Oregon Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims

Physical recovery is your immediate priority following a personal injury. However, it’s also important to gain an understanding of the legal landscape at this crucial time.

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    Oregon’s statute of limitations sets a definitive time frame within which an injured person must file a lawsuit to seek compensation for the harm they’ve suffered. Missing this deadline can slam the door on justice, leaving you without recourse for medical bills, lost wages, and the lasting effects of your harm.

    This article offers key insights from the seasoned Portland personal injury lawyer at Newlin Law Offices, delving into the intricacies of Oregon’s personal injury statute of limitations to equip you with the knowledge to protect your rights and pursue just compensation.

    What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Oregon?

    The statute of limitations for personal injury refers to the period within which an injured party must initiate legal proceedings to seek damages for the harm they’ve suffered. Per ORS 12.110(1), the statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits is two years.

    This means that the injured party has a two-year window to settle the claim or file a lawsuit from the date of the injury or the date that the injury was — or should have been — discovered.

    This timeline is vital, as it dictates the urgency with which victims must act to preserve their legal rights.

    What If You Miss the Deadline?

    In the unfortunate event that you miss the statute of limitations deadline for a personal injury claim in Oregon, the legal ramifications can be stark.

    Failing to file a lawsuit within the prescribed two-year window voids your legal right to pursue compensation from the responsible party. Consequently, the court will likely dismiss your case, regardless of the severity of your injuries or the demonstrable negligence of the other party.

    While the two-year timeframe serves as a general rule, it’s worth noting that there may be exceptions under certain circumstances.

    Don’t Pursue Your Injury Claim Alone

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    Can Oregon’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Be Extended?

    There are specific circumstances under which Oregon’s standard statute of limitations for personal injury cases can be extended beyond the usual two-year period. These exceptions address situations where allowing more time for filing a lawsuit is justifiable.

    Wrongful Death Claims

    A different time frame applies to cases involving wrongful death claims. In these instances, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate has three years from the date of death to file a lawsuit against the responsible party.

    This differs from the standard two-year period for individual personal injury claims in two crucial ways:

    1. The countdown starts from the date of death rather than the date of the initial injury that led to the fatality.
    2. The extended statute provides additional time for grieving family members to deal with the emotional effects of their loss and gather necessary evidence before initiating legal proceedings.

    Even within the longer three-year window, prompt action is recommended.

    Personal Injury Cases Involving Minors

    When a minor sustains an injury in Oregon, the law affords them an extended time frame to initiate legal action. This exception grants the injured party the right to file a lawsuit until one year after their 18th birthday, effectively protracting the standard two-year period by up to five years.

    Again, seeking legal guidance early is wise, as doing so can strengthen the case and ensure access to critical evidence.

    Lawsuits Against Government Entities

    Unlike standard personal injury cases, filing a lawsuit against a public body or official necessitates the submission of a tort claims notice within 180 days of the injury.

    If you fail to file the notice promptly, you forfeit your right to sue the government entity, even within the standard two-year period. As such, swift action becomes necessary. Consult a qualified personal injury attorney immediately after your injury to make sure your notice gets filed on time and maximize your chances of securing fair and adequate compensation.

    The Discovery Rule

    Oregon’s so-called “discovery rule” offers vital additional time for legal action. This rule applies when the injured party doesn’t (and couldn’t with reasonable diligence) discover the full extent of their injury within the standard two-year period.

    Imagine a medical misdiagnosis that results in the delayed diagnosis of a serious illness. In this situation, the two-year clock wouldn’t start ticking until the true diagnosis is made, potentially lengthening the timeframe for seeking legal redress against the negligent physician.

    This applies to various scenarios, including cases involving exposure to toxins, latent medical conditions, or psychological trauma that manifests later.

    Oregon’s Modified Comparative Negligence Rule

    Oregon operates on a modified comparative negligence system, which is a pivotal legal doctrine in personal injury cases. This rule allows for the allocation of fault among all parties involved in an accident.

    Under this framework, each party’s level of responsibility is assessed and assigned a percentage of fault. A plaintiff’s compensation is then reduced by their percentage of fault. If the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, they’re automatically ineligible to recover any damages.

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