What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Oregon?
A “statute of limitations,” for those who aren’t fluent in legalese, is a state law that sets a time limit on a prospective plaintiff’s right to go to court and file a lawsuit after suffering some type of harm, such as an injury or property damage after a vehicle accident. The deadline depends on what kind of case you want to file, but the time limit is almost always expressed in years.
The statute of limitations that will apply to most car accident cases in Oregon is the same as the larger one that applies to the majority of personal injury cases filed in the state. Specifically, Oregon Revised Statutes section 12.110 says that “an action…for any injury to the person or rights of another…shall be commenced within two years.” That includes an injury claim by a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist after a traffic accident. It’s important to note that the “clock” starts running on the date of the crash.
The deadline is longer if someone died as a result of the accident, and their family wants to bring a wrongful death case against the at-fault driver. An Oregon wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of the underlying injury. That deadline is set by Oregon Revised Statutes section 30.020.
(Note: Regardless of whether the lawsuit is over an injury or a death, the success of the case will turn on your ability to prove that someone’s negligence caused the accident. Learn more about Car Accidents Caused by Negligence.)
Why is it so important to understand and abide by the statute of limitations as it applies to your situation? If you miss the filing deadline, you will almost certainly lose your right to ask the court for a remedy over any losses you suffered as a result of the car accident.
From a strategy standpoint, even if you are pretty confident that your case will reach a satisfactory resolution through an insurance settlement, you still want to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit in case you need to. At the very least, keeping that option open will give you more leverage during settlement negotiation. If you think you might be running up against the filing deadline set by the statute, you may want to discuss your case with an experienced Oregon car accident attorney.
by: David Goguen, J.D.