Oregon Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules

If you've been injured in an accident in Oregon, make sure you understand these rules before you start your personal injury case.

If you’re involved in an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit in Oregon, a few key state laws may come into play at some point in your case. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at Oregon personal injury laws.

Time Limits on Personal Injury Lawsuits in Oregon

All states have enacted limits on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in court after suffering some type of harm. There are different deadlines depending on what type of case you want to file, but in general this kind of law is called a statute of limitations.

In Oregon, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases gives an injured person two years from the date of the injury to go to civil court and file a lawsuit. (Ore. Rev. Stat. section 12.110(1)).

It is very important to understand and follow this rule. That’s because if you fail to get your lawsuit filed before the two-year window closes, the Oregon civil court system will likely refuse to hear your case at any time in the future, and your right to compensation will be lost. 

Oregon Shared Fault Rules

In some personal cases, the person or business that you are filing a claim against could argue that you are actually to blame (at least partially) for the incident that led to your injuries.

If you do share some degree of liability, it can end up affecting the total amount of compensation you can receive from other at-fault parties.

In shared fault injury cases like these, Oregon follows a “modified comparative negligence rule.” To put this rule in the simplest of terms, it means that the amount of compensation you're entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault. But if you’re found to bear more than 50 percent of the legal blame, you can’t collect anything at all from other at-fault parties.

So, let’s say you’re rear-ended at a stoplight, but one of your brake lights wasn’t working at the time of the accident. During a civil trial, the jury decides that you were 10 percent at fault for the accident, while the other driver was 90 percent to blame. Your damages -- medical bills, vehicle repair costs, etc. -- add up to $20,000. How does your share of the fault affect your compensation? Under Oregon's modified comparative negligence rule, your compensation will be reduced to $18,000 (or the $20,000 total minus the $2,000 that represents your share of fault for the accident.)

Oregon courts are obligated to follow this rule in an injury lawsuit that makes it to trial, and don't be surprised if the other side’s insurance adjuster raises the issue of Oregon’s comparative negligence rule during settlement talks.

Owner Liability For Injury by a Dog or Other Animal

There is no specific statute in Oregon governing personal injury liability for dog bites. Owners will be held liable for injuries caused by their dog (or other animal) if the injured party can show that the owner “should have known” the animal was dangerous. This is known as the “one bite” rule.

Caps on Injury Damages in Oregon

Like a number of other states, Oregon has placed some limits on the types of damages that an injured person can receive in civil court after a successful personal injury trial.

In Oregon, in wrongful death cases only (not in other standard personal injury cases) there is a $500,000 limit on non-economic damages (such as compensation that is awarded for pain and suffering). Remember, this cap does not apply to all personal injury cases, just wrongful death claims.

Also, for injury claims against the state government, the Oregon Tort Claims Act limits the amount of compensation an injured person can receive. The size of the cap depends on when the injury occurred. For example, claims for injuries that occur between 7/1/2012 and 7/1/2013 are capped at $1.8 million. And if the injury occurs between 7/1/2014 and 7/1/2015, the cap is $4 million. You’ll find a schedule listing of all the caps at Ore. Rev. Stat. section 30.271.   

Injury Claims Against the Government in Oregon

If your injury was caused by the negligence of an employee or agency of the Oregon government (at the state level), you’ll need to play by a different set of rules if you want to be compensated for your losses.

An injury claim against the Oregon government must be filed within 180 days of the injury (not the two-year limit that applies to standard injury lawsuits) three years of the injury, according to Ore. Rev. Stat. section 30.275.

If you're making an injury claim against a city, county, state, or even Federal government, see our Injury Claims Against the Government topic area.

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