Oregon State Trucking Laws
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) enforces Oregon trucking law. Except for a few key differences, Oregon trucking law follows federal standards, requiring that truck drivers be properly trained and tested, and trucking companies inspect and repair all vehicles and adequately train and hire employees. The text of Oregon trucking laws and regulations can be found on the ODOT website.
Oregon has additional requirements and regulations that the federal rules have not adopted.
- Truck drivers in intrastate commerce only have to be 18 years old compared to 21 years old.
- While in intrastate commerce, a driver may drive an additional hour on the road per day.
- Drivers are able to drive a total of 10 more hours per week.
- There are specific weight and size limits that require special permits.
- Drivers are not allowed to operate their vehicles while communicating on a cell phone.
- Drivers may only use hands-free communication devices.
- Chains or snow tires are required in inclement weather.
In Oregon courts punitive damages must be proven by “clear and convincing evidence,” and defendants must have “acted with malice or ha[ve] shown a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and ha[ve] acted with a conscious indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others.” ORS 31.730.
Oregon plaintiffs receive just 30% of any punitive damages award, with the remaining 60% paid to 50% the Oregon Department of Justice’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Account and 10% to the Attorney General for deposit in the State Court Facilities and Security Account. ORS 31.735(1)(a)-(b). No more than 20% of a punitive damage award may go to the plaintiff’s attorney. ORS 31.735(1)(a).
Early after a truck injury accident, the attorney for an injured victim must identify and notify potential defendants. This is important because sometimes state or local statutes will bar a lawsuit if certain classes of defendants are not given prior written notice. For example, The Oregon Tort Claims Act (OTCA) requires written notice of an intent to file a claim for damages within 180 days of the accident. Notice must be sent by certified mail and contain the following information:
- Time, place, and circumstances of event
- Description of the claim for damages
- Contact information of the claimant and defendant.
Oregon law places limits on claims against public bodies (state and local/municipality government entities) subject to the OTCA, which caps claims against Oregon public bodies at $633,300 for any single claimant.
When a truck has crossed between at least two different states over the course of its journey, it affects interstate commerce, and federal law is applied to the truck, driver, or company. However, a truck does not have to be a “part” of interstate commerce to affect interstate commerce. For example, if a truck accident occurs on a federal roadway, such as Interstate-5 in Oregon, that truck is considered in interstate commerce because it affects the stream of interstate commerce between states.
If a truck is transporting goods within a state or is not in interstate commerce, it is in intrastate commerce, and state laws and regulations apply. An example would be using a state highway over the mountains to transport goods from Bend to Salem. For more information regarding the difference between interstate and intrastate commerce in trucking law, visit the ODOT website.
Trucks weigh 80,000 pounds compared to cars at a mere 3,000 pounds. Any mistake can result in catastrophe, especially for those driving smaller vehicles. For example, the August 19, 2013 crash that claimed the life of one motorist and injured another when a loaded log truck eastbound on Highway 20 west of Tollgate 19 in northeast Oregon failed to negotiate a right curve, causing the trailer to roll onto its side, spilling logs off the trailer onto the highway, striking the two vehicles.
It is much easier to determine someone is negligent if they clearly violated the law, and only an experienced attorney knows how to prove that someone else’s negligence was the reason for an accident. It is important that you contact an attorney immediately if you have an injury, lost property, or experienced the loss of a loved one due to a truck accident. Only then will you get the compensation you deserve.