Legal Alerts

Oregon General Liability: A Primer

Portland, Ore. (November 10, 2021) - This alert will provide a “cheat sheet” for general liability laws and regulations in the State of Oregon. Issues addressed include statutes of limitations, assignment of fault and damages, attorney fees, arbitration requirements, and unique discovery practices.

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 as detailed below.

  • The plaintiffs’ recovery can be 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 limit to the damages recoverable for personal injury in Oregon, except in the circumstances outlined below.

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

Mandatory Arbitration

Actions under $50,000 are subject to mandatory 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 may recover attorney fees on actions under $10,000 if the plaintiff:

  • provides notice of a claim for $10,000 or less at least 30 days before filing a lawsuit;
  • provides enough documentation for the defendant to generally value the claim; and
  • was awarded more at trial or arbitration than the defendant offered before the lawsuit.

The only way to avoid attorney fees 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.

If you have any questions about these or any other matters, please do not hesitate to contact the author of this alert. Visit our General Liability Practice page for more alerts in this area.


Tessan Wess, Partner

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