

On the other hand, if it turns out that the bicyclist is majority at fault for his own injuries, then compensation may not be possible.

Comparative fault is generally speaking good news for accident victims, but the details as to whether it applies to a person's particular case are best worked out with the help of an experienced attorney. In any event, though, an injured bicyclist should not automatically give up on a case just because they think they are partially responsible for their own injuries.

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