If you or your loved one were seriously injured in an accident, it will not take long to realize that you need to start looking for means to pay for your losses. If someone else was at fault for your injuries, Oregon laws provide a way for you to seek financial recovery from the liable party.
The personal injury team at Willis & Toews is passionate about helping Oregonians get the settlement awards they deserve when someone has caused them undue harm. Contact us today at 509-529-0908 to see how we can help you.
How do I prove negligence?
If you want to pursue a claim for damages, you need to prove the other party’s negligence. To do so, you must establish these four elements.
- Duty of care: The defendant owed you a duty of care, e.g., a property owner must maintain safe premises.
- Breach of duty of care: The defendant breached that duty, e.g., the property owner did not replace a broken handrail.
- Cause: The defendant’s negligence caused your injury, e.g., the handrail broke and you fell down the stairs, breaking your arm.
- Damages: The injury caused you damages like medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.
What damages can I collect?
You may collect damages for your economic losses and expenses, as well as other damages.
- Special damages: These are your economic damages like medical bills, lost wages, etc.
- General damages: These are your non-economic damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, effect of injuries on personal relationships, and more.
- Punitive damages: While uncommon, courts use these damages to punish the at-fault party for malicious intent and discourage further wrongdoing.
Keep in mind also that Oregon may have limits on the amount of compensation you can receive.
- For noneconomic damages, your compensation cannot exceed $500,000 [Or. Rev. Stat. § 31.710]. However, the Oregon Supreme Court found limits on damages in common law cases, which includes many personal injury cases, to be unconstitutional.
- For claims against the state between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015:
- For a single claimant, the limit is $2 million.
- For all claimants, $4 million.
- For claims against the state after July 1, 2015, the cap is based on the cost of living increase or decrease over the previous year.
An insurance adjuster may try to argue that your claim for damages is much higher than you deserve and may give you a low-ball settlement offer. Be sure to have a lawyer at Willis & Toews go over any offers before you sign. If not, you could be missing out on a substantial recovery.
What other Oregon personal injury laws can affect my claim?
Statute of limitations: Be sure to act fast when pursuing a claim; Oregon’s general statute of limitations on personal injury cases is two years [Or. Rev. Stat. § 12.110(1)]. There are also many exceptions that may shorten the 2 year limitations period. Therefore, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after an injury to discuss what limitations period specifically applies to your claim. If you attempt to pursue a claim after the relevant statute of limitations is up, your claim may be barred. That is, you may not be able to make a claim.
Comparative negligence: Oregon is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that even if you are partially at fault for your injuries, you may still collect damages as long as you are less than 51 percent responsible [Or. Rev. Stat. § 31.600(1)].
Insurance: Drivers are required to carry car insurance in the State of Oregon. If you are driving a car without insurance at the time of the collision, you may only recover economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, from the other driver. You may not obtain non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. The only exception is for those drivers who were insured within 180 days of the collision and can prove they had not driven uninsured for 1 year prior to the lapse in coverage.
What are my first steps to pursue a claim or lawsuit in Oregon?
If someone else was at fault for your accident, your first objective after tending to your immediate medical needs will be to speak to an attorney. Willis & Toews will review the specifics of your accident and determine if you qualify to file a claim or suit. After determining liability, we will speak with insurers, help you collect evidence, file a claim, and then walk you through the necessary legal steps until your case resolves and you receive your settlement check.
We serve residents in all areas of Oregon State including Pendleton, Milton-Freewater, Hermiston, Weston, and Athena. Call us today at 509-529-0908 for a free consultation.