Truck drivers in Oregon—like drivers across the country—are put under immense pressure to transport their freight on time. The result is that many truck drivers take stimulants to stay awake, push their limits in terms of how long they stay on the road, and sometimes even break speed limits to improve travel time.
According to KATU, Oregon Highway Patrol officers have caught truck drivers speeding and driving in the wrong lane. While it is bad enough when drivers break these laws, truck drivers often put innocent people at great risk when they violate the law, especially given that drivers are sitting behind the wheel of 35 ton vehicles.
Because of a truck’s sheer size, drivers inside other vehicles often face more serious, life-altering injuries when they get into accidents involving trucks. These injuries can be costly and place a great burden on victims and families. Large truck companies and drivers often have lawyers fighting to protect their bottom lines. For those who have been injured in an accident with a truck in Portland, Oregon, an experienced truck accident law firm like The Law Office of Douglas Green can ensure that innocent drivers aren’t taken advantage of when fighting truck operators and companies for compensation for their injuries.
Truck accidents result in over 4,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. According to the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, trucks make up only 8% of the total vehicles on the road and are yet responsible for 11% of fatal accidents. The researchers found that when more trucks were on the road, the crashes that took place were more severe. When the truck volume increased, the severity of accidents likewise increased. Even an increase in truck volume as small as one percent resulted in a disproportionate increase in severe crash probabilities. Speeding was also found to be a factor in crash severity.
According to KATU, in Oregon, since 2009, the number of truck crashes taking place has increased. Oregon state inspectors found 6,000 truck drivers in violation of falsifying logbooks. This only makes it more likely that drivers are on the road while fatigued. Driving while fatigued has been found to be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. Federal hours of service regulations have been put in place to require drivers to get the rest that they need. However, if drivers are falsifying logbooks, they are clearly not getting the rest that the Federal government requires them to have.
According to one lawyer’s legal report, more personal injury cases involving trucks cite driver fatigue as a cause for the accident. Yet, for personal injury cases, determining driver fatigue can often be difficult. For drivers who have suffered serious injuries due a driver’s negligence, determining fatigue can sometimes mean the difference between paid hospital bills and rehabilitation expenses and victims having to shoulder the immense burden of these bills themselves. When truck companies and drivers are responsible for accidents, victims have the right to receive justice and compensation.
Sadly, truck companies often work hard to distance themselves from drivers, often by hiring them as independent contractors. Victims who sue the truck company which may have the money to pay for the accident may find that the company claims no negligence, placing all the blame on the driver who may not have the resources to pay for the victim’s injuries. While there are federal laws in place to void these tactics, many victims may find themselves scared off from lengthy and costly litigation.
Drivers may also not always be aware of how tired they are. Just as drunk drivers may not be aware of their level of inebriation, drivers may not always be aware of how much their exhaustion is affecting the decisions they make on the road.
So, how is driver fatigue proven in court? Often, the accident report may offer clues about whether the driver may have been tired. The time when the accident took place should be considered and the driver’s logbooks can be closely evaluated. Logbooks can help personal injury lawyers reconstruct where a driver was before the accident and can better help the lawyer determine if the driver broke the law. Even if a logbook is falsified, times when freight was delivered or picked up can be a good indication of whether the driver was in compliance of the law.
Driver fatigue can often be difficult to establish, but a skilled truck accident lawyer in Portland, Oregon can often review relevant facts to determine whether fatigue was a factor. While litigation can take time and energy, holding truck drivers and companies accountable for their actions increases the safety of roads and establishes clear consequences for those who break the law. Visit the Law Firm of Douglas Green at www.douglasgreenattorney.com or call 503.935.5450 today.