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Understanding the Oregon Statute of Limitations and Your Personal Injury Case

Understanding the Oregon Statute of Limitations and Your Personal Injury Case

All states set deadlines for filing personal injury cases. The deadlines are known as statutes of limitations, and they can vary by state. If the Oregon statute of limitations expires in your personal injury case, you lose the right to pursue a legal claim against the party who caused your injury. 

Why Does Oregon Limit the Time To File Personal Injury Lawsuits?

It seems unfair to set deadlines for filing lawsuits when someone causes another person injury or harm because of negligence or intentional torts. However, there are statutes of limitations for personal injury claims, other civil lawsuits, and criminal charges. The reasons Oregon imposes a statute of limitations for legal matters include:

  • Preventing parties from using the legal system to harass someone for matters that happened years or decades ago.
  • Encouraging parties to seek a prompt resolution of legal disputes.
  • Ensuring parties have access to the best possible evidence to prove their case.
  • Preventing backups in the courts by ensuring the timely filing of lawsuits.

Understanding the Oregon statute of limitations that applies to your personal injury case is crucial. There are different deadlines for filing personal injury claims based on the type of claim, the parties involved in the case, and other factors. 

It is always best to talk with an Oregon personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an injury or accident. An experienced injury lawyer can calculate the deadline for filing a claim based on your case’s specific facts and circumstances. 

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

The Oregon statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years from the injury or accident date. The two-year deadline applies in most cases, including slip and fall accidents, car accidents, dog bites, medical malpractice, and premises liability claims. However, there are exceptions to the general two-year statute of limitations for some personal injury claims. 

Wrongful Death Claims in Oregon

A wrongful death occurs when a party causes the untimely death of a person because of intentional torts, negligence, or other wrongdoing. Family members can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for damages and losses caused by their loved one’s passing.

The statute of limitations for most wrongful death cases in Oregon is three years from the person’s date of death. It is important to note that a person could be injured several days, weeks, or months before they die. The statute of limitations begins on their date of death instead of the date of injury.

Personal Injury Cases Involving Minors Under 18 Years Old

A minor does not have the legal capacity to file a personal injury lawsuit. The parent or legal guardian of the child can typically file the lawsuit on behalf of the child. However, they are not required to file a claim or lawsuit by law.

Therefore, to protect the child’s rights, the law extends the statute of limitations for most cases involving injury to a child. Typically,  the statute of limitations for a minor is extended by five years or one year after their 18th birthday, which date is earlier. 

However, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, the deadline to file claims against government entities is not extended, even when the victim is a minor. 

Deadlines for Filing Lawsuits Against Government Entities in Oregon

Most government entities are protected by sovereign immunity. It protects governments from being sued without their permission. Oregon has enacted laws that allow injured parties to sue a government entity, their employees, and their agents for negligence causing injury.

However, there is a significant difference when dealing with this type of personal injury case.

In most cases, personal injury lawsuits against the government in Oregon must be filed within two years after the injury or accident. However, there is an additional deadline you must meet.

You must file a notice of claim with the government agency within 180 days of the injury to preserve your right to file a lawsuit. The notice of claim must meet very strict requirements for form and service. The notice of claim deadline in wrongful death claims is one year from the date of death. 

What Happens if I Don’t Know About an Injury Until After the Statute of Limitations Expires?

In some personal injury cases, the discovery rule might apply. Using the discovery rule, the statute of limitations for filing a claim is two years from the date when:

  • You discovered that you sustained an injury because of an accident or other incident; OR,
  • The date you should have discovered the injury using reasonable care.

The discovery rule is complicated and can be difficult to apply. However, it is always worth discussing your case with an Oregon personal injury lawyer, even if the injury occurred more than two years ago. The discovery rule could apply in your case.

Claims Involving Individuals Who Flee the State

There is also an exception for people who flee Oregon, leave the state, or try to conceal themselves so they cannot be served with a lawsuit. The statute of limitations is tolled (paused) until the person returns to the state or no longer conceals themselves. The person must leave the state or conceal themselves after the claim arises but before a lawsuit is filed. 

As with the discovery rule, this exception to the Oregon statute of limitations can be complicated to pursue. Therefore, talk with a lawyer as soon as possible about your case to determine the steps you must take to protect your legal rights. 

Why Is It Important To Understand the Oregon Statute of Limitations?

When another party causes you injury or harm, you can seek compensation for your injuries and damages under Oregon tort laws. You could receive compensation for your economic damages, including out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and medical bills. You can also recover compensation for your non-economic damages or “pain and suffering” damages. 

However, if the statute of limitations expires, you lose your legal right to hold the party financially responsible for your damages. In other words, you do not have a legal claim against the party.

Therefore, you want to take quick action to file personal injury claims so that you can receive fair compensation for damages you sustained because of another person’s wrongful acts. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Portland Personal Injury Lawyers

Do not lose your right to file a personal injury lawsuit by waiting too long to talk with a lawyer about your case. Contact our law office now at (503) 272-8986 for a free consultation with one of our experienced Portland personal injury lawyers at Tillmann Law LLC. We are here to help you get the money you deserve for damages caused by an accident or personal injury.