If you or someone close to you has been involved in an accident with a semi-truck in the Beaverton or Portland areas, consult with a semi truck accident lawyer experienced with Oregon law immediately or you risk losing valuable evidence. Big rig accidents are different from a normal car accident case – both in terms of the truck laws that apply, and the nature of the collision and injuries. There is nothing more frightening than a collision with an eighteen-wheeler big rig at 60 mph on Highway 26 or 217. The sheer size of semi-trucks means the injuries are often more likely to be fatal.

You need a truck accident attorney to navigate the federal trucking regulations that will shape your semi-truck accident cases. Paul Galm has experience navigating not only the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, but dealing with the mechanical and engineering issues unique to big rig cases, from retrieval of a truck’s black box to familiarity with air brake systems. Paul has been handling commercial trucking accidents in Beaverton and Portland for over a decade.

What to look for to see if the truck driver was at fault? 

Approximately 5,000 people die in semi-truck accidents each year in the United States. Most of these victims are in passenger cars and pickup trucks and are struck by a big rig. Do you have the answers to the questions below? Contact a knowledgeable lawyer who can help you investigate.

1. Was the driver ill or tired? 

Part 392.3 of the FMCSA prohibits trucking companies from allowing drivers to operate a vehicle when tired or ill. There are strict hour limits on how much a driver can drive per day. Yet, trucking companies often pay drivers by the mile, which means that the more distance a driver travels, the larger the paycheck. This causes the drivers to stay behind the wheel far longer than is safe. Commercial drivers tend to set and meet very unreasonable deadlines, which eventually causes tiredness, fatigue and the loss of concentration that can lead to accidents.

2. Was the truck properly maintenanced? 

Poor maintenance practices include poor braking system, bald tires reducing traction on the road, malfunctioning engine and an unsafe trailer. The FMCSA has an extensive regulatory scheme that requires periodic maintenance, including brake checks prior to each trip, and requires every driver to pass certain tests regarding brakes.

3. Was the driver distracted? 

Talking on the phone and texting is forbidden under the nationwide ban on cell phone use by commercial drivers. Long hours on the road on I5 towards Beaverton and Portland leads to boredom, so big rig drivers seek ways to entertain themselves – either by radio, CB, music players or iPods. Whatever the form of diversion, it presents a problem and increases the danger for the rest of us on the road.

4. Was the driver trained and experienced? 

One of the top causes of big rig accidents according to the FMCSA is lack training. Too often, trucking companies will put rookie drivers on the road who either have little experience driving semi-trucks or are unfamiliar with the type of big rig they are driving. Less experienced drivers are less expensive for trucking companies. Although trucking companies save money this way, the hidden cost is the safety of the driving public.

Paul knows federal trucking regulations in Oregon inside and out and knows how to use those regulations to expose bad drivers and trucking companies who have violated the law.

Call today, skip the middle man, and talk directly with Paul. As a local, experienced lawyer, he has served the Portland and Beaverton communities for nearly 15 years. He will put your mind at ease and allow you to focus on getting better while he focuses on getting you just compensation.

The sorts of questions Paul can answer if you call him today include the following:

1.    Do I need an expert or specialist?

While specialists are not always needed, they sometimes are a huge help with trucking accident cases.  For example, black box or event data recorders (EDRs) are found on most commercial trucks and a great source of information.  But you have to act to get this information before it is lost.  Paul knows who to hire to preserve and extract this information if your case warrants it.

2.     What types of damages are available?

Damages may include medical costs, lost wages, loss future earning capacity, lost profits, loss of consortium, property damage and pain and suffering.  Also, in certain semi-truck accident cases, punitive damages may be available.  Punitive damages arise when the trucking company’s behavior was so reckless or indifferent to the safety of the public that punitive damages are appropriate as a deterrent to future transgressions.  For example, Paul handled one case where a truck company was knowingly putting trucks on the road with bad brakes.

3.    What makes filing Oregon truck cases so complicated?

The federal regulations.  Because semi-truck accidents are more likely to result in death, the U.S. government has gone to great lengths to regulate the commercial trucking industry.  But you need a semi-truck lawyer to navigate the maze of federal laws.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s laws are extensive, but a great place to start when trying to prove the negligence of a big rig in a trucking accident.  But you have to know where to look.

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Case Example:

A client was rear-ended by a semi-truck while stopped on the highway. The accident caused severe injuries forcing the client to retire because he was no longer able to physically handle the work. Paul engaged both a local trucking expert who was the former president of the state’s trucking association as well as a vocational economist expert to investigate the case.

It was discovered that both the company and driver violated several FMCSA regulations, including failure to properly maintain the truck, failure to train drivers and violation of daily driver hour limits. Ultimately, the case resolved with an undisclosed 6 figure settlement for the client.