A Portland, Oregon bicyclist who suffered serious personal injuries when a driver hit him and fled the scene of the accident is suing the Portland government for its narrow bike lanes. The bicyclist suffered 11 spinal fractures as a result of the accident.
Many personal injury lawsuits pursue the other driver when accidents take place. Ordinarily, a skilled personal injury law firm such as The Law Office Douglas Green  will review the case and often seek compensation from the negligent driver. However, in the case of the injured cyclist, the driver fled the scene of the accident and has yet to be identified.
According to The Oregonian, the cyclist is suing the city of Portland for its dangerously designed bike lanes stretching between Freemont Bridge at North Russell Street to North Going Street.
Yet, will the $21.4 million lawsuit prevail in court?
The case makes some strong points. For instance, Oregon has an administrative rule on the books suggesting that bike lanes be at least six feet wide. Additionally, the city’s own Bicycle Master Plan flags the mile-long stretch of road where the bicyclist was injured as needing a wider bike lane.
Yet, the case also faces some serious challenges. Four foot wide lanes are considered permissible, in some cases, under Oregon Administrative Rule. Suing the government also comes with unique challenges.
Ordinarily, the government is protected from lawsuit through the principle of sovereign immunity. According to the Cornell University Law School, under sovereign immunity, the U.S. government can only be sued if it consents to be sued. While sovereign immunity was historically applied absolutely, in recent years, the doctrine has been handled variously by state and Federal governments. Formerly, under the principle of sovereign immunity, individuals also had a very limited amount of time in which to sue the government. The time limit alone is often prohibitive.
Yet, a recent Supreme Court ruling pertaining to a Portland, Oregon case, now makes it much easier for citizens to sue the government. Individuals, in the past, had two years to make their claim against the Federal government. Because the government must consent to the lawsuit, in many cases, processing of paperwork and bureaucratic delays would result in the two year statute of limitations passing before individuals were given the go-ahead to proceed with a lawsuit. The Supreme Court’s ruling, according to The Oregonian, has the effect of relaxing the statute of limitations in cases where delays in suing simply cannot be avoided, either due to circumstantial concerns or due to bureaucracy. The ruling will make it possible for more people to sue the government without fear that bureaucratic delays will invalidate their claims.
For those who have suffered personal injuries at the hands of the government or due to negligence on the part of government agencies or employees, the ruling means that justice can finally be served and that victims now have a fair chance of receiving reimbursement for medical expenses, pain and suffering, changes in quality of life, and missed time at work.
Suing the government for a personal injury is still a complex process. It is certainly not as easy as suing another driver for negligence. Government agencies and employees working in official capacities receive a great deal of protections under the law. And, lawsuits, like those presented by the Portland cyclist, are rare due to the fact that accidents are often the result of negligence on the part of a driver and not necessarily due to road defects or official signage problems.
Yet, the bike lane in question is a particular dangerous one in Portland, Oregon. Since its construction in 2003, nine people have either been injured or killed while biking on the stretch of road. The lawsuit not only mentions the narrowness of the lane but also the lack of proper signage, and lack of proper lane demarcations to keep drivers from weaving into the bike lane.
Suing the government or another negligent party for personal injury can sometimes be challenging, as many official procedures must be followed. A personal injury attorney in Portland, Oregon can often ensure the best possible outcome for an individual’s case. For answers to your legal questions you can visit us online at www.douglasgreenattorney.com.
In the case of the Oregon bike lane between Freemont Bridge at North Russell Street to North Going Street, only time will tell whether the lawsuit will result in improvements to the width of the lane and to the quality of signage around this deadly stretch of road.

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