Portland Trucking Accident Lawyer
Oregon Trucking Accidents Call for Tough-Minded Representation
Trucking accidents can be tragic given the size of tractor-trailers, also known as 18-wheelers or big rigs. Trucks can be more than 20 times the size of an average passenger vehicle. It’s difficult to imagine the destruction caused by a truck accident on a busy Oregon roadway like Interstate-5 or Interstate-84. But with such significant forces involved, injuries in Oregon and Washington truck accidents no doubt tend to be severe. In some cases, a wrongful death is the outcome of a collision involving a tractor-trailer and a passenger car.
If you or a loved one was injured in a tractor-trailer accident or a crash caused by a delivery truck, logging truck or another type of large commercial vehicle in Oregon or Washington, or a commercial truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. It’s imperative to retain experienced legal representation. At Zbinden & Curtis in Portland, we help clients in Oregon and Washington pursue maximum compensation for their losses. We put our experience and resources to work for clients.
Investigating Trucking Accidents in Oregon
In determining the cause of the truck crash, our firm in many cases will investigate the trucking company to see if any rules were violated. Truck drivers are under pressure to move their cargo quickly. While regulations limit the number of hours drivers can stay behind the wheel, drivers sometimes ignore those rules and push themselves to the point of fatigue, if not exhaustion. They may fall asleep behind the wheel, and it only takes one sleepy truck driver to risk the safety of all other drivers on the road. The main reasons truck accidents are so dangerous are their size, their average speed and driver fatigue. At Zbinden & Curtis, we thoroughly understand the state and federal regulations governing the trucking industry.
Large commercial trucks cause thousands of serious accidents every year. Nationwide, more than 4,000 people are killed in fatal truck accidents and another 90,000 people sustain serious injuries every year, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In Oregon, truck accidents account for more than 2,000 accidents with more than 50 deaths and 600 injuries on average each year statewide, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. As for Washington, truck accidents result in more than 5,000 accidents on average each year, causing more than 40 fatalities and 400 injuries each year on average, according to the Washington Department of Transportation.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
There’s no set dollar amount when it comes to truck accident claims. What matters is you should be financially compensated for all your accident-related expenses. What you might not realize is such expenses can occur years after your accident. Such expenses can include:
- Repairing or replacing your vehicle
- All past, present and future medical expenses related to your truck accident injury
- Replacement income while you’re recovering from your injury
- Lost future income if you cannot return to work
- Pain and suffering in many circumstances
Such expenses can quickly add up to thousands of dollars or significantly more. And if you don’t demand the money you deserve, you could end up having to pay for your accident out of your own pocket. This is why it’s critical that you have an experienced lawyer on your side, standing up for your rights after your accident.
Who Is Liable For My Accident?
Liability in truck accident claims can be particularly complicated. That’s because liability involves who’s legally responsible for your accident. Unlike other motor vehicle accident claims, truck accident claims can often involve more than one at-fault party. This is important since the at-fault party is responsible for financially compensating people injured in truck accidents in Oregon and Washington. That’s because both states have an at-fault insurance system, meaning the at-fault party is responsible for paying for all accident-related expenses.
In the case of a truck accident claim, the at-fault party can be one or more of the following individuals or companies:
- The truck driver who caused your accident
- The trucking company the truck driver works for, especially if the trucking company knowingly hired a driver with a history of causing serious accidents or problems with the driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- The company that owns the truck’s cab
- The company that owns the truck’s trailer
- The company that loaded the truck, especially if the truck was improperly loaded and caused a rollover or jackknife accident
- The company responsible for maintaining the truck, especially if the truck was improperly maintained and caused a collision due to defective brakes, a tire blowout or another maintenance issue
- The company that manufactured the truck and its parts, especially if a mechanical defect or defective truck part (tires, brakes, etc.) caused your collision
Truck accident claims can be extremely complicated. Don’t try to tackle your case on your own. Make sure you have an experienced attorney on your side who can help you every step of the way.
Laws That Apply To Truck Accidents
Another reason why commercial truck accidents can be so complicated is different laws apply to commercial truck drivers and the trucking industry. Many of these rules and regulations are at the federal level and apply to truck drivers nationwide.
Such laws include Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the rules governing trucking companies and commercial truck drivers overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Title 49 contains many rules governing commercial trucks and truck drivers, including the requirements for obtaining and maintaining and commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Other state and federal laws governing truck drivers in Oregon include:
- Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which are federal rules which limit how many hours commercial truck drivers can work and when truck drivers must take mandatory breaks. Such rules can be found in Title 49, Part 395 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
- Commercial trucks must be equipped with an electronic logging device, also known as a “black box,” electronic control module (ECM) or event data recorder (EDR). This device serves as a log or diary, which records critical data about the truck, including how long the truck has been operated, when the truck driver takes breaks and the speed the truck is traveling at different times. Such data can be critical in a truck accident investigation since the truck driver may have been speeding or skipped a mandatory break when the accident occurred.
- Training requirements for commercial truck drivers, which can be found in Title 49, Part 380 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
- Fitness requirements for commercial truck drivers, which can be found in Title 49, Part 385 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
- Rules for truck drivers transporting hazardous materials, which can be found in Title 49, Parts 105 – 110 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
- Drug and alcohol testing requirements for commercial truck drivers, which can be found in Title 49, Part 199 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
In addition, federal law prohibits all commercial truck drivers from texting while driving nationwide, regardless of what the laws are in individual states. This is just a small sampling of some of the complex rules governing truck drivers. This is why it’s critical that you have an experienced attorney on your side who thoroughly understands the laws governing truck drivers in your state after your accident. Otherwise, you might overlook evidence that could help build a stronger legal case.
Dealing With Trucking Companies
Many truck accident claims can be very complicated. One of the reasons why has to do with trucking companies. Many times, they do everything they can to make such cases complicated. Sometimes, they don’t return phone calls from you or other injury victims seeking information after an accident. Other times, insurance companies take the opposite approach and may contact you seeking information they can use to deny your claim.
Trucking companies also have exclusive access to important accident data, which they can legally destroy after a certain period of time. Such information includes Hours of Service (HOS) logs and the truck’s electronic control module (ECM) records. In the case of HOS logs, for example, truck drivers can legally destroy such records after 6 months, according to Title 49, Part 395 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Your lawyer can deal directly with the trucking company on your behalf and demand to see all the records related to your accident, including inspection reports and the truck’s driving history. Such evidence can be very useful, especially if the truck driver’s license was revoked or the driver has a history of causing other accidents in the past.
Trucking Accidents and Insurance Companies
Truck accident cases can be complicated and multiple insurance companies may be involved. Insurance companies often use teams of attorneys, adjusters and investigators to do all they can to pay as little as possible to people injured in accidents. Sometimes, the insurance company will deny a claim in an attempt to protect the truck driver’s driving record. Personal injury attorneys Zbinden & Curtis are not intimidated by their scare tactics. We will fight aggressively in our pursuit of compensation for clients.
When you retain our firm, you will level the playing field. The insurance company will know that you mean business. If you or a loved one was injured, call or email our law firm promptly. Too much is at stake to let the insurance companies decide what happens next. Significant injuries in a truck accident may include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Back and neck injury
- Fractures or broken bones
- Injuries requiring surgery
Contact a Trucking Accident Lawyer
Contact us for a free, confidential consultation. There’s no obligation. An experienced truck accident lawyer can assist you or your loved one with your case.
In some cases, you may not need an attorney and if that is what's best for your situation, we will tell you. At Zbinden & Curtis, we’re a no-nonsense law firm, so our clients get honest and direct advice. We’re committed to maintaining the highest standards of integrity, honesty, professionalism and competence.
Call (503) 287-5000 today for your free personal injury consultation.