In a personal injury case, you are alleging that the negligence or deliberate actions of another person caused you harm. Gathering evidence and negotiating a settlement—or going to trial—can be a lengthy ordeal. A lawyer can help you navigate Oregon's personal injury statutes and prepare for trial.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
Oregon's statute of limitations for personal injury cases is generally two years. But if your claim is against the state or local government, or a government employee, you must file an official notice of your intent to sue within just 180 days. In a few specific circumstances you might have a longer time to file your claim, but it is a good idea to talk with a lawyer right away to be sure you do not miss your deadline.
What Types of Damages Are Awarded?
Depending on the facts of your case, you may be eligible for both economic and non-economic damages. Medical expenses and lost wages are the most common types of economic damages. If you need continuing medical care or cannot return to your previous job, damages can include an estimate of future losses.
Non-economic losses include emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium (loss of the benefits of a family relationship). The state caps the amount you can receive in non-economic damages at $500,000 in most cases. There is generally no limit on economic damages.
What Does Comparative Fault Mean?
State laws limit your ability to recover damages if you bear some responsibility for the incident. You may claim damages from another person only if your degree of fault was "not greater than the combined fault of all persons" legally liable for the incident. Any damages you do receive will be lowered based on your degree of fault.
How Does the Discovery Process Work?
The pre-trial discovery process is used to uncover and discover the real facts of the case. The different avenues to explore during discovery include:
- Depositions: oral interviews, conducted under oath, with lawyers present. All parties named in the case as well as witnesses may be deposed
- Interrogatories: written questions answered under oath
- Requests for documents: requests for evidence such as photos or medical records that may support or refute a party's case.
The defense may also request that you be examined by one of its doctors to verify your injuries.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, the mediator, helps the two sides in a lawsuit communicate with each other to resolve any sticking points in their negotiations. The mediator does not have the power to make decisions for either side and resolutions are usually nonbinding.
Can I Afford a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Yes. Even if you are not working, you will be able to hire a lawyer because most will not charge you any upfront costs. Most personal injury attorneys collect their fees when you get your award. This arrangement is called a contingency fee. If your case goes to trial and you lose, you do not owe the lawyer a fee. You may still need to pay court filing fees and other miscellaneous charges.
When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Attorney in Oregon?
The information presented here is only a brief overview of personal injury laws in Oregon. Although you may be able to handle a small case on your own, getting specific legal advice from a lawyer can still be helpful. If your losses are large, or you believe the insurance company is not negotiating in good faith, an experienced Oregon personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.