2013 – Truck Accident
The defendant truck driver was operating an 18-wheeler on 295 outside of Portland. Our client had slowed in traffic just over a small ridge that partially obscured his vehicle from the truck driver. As the truck driver came up over the rise, he claims he began to brake immediately upon seeing that the traffic had slowed to a near stop ahead. He further claimed that he was operating his truck at or below the speed limit at the point in time that he applied his brakes. After locking up his brakes, the truck continued at a significant rate of speed and collided with our client’s vehicle, crushing the back end in. The force of the collision was so great that our client’s seat broke.
Because the truck driver claimed that the accident was unavoidable due to the road conditions and the lack of notice of the traffic ahead, we hired an expert accident reconstructionist to determine whether the accident was, in fact, unavoidable. Our expert proceeded to take pictures and measurements of the accident scene, as well as the damage to the vehicles. Of critical importance to this case was the fact that our firm was contacted immediately after the accident and we were able to have our expert obtain photographs of the skid marks on the road and measure those skid marks. Accident reconstructionists are able to determine from the length of the skid marks, the weight and type of vehicle that caused the collision, the damage to the vehicles, and various other factors what the speed of a vehicle was at the point in time that the vehicle’s brakes are applied initially. Because delays in investigating accidents frequently result in critical evidence being irretrievably lost, it was fortunate that we were able to obtain good quality photographs of the skid marks, accurate measurements of the distance of the skid marks, as well as photographs of the road surface conditions—evidence that would have been lost if our client had not contacted us early on and enabled us to begin our investigation.
Through the timely investigation and reconstruction of the accident, we were able to establish that the truck driver was, in fact, speeding at the point in time that he noticed the traffic slowing ahead and applied his brakes. Of equal importance, we were able to establish that, had the truck driver been operating at the speed limit, his truck would have stopped approximately 9 feet behind our vehicle and the accident would have been avoided.
Because the insurance company hired its own expert who arrived at a very different conclusion (that the truck driver was not speeding at the point in time the brakes were applied), we took our investigation even further and had the brakes and tires inspected on the truck. Although the tires were in relatively good condition, the brakes on the back set of wheels were in need of repair. We used another expert to establish that properly functioning brakes would have reduced the stopping distance of the truck. Although the difference was not considerable, it made the difference between whether there would have been a collision or not.
Yet another piece of important evidence we were able to obtain was the GPS tracking records used by the trucking company to monitor the speed of its vehicles. Although the tracking records did not show the speed of the truck immediately before the collision, it did show that this particular trucker had a history of consistently driving over the speed limit in that section of 295. While that evidence might have not been admissible in court, it was very helpful in persuading the insurance company that the truck driver was speeding at the time of the accident.
Ultimately all of this evidence persuaded the insurance company to offer four times what it claimed was the “maximum amount” it was willing to pay to resolve the matter. Our client was very pleased with the resolution of the case.