What to know about Oregon personal injury attorneys & laws


Things to know about Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys & Laws


If you or a loved one has received an unexpected injury, you understand how quickly it can impact your daily routine. Whether you're in Bend, Portland, Medford, Roseburg, Grant's Pass, or Eugene, personal injuries cause significant disruptions in your life, and it is important to seek support. Don't hesitate to reach out for legal assistance.

Whether you or a loved one has faced harm such as:

  • medical malpractice
  • dog bites
  • slip-and-fall accidents
  • wrongful death
  • motor vehicle claims
  • workplace injuries
  • assault
  • and other events causing physical and/or psychological damage...

...thinking about getting a personal injury attorney is not an overreaction. We understand that no matter the type of personal injury, these are exhausting and stressful circumstances. Our personal injury lawyers at Dwyer Williams Cherkoss are determined to reach the settlement you deserve.

When should you file a personal injury claim?

Some injuries do not warrant the time and expense of hiring a lawyer. If this accident is your fault, you should not hire a lawyer; instead, you should consider contacting your insurance company in the event you hurt someone else.  However, your medical bills should still be covered by both your automobile insurer (under your Personal Injury Protection coverage) and, after that is exhausted, your health insurance.

Note, however, that these cases are much more complicated than a quick "yes" or "no" when assessing fault. The court will declare how the two parties share blame based on event records, witness testimony, and so on. Parties found to be under 50% fault in the accident may still seek damages in the case! O.R.S. § 31.600.

If you believe your situation was not entirely your fault, looking for a personal injury firm to assist you is appropriate. Make sure to read the Oregon statute of limitations below to ensure that you do this in a timely manner!

Should I hire a lawyer if all I want is a settlement?

Absolutely! Most cases are settled outside court, but we can still help you. With attorneys experienced in reading between the lines and talking to insurance companies, we can still ensure you receive a fair settlement.  Moreover, with over 100 years of combined experience, we have the knowledge base to guide you to a proper settlement amount - different from the one that the cheap insurance adjuster will try to pitch.

Even if you don't end up hiring an attorney, talking to one to help you understand what is next is always helpful. Our lawyers are always interested in offering you valuable resources and guides.

Steps to take after a personal injury occurs

Our lawyers in Portland, Eugene, Medford, Roseburg, Grants Pass, and Bend offer free consultations to discuss your options. Here are some recommended steps to take after incurring a personal injury:

  1. First, get medical attention immediately. Even if you think this injury is minor at first, it could eventually begin to impact your way of living. Stay in contact with your doctors after an accident, especially if your condition worsens. This is both for you and for the case we will build.
  2. If possible, to do so without injuring yourself further, take photos and videos at the scene. Talk to other eyewitnesses who could help establish a record of the culprit's fault in the accident. If you feel it is necessary, call 911 and create a police report.
  3. Avoid speaking to the at-fault party's insurance company. Refrain from saying "sorry," even if you may feel obligated to do so out of politeness. They negotiate for low deals and listen for statements that could make you appear at fault. If you've given a settlement, have a lawyer read it to ensure you are not being lowballed.
  4. Once and only when you are healthy enough to do so, speak with an Oregon personal injury attorney to learn your options. Our seasoned attorneys at Dwyer Williams Cherkoss are happy to assist you in seeking the damages you deserve.

Why should I quickly hire a personal injury attorney?

Many states have laws called statutes of limitations that give a person a limited period to file a particular type of claim. In Oregon, the statute of limitations for accidents such as dog bites, car accidents, wrongful death, etc., is generally two years.  However, if a governmental entity is involved, there is a much shorter timeframe to give formal notice of your claim, or your rights will be lost.  Similarly, the statute of limitations is shorter for other types of claims or could be longer if involving children, wrongful death, sexual abuse, or other limited claims.

We understand that even two years is a short timeline, and you will likely take the majority of it to recover - especially if surgery is involved. The longer you wait to contact a lawyer, the harder it could be to get compensation. The other party's insurance will be thinking of their next steps the entire time, whereas you won’t have anybody to guide or protect you or your rights. Do not let the language of the law confuse you into missing out on your right to make a claim!

Our firm wants to help settle your case as soon as possible so you can focus on getting life back to normal, though not so quickly that you are leaving money on the table. Understanding Oregon's negligence laws is not easy, nor is understanding the proper value of your claim, especially if you are alone and recovering from harm. If you ignore the statute of limitations in Oregon for these lawsuits or otherwise wait too long to contact an attorney,  you could miss your chance of recovering anything at all.

Why should I be documenting everything?

To proceed in receiving compensation for the injuries you incurred, you and our law firm have to prove negligence. Your percentage of liability will show how "at fault" you were in the accident. This percentage assists in determining what fair compensation would look like, as it plays into the amount of the value of your injury you are allowed to recover.

Your attorney will have to prove that the other party was negligent and that the accident was not entirely (or even partially) your fault. These elements include proving:

  • Prove a duty of care: The blameworthy party owed you a duty of care. e.g., when someone on the road sees a red light, they have a duty to the other drivers on that road to safely stop.
  • Prove that the blameworthy party breached the duty of care by not following through. For example, they disregard their duty of care and safety for others by choosing not to stop and drive through the red light.
  • Damages caused by that breach: You or the person your estate represents were harmed by the other party's breach.
  • Prove causation: Your pain and suffering are a direct result of this negligence. e.g., they crash into you, causing harm because they breached their duty of care.

So long as our firm can prove these elements, making a settlement demand or filing a lawsuit if the case cannot be settled within the time the law allows is appropriate. This is why we ask that you maintain proper health and accident documentation. This way, you can obtain appropriate damages to compensate for your injury.

What damages may I seek?

Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, we want you to understand all the relevant laws. An experienced Oregon personal injury lawyer is vital to speak to in order to do so. Our many offices across the state are determined to help you gain compensation for:

  1. Past medical expenses
  2. Future medical expenses,
  3. Lost wages from taking time off to recover,
  4. Impairment of your capacity to work,
  5. Personal property damages, and
  6. Noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.

Remember that Oregon law might prevent you from seeking over a certain amount of compensation. For instance, you cannot seek more than $500,000 in noneconomic damages in wrongful death claims. O.R.S. § 31.710.  Moreover, claims against the state or local governments are also limited.

Similarly, all car drivers in Oregon are required by law to have auto insurance. Drivers who do not have insurance and are in a crash generally can only recover economic damages. O.R.S. § 31.710.

More on Oregon's Negligence Laws

The State of Oregon has a "modified comparative negligence” rule. This means that if the other party is at least 50% responsible for the event, you can get compensation for damages. However, if you are found to be somewhat at fault, your damages will be reduced by that percentage.  And if you are found to be greater than 50% at fault, you get nothing.

For example, let's say a jury awards you $100,000 for your injuries, but they also found you to be 30% liable. Your award would, therefore, be reduced by 30%, leaving you with the remaining 70% ($70,000). Knowledge about these complicated laws is essential to bringing you the full compensation you seek - especially in limiting or entirely eliminating your share of liability.

How can I hire a personal injury attorney?

Pick a firm with a strong track record when finding a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer's knowledge of personal injury law will impact the outcome of your case, so it's best to find one with a history of getting results.

You may feel tempted to hire the first lawyer you encounter. That temptation is easy to understand, as this accident has likely left you tired and injured. However, it's best to take the time to find a good lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases.

At DWC, our lawyers from many Oregon offices are happy to discuss your options moving forward. We regularly take claims regarding motor vehicle accidents, personal injuries, workplace injuries, and more with clients like you. We also have a no-pressure approach, so if you need time to weigh your options, that is fine with us.

Will my personal injury attorney bill me monthly or hourly?

Neither! Our statewide lawyers, with offices in Bend, Eugene, Grants Pass, Roseburg, and Portland, are determined to get you more money than you would have received on your own. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you can let us worry about obtaining a quick and full settlement while you heal and move on.

A contingency fee basis means that you and your DWC attorney will work under a percentage agreement instead of hour billing. This agreement will detail a specific share of your monetary award that you would pay us for our work. Once you receive compensation for your damages, we will deduct that percentage as compensation for our legal services.  It also means that should the unusual happen and you lose, you wouldn’t owe us a dime in attorney fees.

With your cooperation, we can pay the special attention required to reach the settlement you deserve. If impacted by a personal injury in Bend, Eugene, Grants Pass, Roseburg, Portland, or elsewhere in Oregon, call us today at (800) 285-8678 and set up a FREE consultation!

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