Portland Truck Accident Lawyers
If you are the victim of a truck accident, your injuries and losses could be severe and even life-changing. As you look for answers on what to do next, you should know your rights and the legal options that are available. The Portland truck accidents attorneys of Rizk Law are standing by to review your accident in a free legal consultation. There is no obligation to take legal action when you meet with us so there is absolutely no risk to you. If you choose to move forward, there will be no charge unless you are compensated.
Our founder Richard Rizk helped resolve insurance claims on the national level for Nationwide Insurance in the 1990’s, so he knows how insurance companies assess damages and injuries. Now as a Portland personal injury attorney, this experience is invaluable when pursuing fair compensation from insurance companies after truck accidents. Rizk also has thorough knowledge of trucking regulations on the state and federal level and stays informed of any changes. Our attorneys have helped many accident victims throughout Portland and the surrounding areas obtain full compensation for truck accident damages so they can move forward with their lives.
Oregon Truck Accident Statistics
In 2017, truck collisions accounted for 1,694 accidents in Oregon that caused 628 injuries and 52 fatalities. Most of these accidents involved tractor trailers or semi-trailers. There were 154 accidents involving a truck hitting a fixed object, 233 involving a truck overturning and just two caused by driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
The top 10 truck driver errors that led to accidents in 2017 were (from first to last):
- Failing to remain in a lane
- Following too close to other vehicles
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Improperly changing lanes
- Improperly turning
- Disregarding signs
- Tire failure
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently discovered a surprising trend that indicates that the majority of automotive collisions in the Portland metro area occur on urban arterial streets that run through the city rather than major highways such as I-205, I-84 or I-5. PBOT has designated 30 streets as part of a high crash network. These streets were the site of 57 percent of motor vehicle accident fatalities in 2016.
In 2016, East Portland was the site of 24 out of the 44 traffic deaths in Portland, with eleven of those fatalities involving trucks or cars. East Portland intersects with 15 of the 30 streets in the high crash network.
If you are a victim of an accident caused by the negligence of a truck driver, you may have grounds to pursue a lawsuit. Contact a qualified Portland truck accident lawyer today for a free consultation.
Why You Should Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer
There are many advantages to having an experienced, knowledgeable attorney after getting injured in a truck crash caused by negligence. Review the benefits of having an attorney below to find out why you should strongly consider obtaining qualified legal representation:
Attorneys Can Handle Complex Cases
Truck accident cases can get very complicated. For example, multiple parties could be liable for the accident, including the:
- Company that owns the truck
- Company that owns the trailer
- Company that loaded cargo into the trailer
- Truck manufacturer
- Repair shop that maintains the truck
- Manufacturer of the trailer
- Manufacturer of components of the truck, including tires, engine parts and brakes
- The company or person that leased the truck or trailer from its owner
There may be multiple insurance companies involved, including the insurance company for the driver, the truck’s owner, the maintenance company, and possibly even the truck manufacturer.
Proving negligence often involves finding and interpreting state or federal trucking regulations that can be confusing and difficult to understand. Determining the full value of the damages you suffered takes time and is extremely difficult to do on your own.
You should not have to deal with all of these issues after suffering a severe injury in a truck crash. Your focus needs to be on your medical treatment and making the best recovery possible.
This is why working with an attorney is a huge advantage after a truck accident. Our Portland truck accident lawyers have detailed knowledge of the various aspects of truck accident cases and how to apply that knowledge to the details of your accident.
Attorneys Have the Resources and Know-How to Investigate
The strength of your injury claim will likely depend on the quality of the investigation into the accident and your injuries. A quality investigation takes time because there are often so many factors involved in a truck accident, from the cause of the crash to the condition of the truck and its cargo and the driver's actions leading up to the accident.
At Rizk Law, we are prepared to gather all the relevant facts about your accident to prove negligence occurred and establish the full value of your damages. This includes going to the scene to gather evidence, talking to witnesses, evaluating your injuries and medical records, and evaluating the driver's history for traffic citations or violations of regulations.
Ensuring Your Claim is Filed Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
The most important thing to focus on after an accident is your health and safety. However, one other thing to remember is that there is a limited amount of time to pursue compensation for your physical, financial and emotional damages.
Insurance companies have deadlines for filing claims and the state of Oregon has a statute of limitations for filing personal injury lawsuits over trucking accident injuries. Oregon's deadline for lawsuits is two years from the date of the accident (ORS 12.110(1)). If you do not file a claim before an insurance company deadline or before the statute of limitations expires you may lose the right to file a claim.
Properly Valuing Your Claim
The settlement you need and deserve is not just a random number. The settlement our Portland truck accident lawyers will seek for you will be based on a life plan designed to provide compensation for your accident-related needs today and into the future.
All contingencies are accounted for; present and future medical bills, rehabilitation, property losses, lost present and future income, lost opportunity, as well as pain and suffering. If there was gross negligence, your settlement may also include punitive damages. In the end, it will look like a large lump sum, but it is more than that – post-accident compensation is a crucial part of moving forward after an accident.
Being Prepared to File a Lawsuit
Often, truck accident cases are resolved through an insurance settlement. However, sometimes insurance companies do not offer the compensation victims deserve. When this happens, your last resort may be to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Our truck accident lawyers in Portland are prepared to file a lawsuit if the insurance claims process is unsuccessful. In fact, one of the benefits of having an attorney, particularly one with trial experience, is that it might make insurance companies more likely to negotiate fairly. This could actually help you avoid the courtroom.
However, if a trial is necessary, you can rest assured that your attorney will help prepare you and keep you informed throughout the process. We know the thought of going to court is stressful and we want you to know we can manage everything on your behalf, fighting for your best interests.
If you were injured in a truck accident, contact us today at 503.245.5677 for a free consultation.
What is My Truck Accident Claim Worth?
The value of your case is based on the cost of the damages you suffered in the accident. This includes two main types of damages: economic and non-economic damages.
These are the damages that have a very specific value assigned to them. This value can be proven with specific documentation, including bills and receipts. Economic damages can include:
- Medical bills – This includes current and future medical costs related to your injury for things like prescription drugs, medical procedures and tests, hospital stays, rehabilitation, durable medical equipment and travel to doctor appointments.
- Lost wages and earning capacity – Truck crash injuries are often so severe that victims have to miss work for days, weeks or longer. If an injury is severe enough, it can cause a permanent impairment that forever affects the wages you earn through work. You could also receive compensation for education, training or vocational expenses you incur to allow you to return to the workforce.
- Cost of household services – The physical limitations created by your injuries might prevent you from doing household chores like you used to do. If you have to hire help for these things, you may be able to recover compensation to cover your costs.
- Property damage – Trucks are much larger than passenger vehicles and can cause irreparable damage to these vehicles in accidents. You may be able to recover compensation to repair or replace your vehicle if it gets damaged in the crash.
These are all the damages that do not have a specific monetary value attached to them. In other words, there are no receipts for these types of damages. The value of these damages is based on the evidence you present about their severity. Non-economic damages include things like:
- Pain and suffering – This includes the physical and mental hardship you endure because of your injuries. This also includes the physical pain you suffer and the emotional issues, like depression, anxiety or sleeplessness.
- Loss of companionship – Often, severe injuries affect the victim's relationship with his or her spouse. For example, maybe a married couple cannot have the same sexual relationship as they had before the accident. You may not be able to provide the same level of affection as before.
- Interference with normal and usual activities – This excludes the interference with gainful employment. This usually refers to hobbies or leisure activities that have been affected by your injuries. For instance, maybe you got a lot of enjoyment from playing a musical instrument and you can no longer do that.
Establishing the value of non-economic damages often requires medical testimony. We might also have you keep a journal where you describe the effects of your injuries on a daily basis.
Another factor affecting the value of your claim is the amount of coverage in the liability insurance policies that apply to your case. Liability insurance pays for your medical expenses and property damage.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires interstate truckers to maintain minimum levels of coverage depending on the type of cargo the trucks are hauling.
- $300,000 minimum for non-hazardous cargo that is transported in vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds
- $5,000,000 for vehicles with a seating capacity of more than 15 passengers; vehicles than can carry 15 or fewer passengers only need $1,500,000 in coverage
- $750,000 for general freight carriers, but the requirement can go up to $5,000,000 depending on what is being transported
- $1,000,000 for private carriers of oil and some types of hazardous waste
- $5,000,000 for carriers of different types of hazardous substances
Another factor affecting the value of your claim is whether or not you have any responsibility for the crash. Oregon has a contributory negligence law that reduces your compensation if you are partially at fault. Under this system, your percentage of fault determines how much your claim will be reduced. If you file a claim for $100,000 in damages, but you are 10 percent at fault, you will only be able to recover a maximum of $90,000.
However, if you are more than 50 percent at fault, you are barred from recovering any compensation, no matter how severe your injuries.
Given all the factors involved in the value of your claim, you could greatly benefit from working with an experienced Portland truck accident attorney. At Rizk Law, we know how to properly evaluate your claim to determine the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.
Fill out a Free Case Evaluation form right now.
Examples of Truck Accidents
No matter what type of truck accident you were involved in, if you suffered significant damages and you believe the crash was caused by negligence, you may have a valid legal claim. Some of the common types of truck accidents caused by negligence include:
- Rollover accidents – This is when a truck tips over onto its side. These often occur when a truck is carrying too much cargo, or the driver is going too fast up an incline or on a decline.
- Tire blowouts – A tire blowout greatly increases the risk of an accident because the driver could lose control. This is why drivers and motor carriers must carefully monitor the condition of tires. If they do not, they could potentially be held liable.
- Underride collisions – If a driver suddenly slams on the brakes, a car behind the truck could slam into the back. However, since the bottom of the trailer is often significantly higher than the hood of a passenger vehicle, the car could slide under the back. This puts you at risk for severe or fatal injury.
- Head-on collisions – These are possibly the most dangerous types of collisions because of the huge size and weight difference between the car and the truck. These are often caused by drunk driving.
- Air brake accidents – When the air brakes fail, the truck is a danger to all the vehicles around it. This is particularly true if the vehicle is going down a hill. This could be a result of poor maintenance or failure to replace brakes that needed to be replaced.
- Rear-end accidents – Trucks need much more space to stop than smaller vehicles. If the truck driver is not paying attention or is intoxicated, he or she could fail to give himself or herself enough space to come to a complete stop before hitting another vehicle.
- Lost load accidents – These accidents happen when cargo spills out of a truck onto the roadway or onto other vehicles. This is often due to the cargo not being properly secured in the trailer or overloading of the trailer. Trucks are only designed to safely carry a certain amount of cargo and when these limits are exceeded, it increases the risk of a crash.
These accidents can involve many types of commercial trucks, such as:
- 18-wheeler trucks
- Road trains
- Garbage trucks
- Tanker trucks
- Dump trucks
- Cement mixers
In 2017, tractor/semi-trailers were involved in 1,097 collisions in Oregon, causing 380 injuries and 32 fatalities. Trucks with fixed loads were involved in 282 crashes that caused 115 injuries and 16 fatalities.
Many truck accidents are the result of negligence, or failure to exercise reasonable care. Sometimes it is the driver who was negligent because he or she was intoxicated, driving recklessly, was distracted or disobeying traffic laws. Other times, the truck driver's employer was negligent about maintaining the truck so it was safe to operate.
It can be very difficult to determine the source of negligence that caused your accident. This is one of the advantages of working with a truck accident lawyer in Portland.
Call Rizk Law today at 503.245.5677.
What Steps Should I Take After a Truck Crash?
The first thing many people think about after an accident is their injuries and obtaining medical treatment. This is obviously the most important thing after an accident. Even if you do not think your injuries are that serious, go to a nearby hospital and get checked out. You may have been hurt worse than you think and you should always begin treatment as soon as possible.
Another reason to quickly seek treatment is that it helps to link your injuries to the accident. If you wait, it may be more difficult to prove this connection.
Be sure to also dial 9-1-1 and report the accident to the Portland Police Bureau. The officer will complete an accident report which can be a critical piece of evidence for your case. You can request a copy of the report by submitting a public records request online or by calling the Records Division.
However, there are secondary concerns after a truck accident, such as starting to build a claim for compensation for the damages you suffered. There are several steps you can take in the minutes after the crash to start collecting evidence that could be vital to your chances of recovering compensation.
Take Lots of Pictures
If you have a phone with a camera, start taking pictures. Make sure to capture a variety of things:
- Damage to your vehicle
- Damage to the truck
- Identifying information for the truck, such as the name on the side of the trailer, license plate and serial numbers for the trailer and cab
- Your visible injuries
- Debris in the accident scene
- Any damage to the roadway, guardrails or road signs
- Street signs to identify the location of the crash
Talk to Witnesses
If anyone is around who witnessed the crash, ask him or her about what happened. He or she may have had a good view of the accident and can provide valuable insights into what it looked like and what was happening in the moments before the collision.
Make sure to take notes and ask witnesses for their contact information. That way you can contact them again in the future if you need clarification on anything you discussed. These people may be able to testify as you are pursuing insurance compensation.
Get the Driver's Contact Information
You should also ask for the driver's contact information for his or her insurance company. This can speed up the process of filing an insurance claim. The faster you get the process started, the faster you may be able to recover compensation.
Watch What You Say to Insurance Companies
GPS devices in commercial trucks often notify truck companies of accidents in real time. This is why truck and insurance company investigators are often able to make it to the scene not long after the crash. They might even get there before the police arrive.
However, be very cautious when speaking to these people. They may seem nice, even compassionate, but you need to remember that they are not concerned about your best interests. Their real goal is to pay you as little as possible. If they make a settlement offer at the scene or soon after you leave the scene, it is unlikely it will be adequate for your injuries and future expenses, no matter how generous they make it seem.
You should decline to give a recorded statement or sign anything until speaking with a qualified Portland truck accident attorney. A lawyer can review these requests and help you decide if and when it is in your best interest to sign anything or provide a recorded statement.
Do Not Admit Any Fault
It is possible that you could have done things differently and you would have avoided a crash. However, the only way to really know what happened is to have the scene investigated by an experienced lawyer. This will reveal if you have any fault for the accident.
The problem with admitting fault right away is that it could hurt the value of your claim. This is particularly true if you admit fault to the insurance company for the truck driver or if you admit fault to the police. You should of course answer the police officer's questions but stick to the facts and not your opinions.
Contact a Lawyer Right Away
There are many advantages to working with a lawyer after a truck accident. However, to get the most out of working with a lawyer, you should contact them right away. You want to give your attorney plenty of time to determine if you have case, the fair value of your damages, and the best options for recovering compensation.
At Rizk Law, our Portland truck accident lawyers understand the pain and suffering caused by a truck accident. Contact us today to learn more about your case and how we can guide you through the legal process.
Our founder Richard Rizk is not intimidated by insurance company tactics and knows how to prepare your case to counter their position and obtain the settlement you need and deserve.
Trucking Industry Laws That May Affect Your Case
The central issue in a personal injury case is whether the victim's injuries and damages were caused by the negligence of another. Negligence refers to a failure to use reasonable care to prevent someone else from suffering an injury.
In a truck accident case, proving negligence may come down to proving the truck driver, his or her employer, or another entity violated federal or state trucking industry regulations.
Size and Weight Limitations
Oversized trucks can present a serious hazard to motorists for a number of reasons. Any truck weighing more than the maximum gross weight of 80,000 pounds is more likely to cause catastrophic injury to victims and damage to their vehicles.
The sheer size and weight of an oversized truck can also put additional strain on the braking system and tires, which can cause the truck’s tires to explode while traveling at high speed or not allow the truck driver to be able to stop in enough time to avoid a collision.
The Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT) Motor Carrier Transportation Division administers and enforces trucking regulations within the state. In Oregon, the legal width allowed for trucks is eight feet and six inches with a height limit of 14 feet including the load and a load length of 40 feet or less.
For a single axle truck, the weight limit is up to 600 pounds per inch of tire width or up to 20,000 pounds. A tandem axle truck with two or three-axles means the weight limit can be up to 600 pounds per inch of tire width or up to 34,000 pounds.
If a truck is not in compliance with these specific regulations, the truck driver may be charged with an overweight truck offense. Fines are calculated by the percentage the truck is overweight for its size.
Hours of Service Regulations
Some of the regulations that are often violated resulting in a truck accident are federal hours of service rules. These rules limit the number of consecutive hours property-carrying drivers can be on duty operating their vehicles. These rules state that drivers:
- Cannot drive more than 11 hours after being on duty for 10 consecutive hours
- Cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after being on duty after 10 consecutive off-duty hours
- Cannot drive unless eight hours or less have passed since the last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes
- Cannot drive after being on duty between 60 and 70 hours over a period of seven or eight consecutive days
Drug and Alcohol Testing Requirements
Some truck accidents are the result of the driver being drunk or under the influence of drugs. This is why federal and state regulations exist for drug and alcohol testing.
Oregon requires every motor carrier to have an in-house drug and alcohol testing program that complies with FMCSA guidelines. If a medical review officer from the testing program determines a driver has submitted a valid positive test, this must be reported to the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Under federal regulations, motor carriers are required to do drug and alcohol testing before permitting a driver to operate vehicle. Motor carriers are also required to do a drug test after certain types of accidents, including after:
- Fatal crashes, whether the driver was issued a traffic citation or not
- Crashes that cause bodily injury with medical treatment away from the scene, if a traffic citation was issued to the driver
- Crashes that caused disabling damage to a vehicle that was required to be towed away, provided the driver was issued a traffic citation
Sometimes commercial vehicles were not properly inspected and this leads to problems operating the vehicle and results in an accident.
This is why there are regulations on the inspections of vehicles. For example, vehicles must be inspected by a North American Standard Level I certified inspector. In other words, the inspector must comply with certification requirements under federal regulations.
Vehicles that are inspected and comply with the law are issued Oregon Commercial Vehicle Inspection Decals. These vehicles are not subject to being re-inspected. However, if there is an obvious defect, there is nothing preventing the vehicle from being re-inspected.
There are many other state and federal regulations that may be relevant to your accident. Staying on top of these laws is important to your case because any violation may be an indication of negligence by the trucking company. This is why it is so helpful to have a truck accident lawyer in Portland with extensive knowledge of these laws and regulations.
Call Rizk Law right now for a free legal consultation. 503.245.5677.
Contact a Portland Truck Accident Lawyer to Get the Legal Help You Need
Truck accidents are as complicated as they are often catastrophic. However, you do not have to face the consequences of your accident alone.
Schedule a free consultation today to learn how Rizk Law's Portland truck accident lawyers can put our experienced and skill to work for you. We know how devastating these crashes can be, physically, financially and emotionally, for the victim and his or her family members. Our attorneys are committed to pursuing maximum compensation because we know how important it is after a traumatic accident.
Call 503.245.5677 for your free legal consultation.