Understanding Oregon Negligence

When an accident occurs in which parties to the accident are injured or even killed, a civil lawsuit following the incident generally hinges on the concept of “fault.” In order to win a personal injury lawsuit against someone you allege was responsible for your injuries, you must demonstrate that their negligence resulted in the accident and your subsequent injuries.

Negligence is the failure to fulfill one’s duty of care to another in a careless or irresponsible manner. For example, when you drive you owe a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians to operate your vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner. If you cause an accident because you were texting while driving, you could be considered by a court to have acted negligently.

If you win a personal injury lawsuit as a plaintiff, you will usually be able to recover damages from the defendant for costs like medical bills, lost wages, and even for your pain and suffering. However, few accidents are ever completely cut and dry. It is not always obvious who was at fault for the accident or whether each party was negligent to some degree.

Imagine our previous example where the driver was texting while driving. Perhaps they hit a pedestrian who was illegally crossing the street outside of a crosswalk. In such cases, both parties could be found to have been negligent to some degree and contributed to the accident. Known as Contributory Negligence, some states consider even 1% fault on the part of the plaintiff to be a bar from collecting any damages from the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit.

This is not the case in Oregon. Oregon is known as a Comparative Negligence state, meaning even if your own negligence contributed to the accident which resulted in your injuries, you can still file a lawsuit against the other party if they too were negligent. So, if you were in an accident and found to be 25% at fault, while the defendant was found to bear 75% of responsibility, in Oregon you could collect damages proportional to the opposing party’s level of fault.

Oregon’s comparative negligence law comes with a key caveat, however. Our state ascribes to what is known as “modified comparative negligence” as opposed to “pure comparative negligence.” If purely enforced, the comparative negligence model would allow a party who is found to be 99% at fault for an accident to still collect that remaining 1% from the opposing party for his or her own damages. The modified method used in Oregon prevents anyone who is found 51% negligent or more for an accident or injury from collecting damages.

Thus, if you are 50% responsible or less, you can still collect damages, but your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of negligence.

Determining negligence in a personal injury case can be incredibly tricky. If you have been the victim of an accident caused by another’s negligent actions, it is essential that you enlist the services of a skilled attorney to advocate and fight for your best interests. In order to protect your right to collect the damages you are rightfully entitled to, please contact the attorneys at ClarkeGriffin today!

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Written by Clarke Griffin