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Oregon Auto Accident Laws

Oregon is among the most beautiful states in the country. Full of large cosmopolitan cities and natural rural areas, Oregon has a lot to offer to motorists. Yet Oregon roadways are also dangerous. Data from the Oregon DOT shows there were 50,099 crashes in 2018. Of these, 27,717 accidents resulted in injuries while 446 were fatal. In 2020, the number of fatalities increased to 490If you live in or plan on visiting Oregon, it is a good idea to become familiar with Oregon auto accident laws. Oregon auto accident laws give car accident victims important rights. Yet Oregon auto accident laws are complex. Those that do not have a lawyer often do not know what their options are. 

This guide will cover some important Oregon auto accident laws. The guide provides a brief overview of laws that will likely be important to your case. For more information, discuss your case with an experienced Oregon car accident lawyer.

Oregon is an At-Fault State

Like most states, Oregon auto accident laws operate on a fault-based system. This means that the party that was at-fault for causing the accident must pay for resulting harm. This includes costs such as medical expenses, lost income, and property damages. 

In most cases the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay for all damages. But Oregon’s comparative negligence rule may impact the victim’s damage award. 

Comparative Negligence in Oregon Auto Accident Cases

Oregon follows a modified comparative negligence rule in car accident cases. Oregon Revised Statutes Section 31.600 gives car accident victims the right to recover damages in a lawsuit as long as your share of fault is not greater than other parties. But any damages will reduce by the victim’s share of negligence.

For example, suppose you suffer an injury in a car accident in Oregon. You file a lawsuit against the other driver and his insurance company. The jury determines that your damages are $100,000. But the jury also finds that you were 20% responsible for the car accident. The court will subtract your share of liability ($20,000) from the award leaving you with $80,000. 

But if the jury found that you were 55% at-fault for the accident, you would not recover any damages under Oregon auto accident laws.

Oregon Auto Accident Laws Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing a car accident lawsuit. Oregon Revised Statutes Section 12.110 gives a car accident victim 2 years to file a lawsuit. This applies to claims for injuries. The clock starts running from the day of the accident. The 2-year period covers a lawsuit by a driver, passenger, or pedestrian. 

There are different deadlines for car accidents resulting in property damage or death. Oregon Revised Statutes Section 12.080 allows 6 years to recover for property damage. For example, the costs of repairing your vehicle. 

Oregon Revised Statutes Section 12.080 applies to wrongful death lawsuits. The accident victim’s family can file a wrongful death suit. They have 3 years from the date of the injury that caused the victim’s death. 

If the accident victim does not file a lawsuit by the deadline, he will be unable to. There are some minor exceptions to this rule. But it is a good idea to leave yourself plenty of time to file. Missing the deadline set by the statute of limitations can have devastating consequences. An experienced Oregon car accident lawyer can ensure that you do not miss the deadline. 

The Oregon statute of limitations does not apply to an insurance claim.  Your insurance policy will list the procedures for filing a claim. 

Oregon’s Minimum Insurance Liability Coverage Amounts

Oregon auto accident laws requires drivers to buy liability insurance coverage. The minimum amounts of coverage are: 

  • $25,000 for property damage caused by the driver of the insured vehicle.
  • $25,000 for bodily injury or death caused by the driver of the insured vehicle. 
  • $50,000 for total bodily injury or death liability caused by the driver of the insured vehicle. 
  • $15,000 in personal injury protection coverage 
  • $25,000 per person in uninsured motorist coverage
  • $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage

Liability coverage covers medical expenses, property damage, and other damages to third parties. The insurance company will pay damages up to the coverage limits. Many drivers buy policies with higher coverage limits. This shields them from personal liability for serious car accidents. 

Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage pays medical and other out-of-pocket losses. PIP usually covers the policyholder and passengers. 

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects from drivers with inadequate insurance. It also covers you if you suffer an injury in a hit and run accident. 

Liability coverage does not apply to any damages that you incur. If you are at-fault you will have to rely on PIP or collision coverage, for example.

Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Oregon

Driving without insurance in Oregon can result in stiff penalties, including: 

  • A fine of up to $1,000; 
  • Registration and driver’s license suspension; 
  • Vehicle impoundment; 
  • Reinstatement fees; and/or 
  • An obligation to file proof of compliance every month. 

You may also have to carry SR-22 insurance. SR-22 is a form that your insurance company must file with the Oregon DMV. This form verifies that you have car insurance. Many insurance companies consider SR-22 to be high-risk. This could cause your insurance premiums to increase. 

If you cause a car accident and do not have insurance, you may be personally liable for damages.  

Reporting a Car Accident in Oregon

Oregon auto accident laws requires drivers to report car accidents. Drivers must file an Oregon Traffic Accident and Insurance Report with the DMV within 24 hours if: 

  • The car accident resulted in more than $2,500 in damage to your vehicle;
  • The car accident resulted in more than $2,500 in damage to property other than a vehicle; 
  • A vehicle is towed from the scene; or
  • The car accident resulted in the injury or death of any person. 

Recovering Damages in an Oregon Car Accident Case

There are several different ways injured drivers can recover damages. The first step is usually to contact your insurance company to report the accident. Your insurance company will work with the other driver’s insurance company to determine fault. 

If the other driver is at-fault his insurance company will pay for your damages. If you are at-fault, then you must turn to your own insurance company for compensation. This could include collision coverage or PIP coverage. 

When the other driver is at-fault his insurance company will often try to settle. The insurance company will often send you a written offer. This initial offer is often a lowball figure. Insurance companies attempt to settle cases fast to limit their liability. 

You can also be proactive and send the insurance company a formal demand letter. A demand letter details your damages and requests a specific amount to settle your case. Parties that do not have the benefit of an experienced Oregon auto accident lawyer often undervalue their claims. A lawyer can help you determine what your case is worth. 

Another option to recover damages is to file a lawsuit. Accident victims usually list the other driver and his insurance company as defendants. Some cases may also involve third-party defendants. There are two main reasons why car accident victims file a lawsuit. First, the insurance company is unwilling to offer more money to settle. In this case, you can go to trial to attempt to get more compensation from a jury. 

Second, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations has expired. Even if you are confident of settling, filing preserves your right to go to trial. After you file, you can continue to negotiate with the insurance company. If you reach a settlement, you can withdraw the lawsuit. 

To recover damages at trial, you must prove that the other driver was negligent. This means that the other driver failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care. And his failure must have caused the accident. If you contributed to the accident the comparative negligence rule will come into play. 

Get Help With Oregon Auto Accident Laws

Did you or someone that you know suffer an injury in a car accident in Oregon? Use our free online Injury Settlement Calculator to see what your case might be worth. If you need help with your auto accident case, Lawsuit Info Center is here for you. Reach out for a risk free consultation. We can help you get in touch with a lawyer in your area.