Truck Accident Lawyers in Hillsboro
When a passenger vehicle collides with a semi-truck, it can result in a devastating accident that causes severe injuries and death. Victims of truck accidents should understand their right to hold the at-fault party liable for the damages they suffered, and receive fair compensation that pays for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, truck accident claims can become complicated and confusing for many people who are unfamiliar with the commercial trucking industry. For this reason, it may be in your best interest to work with a Hillsboro truck accident lawyer who understands federal and state trucking laws and can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
For qualified legal representation after a truck accident, contact Rizk Law to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. Our Hillsboro truck accident lawyers have in-depth knowledge about the commercial trucking industry and the rules and regulations set in place to prevent serious truck accidents from happening. We know which parties are involved in a commercial trucking operation and will carefully investigate each one to determine which may be held liable for your damages.
When we represent our clients, we do so on a contingency fee basis. This means you will not be charged upfront legal fees for retaining our services. Working with Rizk Law’s trucking accident attorneys in Hillsboro is risk-free and you only have to pay us if we help you recover compensation.
Call 503.245.5677 today to request your free consultation.
Parties That Can Be Held Liable for a Commercial Trucking Accident
After a trucking accident, you will need to determine which party is liable for the collision to recover compensation for your damages. However, there are often multiple parties involved in a commercial trucking operation. Each one has its own duties and responsibilities to ensure semi-trucks, 18-wheelers and other large commercial trucks are safe and well-maintained to avoid causing an accident.
The Trucking Company
Trucking companies have several obligations to make sure their vehicles and drivers under their employment are adequately prepared for long-distance hauls. Trucking companies must regularly inspect and maintain the vehicles they own, hire qualified and competent drivers, and follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) regulations.
After a truck accident, a trucking company can be held liable for the victim’s damages if:
- The truck’s driver is employed by the trucking company but did not have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
- The trucking company failed to thoroughly check the driver’s credentials or conduct a background check on the driver before making a hiring decision
- The vehicle involved in the accident was not properly inspected before being approved for road use
- The trucking company neglected to perform routine maintenance on the vehicle or address critical mechanical issue, such as a defective or broken vehicle part
- The truck’s driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident
- The policies of the trucking company required its drivers to intentionally break the FMCSA’s regulations, such as its hours-of-service rules
The Truck’s Driver
Commercial carrier drivers are often under pressure to meet tight deadlines when delivering their cargo, requiring them to spend many hours on the road. However, truck drivers have a duty of care to ensure they safely operate semi-trucks, 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles to avoid causing an accident.
If a truck driver attempts to complete a long-distance haul to deliver his or her cargo under a restrictive deadline, it may cause the driver to recklessly operate his or her commercial vehicle. This may include violating the FMCSA’s hours-of-service rules or other federal and state trucking regulations. This can increase the risk of a truck accident and may cause the driver to be liable for any resulting damages suffered by the victims.
Furthermore, truck drivers are strictly prohibited from using drugs or alcohol while on duty. If a Hillsboro truck accident lawyer finds that the truck driver involved in your crash was intoxicated at the time of the incident, he or she may be held liable for your injuries and financial losses.
Likewise, a trucking company can be held liable if it failed to adequately test the driver for drug or alcohol use before he or she began driving.
In Washington County, where Hillsboro is located, motor carrier officers are charged with enforcing laws related to commercial vehicles, including:
- Setting up portable weight inspection spots
- Ensuring hazardous materials are properly contained
- Inspecting the mechanical safety of a vehicle
Under state law, there are restrictions on the size and weight of vehicles that can operate on the road. Permits are usually required when a vehicle is greater than eight feet six inches in width or 14 feet in height.
The length of vehicles that can operate can vary between 40 and 95 feet depending on vehicle type. The weight limitations are dependent on the number of axles on the vehicle and how far apart the axles are. The local road authority can allow vehicles that do not fit within these restrictions on roads in their jurisdiction. For example, special permits can be issued to use restricted county roads.
Washington County's motor carrier map shows the roadways and highways that have restrictions that apply to commercial vehicles. For example, 205th Avenue in Hillsboro has a length limit of 50 feet. Truck are also prohibited from passing through Johnson Street between 198th and Cornelius Pass Road.
Vehicle and Parts Manufacturer
In some cases, a truck accident may result from a defective vehicle part. Manufacturers have an obligation to ensure their products are safe for use when they are released into the market or installed into a commercial vehicle. A defective or broken part may cause a semi-truck to breakdown or suffer serious damage. This can result in the semi-truck’s driver to lose control of the vehicle while traveling around other vehicles.
If our Hillsboro truck accident attorneys find that a manufacturer knowingly sold a defective part or could have taken steps to prevent the part from becoming defective, we may be able to hold it liable for any resulting injuries or death.
Loading and Cargo Companies
Often, trucking companies hire third-party loading companies to pack the cargo into the semi-truck. Loading companies must ensure the vehicle’s cargo is safely stored so that it will not cause damage while being transported. Likewise, the loading company must take steps to secure the cargo inside the vehicle so that it does not fall out of the truck or cause the vehicle to topple over.
Contact Rizk Law if you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
In 2016, approximately 3,900 people in the U.S. were killed in commercial truck accidents, according to data collected by the FMCSA. Although the commercial trucking industry is heavily regulated by state and federal laws, there are several factors that may increase the risk of causing a serious truck accident, such as:
Many truck drivers are required to work long hours in order to meet a deadline. Because of this, many commercial vehicle drivers spend as much time as possible driving to reach their destination, which often comes at the cost of getting enough sleep and rest. This can cause the driver to suffer from fatigue and exhaustion.
To avoid becoming fatigued or exhausted while driving, the FMCSA requires commercial vehicle drivers to follow strict hours of service regulations. These rules dictate how many hours a truck driver is allowed to operate his or her vehicle in a 24-hour period. They include as follows:
- 11-hour driving limit: The operator may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- 14-hour driving limit: The operator may not drive beyond 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Furthermore, off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
- Rest breaks: The operator may only drive if eight hours or less have passed since the end of his or her last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes.
- 60/70-hour limit: The operator may not drive after spending 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days. Likewise, the operator may not drive after remaining on duty of 70 hours in eight consecutive days.
- Sleeper berth provision: Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take a minimum of eight consecutive hours in the vehicle’s sleeper berth. Additionally, the operator must spend a consecutive two hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.
Commercial vehicle operators must record the number of hours they spent on and off duty in a log book required by the FMCSA. Our Hillsboro trucking accident lawyers can request a copy of the driver’s log book to find out if he or she may have violated the hours of service regulations.
According to the FMCSA, one of the most common causes of commercial trucking accidents are mistakes made by the vehicle’s driver. In fact, an FMCSA study on the causes of semi-truck accidents found that 87 percent of trucking accidents result from driver error. Some of the most common types of truck driver error include:
- Non-performance: This may include situations where the truck’s driver lost control of the vehicle, such as falling asleep as the steering wheel, becoming disabled due to a heart attack or seizure, or was physically impaired due to another reason.
- Recognition: The driver was inattentive, became distracted by something inside or outside his or her vehicle, or failed to adequately observe the situation.
- Decision: The truck’s operator made a poor driving decision that resulted in causing an accident. This may include the decision to drive too fast under poor conditions, committing traffic violations, or followed another vehicle too closely and did not have time to react to upcoming hazards. This may also include the decision to consume drugs or alcohol during his or her shift, becoming intoxicated and being unable to safely operate the vehicle.
- Performance: The truck’s operator exhibited poor driving capabilities, including panicking over an unexpected hazard or change in traffic, overcompensating or exercising poor control over the vehicle.
Commercial vehicles must be carefully inspected to make sure they are safe for road use. To ensure this, the FMCSA requires commercial motor carriers and operators to inspect, repair and maintain all vehicles and equipment under their control.
Failing to regularly inspect and maintain a semi-truck, 18-wheeler or other type of commercial truck may result in the vehicle experiencing a mechanical failure. Parts that are often at risk of mechanical failure include the vehicle’s:
- Steering system
- Couplers and hitches
- Tires and wheels
- Suspension hydraulic brake system
- Electrical system
- Vehicle instruments
- Auxiliary system
Trucking companies and commercial vehicle operators are required to keep detailed maintenance logs about the vehicles under their control. This includes the frequency in which they conduct inspections and the necessary repairs each vehicle requires. Our Hillsboro truck accident lawyers can obtain a copy of the inspection and repair records for the semi-truck involved in your accident. If we find that the vehicle failed inspection or required repairs that were not made, we can hold the at-fault party liable for its negligence.
Call 503.245.5677 to find out if you have a trucking accident case.
Compensation Available After a Trucking Accident
Due to the severe damages victims of truck accidents may suffer, there can be several types of compensation available to pursue in a truck accident lawsuit. This includes compensation for:
- Past and future medical treatment
- Lost wages or income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Medical assistive equipment
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional or psychological distress
- Loss of companionship
During your free consultation, a truck accident attorney in Hillsboro can review your claim and help you determine the full extent of compensation you may be entitled to receive. This includes which types of damages you suffered and whether your actions during the crash may affect the value of your claim.
In Oregon, the value of your truck accident claim will be determined by using the principle of contributory fault. Under this rule, each party involved in the truck accident will be assigned a percentage based on their degree of fault in causing the accident. If you are found to be partially at fault for causing the truck accident, you can still recover compensation as long as your fault is not greater than the other party’s. However, the value of your claim or lawsuit will be reduced by the percentage you are assigned.
For example, you may have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party seeking $100,000 in damages. However, it is discovered that you were speeding at the time of the crash, and are 30 percent at fault for causing your injuries. In this situation, the amount of compensation you may receive will be reduced by 30 percent. As a result, the maximum amount of compensation you can receive will be $70,000.
At Rizk Law, we understand that victims of truck accidents need compensation to recover from their injuries. We are familiar with Oregon’s negligence laws and will work to help you receive the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now.
How a Hillsboro Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
Many people find it difficult to handle a truck accident claim on their own. Often, you will need to communicate with several insurance companies and attorneys to pursue the compensation you need. This can be confusing, and insurers often depend on victims being unfamiliar with the commercial trucking industry to pay them the least amount of compensation possible. For this reason, it may be in your best interest to consult with a trusted lawyer who can help with your claim.
As experienced trucking accident attorneys in Hillsboro, we know how to recover compensation from trucking companies and the insurance companies that represent them. When we represent our clients, we are committed to getting fair results by:
Investigating the Truck Accident
One of the first things our Hillsboro truck accidents do after reviewing your claim is to begin investigating the accident. We will try to build a strong case against the at-fault party that proves it is liable for the accident that caused your injuries. This may require us to obtain evidence like:
- The truck’s driver’s operating log to determine if he or she violated hours of service regulations
- The truck’s vehicle inspection report to find out if it may have been equipped with a defective part, failed a routine inspection, or required repairs
- Video footage of the truck accident, if it is available
- The truck driver’s driving record, to find out if he or she had a history of traffic violations, valid CDL, or prior drug or alcohol charges
- The truck driver’s employment record, to determine if he or she was employed by the trucking company or is an independent contractor
- Records indicating the contents that the truck was carrying, to see if they posed an unnecessary risk to other motorists
- Records from the company that loaded the truck’s cargo, to find out if the contents were safely secured
- Witness accounts of your truck accident, if possible
Proving the At-Fault Part Was Negligent
To hold the at-fault party liable for your damages, we will need to prove that your truck accident was caused by another’s negligence. To do this, we need to show that four factors were present during the accident:
- Duty of care: You were owed a duty of care by the at-fault party, which had a legal obligation to ensure your safety.
- Breach of duty: The at-fault party failed to uphold its obligation, and breached its duty of care by failing to exercise reasonable caution to prevent the truck from crashing.
- Causation: Your injuries were directly caused by the at-fault party’s breach of duty.
- Damages: You suffered an injury or financial loss, such as medical expenses or loss of income, due to the at-fault party’s breach of duty.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies
Our personal injury lawyers in Hillsboro are skilled negotiators and have decades of combined legal experience negotiating with insurance companies. We have recovered millions in verdicts and settlements and understand how to accurately value a claim. Our knowledge of the commercial trucking industry and their insurance policies will help us determine a fair amount of compensation that will pay for the damages you suffered after the truck accident.
We will use our skills and experience to reach a fair settlement on your behalf. However, we will have your best interest in mind throughout the entire process. If we do not believe you are being offered a fair settlement, we will not hesitate to explore other options to recover the compensation you deserve.
Our founder Richard Rizk gained invaluable insights when he worked for insurance companies before starting this law firm. He defended injury claims as an insurance company defense lawyer and authorized payment of large loss claims.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Rizk Law Today
If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, contact Rizk Law as soon as possible to discuss your right to pursue compensation from the at-fault party. We provide free consultations that comes with no obligation to become our client.
However, we do not charge our clients upfront for our services. Our Hillsboro truck accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means we will represent you for no cost unless we help you recover compensation. Find out today if you may be entitled to take legal action after a truck accident.
Call us now at 503.245.5677 to get started.