Oregon Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases
How Long do I Have to File an Oregon Auto Insurance Personal Injury Claim?
Oregon statutes of limitations are a dangerous topic for lawyers. That’s the topic that lawyers end up getting sued over more than any other issue. In fact, it’s so dangerous that there are a lot of lawyers out there who, when they reject a client, they won’t even tell them what the Oregon statute of limitations is. They’ll just say: “Be aware, there’s a statute of limitations.” [Which means there is a time limit to file an Oregon auto insurance claim.]
I don’t want to do that to you. I want to give you good information that you can use, but you have to understand that statutes of limitations are really complicated. The reason lawyers get sued over them is that they’re not simple, so I’m going to tell you the basics, but you have to understand there are all kinds of variations and I cannot guarantee and I do not guarantee that what I’m going to say is going to apply to your case. It’ll apply in most circumstances. So, having said that, in general the time limit to file an auto insurance claim in Oregon for a personal injury case is two years.
From the date you’re injured you have two years to file your lawsuit. Now, if you go to a lawyer a year and ten months after the injury, they typically won’t take the case because there’s a lot of prep work that needs to be done before you can file a lawsuit. We generally don’t take cases that are more than a year and a half old, and we prefer not to take cases that are more than a year old. But two years is the amount of time.
Now here are some exceptions. If someone was drunk and there’s any chance that you’re going to sue the bar that served them alcohol when they shouldn’t have, when they are already visibly intoxicated, you’ve got 180 days from the date of the injury to serve what’s called the Dram Shop Notice on that bar. They have to receive that within 180 days and we’ve had situations where someone’s hit by a drunk and they want to sue the drunk but the drunk driver only has $25,000.00 worth of insurance and the person deserves a lot more than that, so we want to figure out did the bar break the law and serve a visibly intoxicated person alcohol.
And in order to find that out, it’s not easy, because we’re not friends with the drunk driver and so if we ask them, “Hey, where were you drinking?” they might not tell us. Sometimes you have to file a lawsuit in order to force them to tell us, and you’ve only got 180 days to get that dram shot notice to the bar, so there can be a real rush.
The second instance in Oregon where there’s a real rush is if you have to file a Tort Claim Notice. This is if you sue a public body. So if you sue the City of Portland or Tri-Met or the Beaverton School District, the parks department, any kind of public entity, you have to give them written notice in a certain form within 180 days after your injury.
And again, it is not always super clear whom to sue. It’s not always clear if it’s the city or the county or the state who’s responsible, so it’s really important under these circumstances to get going fast, because you need to do the investigation, get the letter out and get all that done within 180 days. These 180-day deadlines are traps — that trap a lot of people and many claims are lost because of that. See, if you don’t meet those deadlines, you don’t get to file a claim. So those are some examples.
There are a bunch of others. If you’re under 18, they do things different. If the accident happened in California or Washington or any other state, it’s all different. So those are general guidelines and like I said, I’m hesitant to even put this out there, but there’s so much misinformation, I want to at least get the general rules out there and hopefully, this will be helpful to you.