Portland Truck Accident Attorney
Have you been injured in a commercial truck accident involving a delivery van, semi-truck, or 18-wheeler? Professional legal representation from an Oregon truck accident lawyer can make all the difference in protecting your legal rights and obtaining the compensation you need for your recovery and suffering.
Accidents involving commercial trucks, such as delivery vans, semi-trucks, and 18 wheelers, often result in severe injuries and fatalities due to the massive size and force of these trucks. They pose a greater threat to passenger car occupants, cyclists, and pedestrians, and for this reason, are required by federal and state law to carry large liability insurance policies.
Not only are truck accidents more severe than most car accidents, they are often more legally complex. Federal and state regulations control many aspects of operating a trucking business, including maintenance schedules, load maximums, inspections, liability insurance coverage, and driver conduct. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you will want to make certain your personal injury attorney in Portland, OR is familiar with these laws and is able to identify violations, conduct or omissions necessary to prove the truck driver and trucking company is liable for the crash. You can bet that the trucking company involved will do everything in its power to minimize its exposure.
Oregon’s Truck Accident Problem
Federal Safety Regulations, Oregon Law, and Oregon Administrative Rules govern how truck drivers and motor carriers operate on Oregon’s highways. To enforce these laws, truck safety inspections are routinely conducted by trained Motor Carrier Transportation Division staff and law enforcement officers. In 2016, 32,850 inspections were conducted on trucks and drivers operating in Oregon. Such inspections may result in uncovering minor infractions or they can result in the truck and/or driver being taken “out-of-service” for a critical violation. Oregon’s inspection results indicate the existence of major problems with out-of-service critical violations far exceeding national averages. For example, 15% of Oregon truck drivers were placed out-of-service for a critical violation as compared to the national average of 5%. In addition, 23% of vehicles inspected in Oregon were placed out-of-service as compared to the national average of 20%.
In 2016, 15% of Oregon truck drivers were placed out-of-service for a critical violation as compared to the national average of 5% … Oregon DOT
The trucking industry’s challenge is to retain drivers in an industry that routinely requires drivers to work 80-hour work weeks and where annual turnover is more than 90%.This leads to driver fatigue and stress, safety violations, and reduced equipment maintenance – all factors contributing to truck accidents.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you need an Oregon truck accident attorney who understands how to investigate a truck driver’s and the motor carrier’s safety record. A history of violations without appropriate corrections may be a key factor in proving fault in your truck accident case.
When someone is injured in a crash with a semi-truck or large commercial truck, the trucking company will often send its people to the collision scene to obtain evidence and confront the victims. Large trucking companies have their own attorneys and investigators at their immediate disposal in case of a truck accident. It is precisely this reason why you need an experienced Oregon truck accident lawyer to protect your rights and fight for you.
There are many unique issues involved in truck accidents that are not present in typical automobile accidents. For instance, driver fatigue is a common issue as long-haul truckers drive for hours on end and into the night. Due to their weight and length, most commercial trucks take longer to stop than passenger vehicles. Drivers of semi-trucks also have reduced visibility and blind spots where passenger vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians may not be visible to the truck driver. Semi-trucks are also more susceptible to rolling or jackknifing. Semi-truck accidents also occur because 1) loads can be too heavy, 2) unsafe driving, 3) substandard equipment, and 4) dangerous tires. These are just some of the unique issues involved in semi-truck accidents.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, there are avariety of factors your Portland truck accident attorney will take into consideration in investigating and evaluating your case against the trucking company. These include comprehensive accident scene investigations, inspecting the engine control module to see the driver’s conduct just prior to the crash, inspecting the truck and its equipment before it has been repaired or destroyed, evaluating log books and GPS data, determining how many hours the truck driver has worked and slept in the days leading up to the crash, reviewing the driver’s pre-trip inspection reports and compliance with federal regulations.
Oregon Truck Accident FAQs
Why are truck accidents more complex than typical motor vehicle accidents?
Oregon truck accident lawyers who specialize in legal cases involving commercial truck accidents must have extensive knowledge and experience with the laws, regulations, and legal process involved in litigating truck accident cases. When compared to the typical motor vehicle accident, truck accidents are much more complex for the following reasons:
- Damages and injuries are usually extensive and involve cost recovery strategies that extend through the lifetime of the injured parties. Legal settlements or jury awards that contemplate future medical costs or lost wages are very complex and require experienced legal representation.
- Because damages and settlement costs can be in the millions of dollars, insurance companies are willing to spend aggressively on legal teams to defend client actions, shift or share the blame, and minimize settlement awards and jury verdicts
- The cause of the truck accident, and the contributing factors may be difficult to determine unless extensive investigations are made into the history and current condition of the truck, driver, and trucking company. These parties have a legal responsibility to meet federal and Oregon regulatory standards, properly maintain their equipment, and operate their vehicles according to safe practices. When they violate these conditions, they can be held liable for any damages they create.
- Determining the legally responsible person or company can be difficult, and is dependent on the results of the accident investigation. For example, trucks may be owned by one company, operated by another, maintained by a third company, and driven by someone who may or may not be an employee of the operating company. If the investigation shows a defective part (tires, brakes, etc.) may have contributed to the accident, then you can add to the list of potentially responsible parties – the manufacturer of the defective component.
What type of moving violations cause most of Oregon’s trucking accidents?
Trucking accidents on Oregon highways are increasing. Statistics from 2015 indicate a 6.4% increase in the number of crashes causing a 12% increase in personal injuries.
Oregon’s Department of Transportation is one of the few government agencies that track incidents of truck accidents to determine who was at-fault, and the driving behavior or violation that caused the accident. In the latest report published in 2017, ODOT indicates that truck drivers are at-fault 54% of the time and automobile drivers caused the accident 40% of the time. Truck driver actions that most frequently caused the accidents include speeding, following too close, failure to maintain the lane, illegal lane change or turn, and failure to yield.
What typical regulatory violations contribute to causing truck accidents?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association and the US Department of Transportation track regulatory violations that are the leading causes of commercial truck accidents on our highways. These regulatory violations are not always obvious to initial police accident investigators and require a lot of digging to uncover how they may have caused or contributed to a truck accident. An Oregon truck accident lawyer who specializes in trucking accidents can be very effective in uncovering the facts. Here are some of the major violations that an experienced Oregon truck accident lawyer will investigate:
- Operating hours violations – truck drivers are limited by a set of complex (and confusing) regulations as to how many hours they may drive without a break, sleep, or time off. These rules are designed to combat driver fatigue, which is one of the main factors in causing truck accidents. Drivers are required to maintain records of their operating hours and companies are liable to enforce these regulations. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find accidents where drivers fell asleep at the wheel or became so fatigued that they failed to react to an emergency, as in the case of comedian Tracy Morgan’s accident. In 2016, Oregon safety inspections found that 25% of the Oregon drivers inspected (i.e. 8,358 drivers) were caught falsifying logbooks or keeping inaccurate logs, to cover up their driving habits.
- Driving under the influence – Commercial truck drivers are held to higher standards than other drivers when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. It is illegal for commercial drivers to operate vehicles with a blood alcohol level exceeding .04, or half the limit for other drivers, as well as under the influence of narcotics or prescription medicines.
- Improperly loaded cargo – Cargo that is improperly loaded or exceeds weight limitations for the vehicle can cause equipment malfunctions, equipment failures, loss of control, and over-turning. Motor Carriers are liable when they load trailers improperly.
- Poor vehicle maintenance – Motor carriers are responsible for maintaining the safety and proper operation of their vehicles. Vehicles are routinely subject to inspections to determine if their brakes and safety equipment are functioning properly. Unfortunately, 14% of drivers inspected in Oregon, and 23% of vehicles inspected in Oregon routinely fail these inspections.
- Negligent hiring, training, and operating practices – Motor carriers have a responsibility to hire individuals who are qualified, knowledgeable, and have safe driving track records. How would you feel about a drunk Oklahoma truck driver, driving on Oregon highways with a suspended license, in a vehicle that had failed multiple equipment inspections within 7 months, and who did not maintain any driving logs or records? His actions shut down both north and southbound lanes of I-5 in Portland. Truck drivers like this need to be held accountable for their actions, especially when they cause injuries to other innocent drivers. It is negligent for a trucking company not to know if their drivers have valid commercial licenses, are drug and alcohol-free, and are adhering to safe operating practices.
What should you do if you have been involved in a truck accident?
First, focus on your medical recovery. Get the best medical treatment you can find.
Second, trucking company investigators or insurance adjusters will attempt to contact you under the pretext that they want to help you and clarify the facts in the truck accident. Their objective is to solely represent the trucking company – they are NOT your friend – do NOT talk to them.
Third, seek help from an experienced Oregon truck accident lawyer who will take your case on a contingency basis, with no up-front cost to you. They have the legal resources and knowledge necessary to investigate the accident, determine fault and who is responsible, and seek maxium compensation for your injuries If the trucking company and their insurance carrier won’t agree to appropriate financial compensation, then your Oregon truck accident lawyer will file a lawsuit and seek justice in a jury trial.
It is very important that you obtain legal services in a timely manner as your lawyer will be instrumental in initiating crash investigations and preserving records, log books, and maintenance records.
Travis Mayor — Portland Truck Accident Lawyer | Getting Results For Injured Truck Accident Victims
If you or a loved one has been injured or involved in a fatal accident with a semi-truck or large commercial vehicle, you will need to focus on your recovery. While you do this, let Portland truck accident lawyer Travis Mayor focus on your case. Travis Mayor has experience working with victims of truck accidents in Oregon. He will take the appropriate steps to preserve truck accident evidence so that investigations and reconstruction can be handled correctly. In addition, he understands the complex state and federal statutes that regulate the trucking industry, and can move quickly on your case while evidence is fresh.
As a former insurance defense attorney, Travis knows the tactics large insurance companies will use to try and convince you to settle for much less than the actual value of your case. He knows the games they play and is prepared to fight on your behalf today.
Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation and case evaluation or call (503) 610-0005. At Mayor Law, we fight for justice for injury victims of Portland semi truck accidents, and we fight to win! You pay nothing up front and nothing unless you win your trucking accident case.
Articles of Interest – Mayor Law Blog