Oregon General Liability: Primer

November 2023

Statute of Limitations

Personal Injury: Two years (ORS 12.110)
Wrongful Death: Three years (ORS 30.020)
Contracts: Six years (ORS 12.080)

Comparative Negligence & Contributory Fault

Oregon follows the modified comparative negligence model:

  • The plaintiff's recovery can be proportionally offset by the percentage of their comparative fault.
  • If a plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault, the plaintiff is barred from recovery.
  • A jury can compare the fault of all parties, including settling defendants. (ORS 31.600)

Joint & Several Liability

There is no joint and several liability in Oregon. (ORS 31.610)

Damages Caps

Generally, there is no cap on damages recoverable for personal injury in Oregon, except:

  • In wrongful death matters, non-economic damages are capped at $500,000. (ORS 31.710)
  • In tort actions against public bodies, there is a statutory cap - the amount is variable depending on the number of claimants, the type of damage, and the date of loss. (Oregon Tort Claims Act, ORS 30.260 to 30.300)

Mandatory Arbitration

Actions under $50,000 are subject to mandatory, non-binding arbitration. The arbitration award can be appealed by either party for a de novo jury trial. (ORS 36.045)

Attorney Fee Exposure for Claims Under $10,000

A plaintiff can recover attorney fees on actions under $10,000 if the plaintiff:

  • provides a pre-litigation settlement demand for $10,000 or less at least 30 days before filing a lawsuit;
  • provides enough information for the defendant to generally value the claim; and
  • receives an award at trial or arbitration that exceeds the amount that the defendant offered before the lawsuit.

The only way to avoid attorney fees on an ORS 20.080 claim for $10,000 or less is to extend a pre-suit offer that exceeds the damages ultimately awarded to the plaintiff, or otherwise obtain a defense verdict. (ORS 20.080)

Unique Discovery & Disclosure Practices*

  • No interrogatories
  • No expert discovery
  • No pre-trial witness disclosure

*These practices apply to Oregon state courts only. These discovery tools are available in federal court.