The state of Oregon has both big, cosmopolitan cities and many beautiful, natural rural areas that making driving this state a pleasure. But car accidents happen here as in all states. Whether you have a serious fender bender near Crater Lake or a major rear end accident in Portland, you will need information about the car accident laws, statistics and resources in the Beaver State.
Statistics and Notable Settlements
Oregon has a population as of 2016 of 4,093,000, with 37,492 million miles traveled for that year, and 12.1 auto accident deaths per 100,000 population; the national average that year was 11.6 deaths per 100,000. Below is information about accident statistics for Oregon from 2015, according data released by the state government on May 20, 2017, including the percent of change from the prior year:
- Fatal motor vehicle accidents: 410; 27.73%
- Non-fatal motor vehicle injury accidents: 28,721; 18.65%
- Property damage only accidents: 26,025; -2.59%
- Total accidents: 55,156; 7.63%
- Fatality rate: 1.24; 20.18%
- Fatal and serious injury rate: 6.17; 15.41%
- Serious injury rate: 4.94%; 14.28%
- Number of accidents involving bicycles: 960; -4.10%
- Pedestrians: 917; 3%
- Motorcycles: 1090; 11%
- School buses: 160; 14.29%
- Tractor trailers: 2174; 1.4%
The state government also noted there were 445 persons killed in motor vehicle accidents in Oregon in 2015, which was a 25% increase from the year before. There also were 41,754 people killed, a 19% increase from the year before.
According to state government statistics, the top 10 reasons for motor vehicle accidents in 2015 were:
- Failure to avoid parked or stopped vehicle ahead
- Failure to yield right of way
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Not maintaining lane
- Following too closely
- Improper lane change
- Not decreasing speed for a slower vehicle
- Driver inattention
- Disregarding red light or traffic signal
- Left turn in front of traffic
The highest number of Oregon auto accidents occur in Multnomah County. Of the 13,700 accidents that happened in that county in 2012, 44 died and 9580 were hurt. This means 4000 accidents involved only property damage. Washington County was the next in line in number of accidents that year with 6700 crashes, 19 deaths and 5172 injuries. Clackamas County was third with 4461 crashes, 20 deaths and 3456 injuries. The lowest number of car accidents was in Wheeler County with only 20 crashes, one death, and eight injuries.
Portland is the largest city in Oregon, and naturally has the highest number of accidents per capita. In 2012, there were 11,685 accidents in the city, with 7956 injuries and 32 deaths. The accident rate has risen in Portland from 2008 to 2012; there were 9206 crashes in 2008, and had risen by 2479 crashes by 2012.
As car accidents have risen in recent times in more populated parts of Oregon, there have been some high profile personal injury lawsuits from car accidents in the state. For example, a woman in Junction City, Oregon has sued the supermarket chain Safeway in connection to a fatal crash in 2016 that killed the woman’s seven-year-old son.
She has filed a federal lawsuit against Safeway alleging that the company knew or should have known that the configuration of the parking lot off Highway 99 in Junction City was dangerous. She is suing the company for $1.56 million in financial compensation. The was not charge in the car accident and was not named in the federal lawsuit. The child was allegedly seated on a curb of a landscaped median in the parking lot when he was hit by the truck.
Oregon Negligence Laws
There are two major ways that US states may treat negligence in an auto accident case: comparative negligence and contributory negligence. In traditional contributory negligence rules, any fault on the part of the plaintiff prevents them from recovering financial losses. This is even true in a case of 1% fault. However, many states including Oregon have moved to a system of comparative negligence.
Comparative negligence is a system where the defendant is liable only for the percentage of fault for which he or she is responsible. There are two major types of comparative negligence: modified and pure. In modified comparative fault, the plaintiff only can recover if they are 50% or 51% at fault or less. In pure comparative negligence, the injured person can collect even in a case where he is 99% at fault and the defendant is 1% at fault. Oregon follows a modified comparative negligence model.
The modified comparative negligence model is generally beneficial if you are the victim of a car accident, but note there are down sides. The system puts a percentage of fault upon each person in the lawsuit. Thus, the plaintiff can be at risk of being counter sued. For example, if the car accident victim is found to be 60% responsible for the crash when the case is shown to a jury, the defendant may be able to turn around and file a counter personal injury lawsuit against you.
Reporting a Car Accident in Oregon
Drivers who have a motor vehicle accident in Oregon must follow the accident reporting requirements stipulated in the Oregon Revised Statutes Section 811.725. It requires those in a car accident file an accident report with the Department of Transportation within three days of the incident. You also must supply evidence of insurance at the time you submit this report.
Car Insurance Requirements in Oregon
All drivers in Oregon are required to carry auto insurance that meets the standards as stipulated in Section 806.070. The law requires the following minimum coverages:
- $25,000 bodily injury or death to a person in one accident
- $50,000 bodily injury or death to two or more people in one accident
- $20,000 injury or destruction of property to other parties in one accident
If you do not have auto insurance in Oregon that meets these standards, or those that are detailed in the self-insurance portion of the Code, you could face criminal fines and charges.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Oregon
The statute of limitations that applies to most car accidents in Oregon is the same one that deals with most personal injury cases in the state. Oregon Revised Statutes 12.110 states that a legal action for an injury to the person by another party must be started within two years. Note that the clock begins on the date of the accident. The deadline will be longer if a person dies because of the crash. A wrongful death lawsuit in Oregon must begin within three years of the date that the fatal injury occurred.
Oregon Car Accident Resources
After you have been in a car accident, it is easy to be stressed out and unsure what to do. Below are some resources to help you if you are in an accident in this state:
- You should file the Oregon Traffic Accident and Insurance Report with the DMV within 72 hours of the accident. This is the case if any damage to one vehicle is more than $2500; any vehicle had to be towed; injury or death resulted; and damages to any property was more than $2500.
- If you hit a vehicle that is unoccupied, you are required by state law to place your name and address on a note on the vehicle.
- Learn what your Oregon car accident case may be worth with our Lawsuit Info Center Calculator.