Category Archives:

Introducing the newest member of our team – Attorney Don G. Johnson


Don was born and raised in Salem, Oregon, and after graduating from Sprague High School, he served a two-year service mission for his church in various parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Don graduated from Brigham Young University – Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in business management. During his time as an undergraduate student he took advantage of many opportunities, including working as a Google AdWords Account Manager and starting his own small business. Don’s love for people and his desire to help them compelled him to become an attorney. He attended Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon and was an active participant in Willamette’s Trust and Estate Clinical Law Program. Don’s practice and study are focused in the areas of family law, estate planning, and probate.

Don enjoys hiking and camping with his wife and three little ones. He enjoys playing basketball with his six brothers, cheering on the Trail Blazers, and eating ice cream.

Special standards apply in motorcycle accidents

Even under the best of circumstances, riding a motorcycle can be a dangerous proposition. Studies have shown that riding a motorcycle means that a person is more than 30 times as likely to die in an accident than if they are in a car.

While safety measures help, they are not a panacea. Under Oregon law, all motorcycle riders and their passengers are required to wear a helmet, and those helmets are required to meet federal motor vehicle safety standards. In addition, for the safety of riders, lane splitting is illegal in Oregon as well. Despite these measures, and given the fact that Portland’s soggy weather makes wet roads even more treacherous for riders, motorcycle accidents do take place frequently.

Add in the fact that despite a motorcyclist being as safe as possible, they must still share the road with car drivers, who can cause all kinds of accident problems due to drunk and distracted driving, a lack of motorcycle awareness, dangerous roads and a host of other conditions that challenge motorcycle riders on a daily basis.

When a motorcycle accident takes place involving another vehicle that is at fault, a rider is going to require the services of an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.

Although motorcycle accidents share many similarities with car accidents, there are some differences worth noting.

Just like a car accident, proving negligence on the part of the defendant is the key to winning a suit. But courts also take into consideration the added risks of riding a motorcycle and hold car drivers to a different standard when a motorcycle is involved.

They take into account that a driver must be more vigilant because there is much less stability and protection on a motorcycle than when driving a car. Courts also consider that motorcycle drivers face increased vulnerability to road hazards including road debris, poor drivers and other related factors.

When looking at negligence, courts will be favorable toward a motorcycle rider because they are required to have specialized skills to ride.

All of these standards combine to place the burden of vigilance more squarely on the shoulders of drivers when sharing the road with motorcycle riders.

Johnson & Taylor Law proudly serves Portland, Salem and surrounding Oregon communities.

There are many possible defendants in a truck accident case

The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the chances are for a catastrophic accident. That’s why big rig truck accidents are the most frightening and devastating types of accidents, not only in Portland, but on all of our nation’s roadways.

Overall, it’s been shown that truck drivers are less likely to be involved in an accident than automobiles. Still, in a typical year, more than 5,000 people will die in an accident involving a commercial truck, and another 100,000 people will suffer injuries. But the fact that a fully loaded rig can weigh more than 25 times as much as a typical car means that the sheer differences in weights when a car is involved will result in more serious injuries and fatalities.

When a person is involved in an accident with a truck resulting in injuries or death, the first thing an experienced truck accident attorney must do is determine if there is cause to compensate the victims for their losses. This compensation can take the form of payment for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related types of recovery.

If the circumstances warrant, then the attorney must identify potential defendants. While the driver of the truck is a natural possibility, the list of defendants may be much longer than that.

If the driver was using a rig that had safety issues that had not been addressed, then the company that owns the rig could be held liable as well. If a link can be shown between the driver and the company in other ways, and that the driver was acting in the course of the relationship between him and the company, a liability link may exist as well.

An accident that took place on a roadway that was under construction or was somehow shown to be unsafe may mean the government entity in charge of oversight of that roadway could be held liable too.

In some instances, the contents of a truck are hazardous, and the owners of the contents could be held liable as well.

Once the defendants are clearly identified, then the attorney must prove negligence existed on their part to be able to collect damages on behalf of the plaintiff.
Johnson & Taylor Law proudly serves Portland, Salem and surrounding Oregon communities.

What to look for when you want the best possible personal injury attorney

If you’re looking to retain the best possible personal injury attorney in the greater Portland area, there are several things you should take into consideration:

Experience. Personal injury law is a very specialized area of practice. Because of this, experience does count in comparison to other more general parts of the legal system. An experienced personal injury attorney is going to have a deep understanding of the role of negligence, causation, statutes of limitation and other areas that will be relevant to your situation. As part of your screening process, make sure you ask about similar cases that the attorney has handled, their success rate and if they have experience in the particular court system you want your case heard.

Reputation. Many times, a battle is won before it is even fought. An attorney with an outstanding reputation, or one who is known for aggressive fighting for their clients when dealing with insurance companies, health care providers and opposing attorneys may be able to gain advantages that can translate to a bigger settlement in a shorter amount of time.

Objectivity. Personal injury cases are often fraught with emotion, and an attorney who is able to cut through the volatile nature of things and focus on the facts will score big points in front of a judge, jury and opposing lawyers. That objectivity also means you’re more likely to get a get a full settlement as well, instead of an attorney who is just out for a quick payday.

Focus. It is in your best interests to find an attorney who focuses almost exclusively on personal injury cases. That focus means that their skills and mindset will be fully engaged when dealing with your case, and that they will be up-to-date regarding personal injury laws and cases.

Negotiation skills. Most all personal injury cases are settled before they go to trial. While a good attorney must be ready to go to trial, in the vast majority of instances, attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendant will end up negotiating a settlement. An attorney who is skilled in negotiating stands the best chance of winning a settlement that is the most favorable for their client.

Johnson & Taylor Law proudly serves Portland, Salem and surrounding Oregon communities.

A fatal crash may be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit

There are few things more upsetting in life than to lose a loved one in a fatal car accident. Whether the news is delivered by a loved one in a late night call, or by a member of the law enforcement community, there is no easy way to get through the initial pain and shock that surviving family members will go through.

While nothing can bring back a loved one, an attorney can help survivors get through the emotional and financial difficulties following such a traumatic event.

Where fault can be established, a wrongful death suit can hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. A wrongful death suit is a civil suit, and much different from a criminal case, in which the government will seek to punish the responsible party for their actions that have been deemed to be a crime. A good example of this is if someone kills another person while they are driving drunk.

In Portland, and throughout Oregon, there is a statute of limitations which states that a wrongful death suit must be filed within three years of the date of the injury that caused a person’s death. This means if a person is injured, but lingers for several weeks or months before passing away, the claim must be filed within three years from the time they were first injured.

While spouses and children normally are the recipients of wrongful death settlement compensation, awards can also be made to other family members such as parents, siblings and other relatives. Many times, if the deceased had a will in place, this will help determine how an award is made.

Compensation can take many forms:
• Medical bills and burial expenses.
• Lost wages. This can be difficult to determine and is usually based on an expert determining how much a person would have made for the balance of their lifetime.
• Pain and suffering.
• Loss of companionship.
• Punitive damages. Can be awarded in some cases where extreme negligence is proven.

Johnson & Taylor Law proudly serves Portland, Salem and surrounding Oregon communities.

The basics of child custody statutes in Oregon

In a divorce, one of the most contentious issues that family members and their attorneys face is who will have custody of the children and under what terms. To better understand what the process and outcome might be, here are some basic statutes that apply to custody cases in Salem and throughout the state of Oregon.

Mothers and fathers have equal rights. Under Oregon custody laws, both parents are viewed as having equal rights. What matters most to the courts is what is in the best interests of the child.

Legal custody gives one or both parents the rights to make decisions regarding how a child is raised, including what schools they will attend, what kind of medical care they will receive, and where they will live. A judge will order joint custody only if both parents agree to joint custody. In the event the parents cannot agree, the court must choose one parent to have sole legal custody of a child. Many factors are examined in deciding which parent will be awarded sole legal custody. Some factors include which parent has been the child’s primary caregiver, drug abuse or domestic violence history. The parent who is not awarded legal custody is known as the non-custodial parent.

Physical custody, or which parent a child lives with, is called parenting time. A parent who has more parenting time than the other parent is known as the primary physical custodian. In most Oregon counties, parents are required to go through mediation to come up with a parenting plan and to determine whether the parents agree to joint custody or one parent having sole custody. The parenting plan spells out custody, visitation rights, and other terms involved in raising a child.

If mediation is not successful, then a judge will make a custody decision and create a parenting plan in the best interests of the child. The judge will also determine how much child support one parent may be required to pay to the other parent.

Johnson & Taylor Law proudly serves Marion, Polk, Linn, Yamhill and other surrounding Oregon counties.

What you need to know about Oregon divorce laws

Unfortunately, many marriages end in divorce. In Oregon, there are certain requirements and procedures that a divorce lawyer can help you meet before the dissolution of a marriage can take place.

Generally, at least one of the parties must be living in Oregon and domiciled in Oregon for the six months preceding the filing of their Petition for Dissolution. In addition, Oregon is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that a divorce can be initiated by either party, for any reason, so long as the party alleges that there are “irreconcilable differences” which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage. Neither spouse is required to allege what those differences are.

Oregon is considered an “equitable distribution” state and that means marital property is divided equitably among the husband and wife. This does not mean an equal distribution, but instead what is considered “fair.” Divorcing couples are encouraged to come to an agreement as to the division of property and debt or they run the risk that the court will make those decisions for them.

When children are involved in a divorce, the courts will do everything to minimize the trauma on them and take actions that are deemed to be in the best interests of the child. Parents are encouraged to mediate out a parenting plan, but if they can’t reach an agreement, the courts will step in and make the decisions for them. Parenting plans spell out in great detail, the days each parent spends with the child, who makes what decisions regarding schooling and healthcare, and other related issues. In some instances, one parent will be required to pay alimony and/or child support to help meet the financial needs of the other parent and the child.

Johnson & Taylor Law proudly serves Marion, Polk, Linn, Yamhill and other surrounding counties.

Seeking damages as part of a personal injury case

When you or a loved one are involved in an accident that was caused by the negligence of another party, you may have the option to sue to recover damages. How much and what kind of damages all depends on the particular circumstances of your case. Another important factor is choosing the right Portland-based personal injury lawyer who can best represent your interests.

If your attorney is able to prove negligence, then they will be able to collect several different types of compensation on your behalf. That will include:

• A current loss of wages and compensation for the future loss of wages, which is especially important where a plaintiff’s injuries are permanent.

• Coverage for medical costs, including hospital and doctor visits, medical equipment and anything else related to the care required to restore you to your former health. This may also include payments for long-term care to assist a person with everyday tasks.

• Pain and suffering, which can lead to multi-million dollar settlements where injuries are extreme or a person dies.

• If a person dies, an attorney will also be able to seek funds for a loss of care, companionship and love.

• Disfigurement and embarrassment, if a person suffers injuries such as burns or has one or more limbs amputated, or the injury results in paralysis and confinement to a wheelchair.

To minimize the impacts on an insurance company, they may attempt to contact a victim and their attorney early in a case and seek a quick settlement. While this might look attractive on the surface, it could be an offer that is well below what you might be entitled to and play into the insurance company’s hands of trying to minimize the impact of a claim on their operations.

In all instances, it is best to let your attorney work with the opposing side to bring about a fair settlement, even if that involves playing hardball and extending the amount of time it takes to reach a settlement.

Johnson & Taylor Law proudly serves Portland, Salem and surrounding Oregon communities.

Understanding Oregon’s negligence laws

If you’re involved in any type of accident in Portland, Salem, or any area in Oregon, and you are seeking compensation for your injuries, lost wages, medical bills, or other damages, then you may need to understand how Oregon’s negligence laws work. If you are involved in an accident outside of Oregon, please give us a call to see if we can still work for you or whether it would be best to hire an attorney in another state.

Negligence is the fundamental legal concept at the heart of all types of accidents, injuries and wrongful death cases. It basically states that in order to collect damages from another party, it must be shown that their actions caused you injury through actions that were not up to a reasonable standard of care.

In some states, contributory negligence means that if a plaintiff is shown to have had any type of fault for the accident, they are barred from collecting any damages in a case. Many states, including Oregon, have moved away from this extreme form of proof to a more reasonable form called modified comparative negligence.

Comparative negligence means that the defendant in a case is only held liable for the percentage of the case they are responsible for. This means if a plaintiff is seeking $1 million, but a jury decides the defendant was only 60% responsible for the injuries a plaintiff incurred, then only $600,000 will be awarded.

Modified comparative negligence means that a plaintiff can only recover damages if it is proved that they are found 50% or less at fault in an accident. If a jury decides that a plaintiff is 51% or more responsible for an accident, then they will not be eligible to collect damages.

Modified comparative negligence is based on the concept that if a person is primarily responsible for their own injuries, then they should not be entitled to any compensation, even if someone else was partly responsible for them being injured.

This means that how a jury apportions blame can have a huge impact on an accident case. In cases where there is more than one defendant, the jury must also decide how much each defendant is responsible. In some instances, a jury may be swayed by the amount of the award in question, and that will have an influence on how much percentage they assign to each party.

If you have questions about an injury accident, feel free to call to talk with a personal injury attorney right away!

Johnson and Taylor proudly serves Portland, Salem and surrounding Oregon communities.

The basic steps involved in a personal injury case

There are many ways a person can suffer an injury through the negligence of someone else. It may involve a slip and fall, a car accident, the use of an unsafe product, or dozens of other ways. Regardless of the circumstances, the process of using our attorneys to help you recover damages usually follows the same general steps.

Initial meeting with an attorney. In an initial consultation with our injury lawyer, we will go over the facts of the incident, what type of medical treatment you received, who was a witness, what contact you have had with insurance companies and healthcare providers, were police involved, followed by an overview of your legal options.

Settlement demands. Before trying to settle with the insurance company, we help you to receive the necessary medical treatment. We work to get the applicable insurance company to pay for any vehicle damages, any wage loss, and medical bills. Once your medical care is complete, we gather all medical records, bills, and other evidence. We then make a settlement demand to the insurance carrier. If the insurance company is willing to be reasonable, then you might decide to settle your claim. If the insurance company is not willing to make a settlement offer that you find to be reasonable, then we will ask you to meet with us to discuss the risks, costs, and timeline associated with filing a lawsuit.

Filing court papers. The first thing our injury lawyer will do is file a complaint with the court, outlining the case against the defendant. This sets the legal framework for the case, including the basis for the filing, facts of the case, and a demand for relief, stating that damages are being sought. The paperwork will be served to the defendant, which will basically require them to respond to the complaint.

Discovery. This is the phase that allows both sides to delve deeper into the facts of the case and may involve depositions and the exchange of documents related to the case.

Motions. Based on discovery, some lawyers will seek to have a case dismissed or certain evidence dismissed for a variety of reasons. It will be up to the judge to decide which motions are valid and which ones are not.

Settlement. Before a trial, there may be attempts to settle the case in a manner deemed acceptable to both parties. If one party has a stronger case than the other, this may be the best course of action to avoid the emotional stress and trauma associated with going to trial.

Trial. Although most cases are settled, some do go to trial. This will involve selecting a jury, opening statements, testimony by witnesses, cross-examination of witnesses, closing arguments, and deliberations by a jury.

Collecting a judgment. If you win your case, you are entitled to collect a judgment, but sometimes we will need to continue to work hard to recover what you’re due.

Appeals. After a trial has been decided, one side or the other may decide to appeal the decision, basically setting into play a new set of legal actions to take place.

Johnson and Taylor proudly serves Portland, Salem and surrounding Oregon communities.