A few days ago I wrote about the importance of access to our courts and the myth that Oregon personal injury lawsuits are frivolous actions designed to clog up the legal system and undercut the business community. A case settled earlier this month in the southern part of our state illustrates my point perfectly. Through a settlement announced just before Christmas a severely injured motorist has used the legal system to achieve accountability from those responsible for his suffering and, in the process, to see justice done.
According to an account by the Associated Press, the victim of a horrific Oregon car-truck accident a year ago in Central Point will receive a $1.4 million payment to account for the injuries and trauma he suffered when “a trailer detached from the rig that was pulling it and slammed into his Chevy Silverado, flattening it and trapping him inside.”
Trapped in the wreckage for an hour-and-a-half the pick-up’s driver was badly injured. Upon finally reaching a hospital “he was treated for a broken neck, spinal fluid leakage… and (multiple) fractures… as well as nerve damage in his right arm and wrist,” the news agency reports. His suit against the truck driver and the driver’s employer alleged that the truck was operating recklessly at the time of the Oregon truck crash and that the vehicle had not been properly maintained.
The sum of the settlement may look large on paper, but much of it is earmarked for paying existing medical bills and covering future medical treatment the victim will require. This, too, flies in the face of the popular perception of Oregon car and truck accident lawsuits: this action was, first and foremost, about ensuring that the victim was made whole to the extent that doing so is possible.
We can all applaud the fact that justice was eventually done in this case, even as we acknowledge that this degree of accountability should not have taken a year to achieve. This case serves as a reminder of the important role that Portland car and truck crash attorneys and other Oregon personal injury lawyers play in our legal system: helping average citizens to have their day in court and earn the justice to which they are entitled. It is also a pointed reminder that access to the courts cannot be taken for granted, and that skilled legal representation is often the essential first step victims need to take to ensure that their rights are protected.
AP via Salem Statesman-Journal: Southern Oregon motorist settles lawsuit against trucking company