Lawsuits are not always the go-to solution for victims of car accidents in Oregon. If all involved parties cooperate, the best course of action is to find a car accident lawyer and, with their help, try to negotiate a settlement with the liable party’s insurance company.
It would only be advisable to go on and file a lawsuit if the company wrongfully denies your claim or offers you an unreasonably low settlement.
It is always a wise thing to file a claim as soon after the accident as possible to avoid compromising the Oregon car accident statute of limitations if the case has to be decided in court. The statute of limitations is the period following the accident after which you are not allowed to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party and their insurance company. If you are barred from filing a lawsuit, you lose your right to collect damages.
Oregon’s statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits
In Oregon, the statute of limitations is the same for all personal injury claims, including injuries sustained in car accidents. The same applies if you are seeking compensation for damage on your car or property. That is two years from the day you were involved in the accident.
The two-year deadline applies whether your injury was as a result of another driver’s negligence or by a deliberate act, as in road rages. Keep in mind that the statute clock starts ticking on the day of the accident, so it is imperative that you record it somewhere just in case the claim goes to trial.
What if you fail to beat the filing deadline?
If you let the two-year deadline pass, you have no claim seeking damages from the defendant. Otherwise, they will point this out during trial and have the case dismissed. The court, upon confirmation that the statute of limitations was not adhered to, will almost certainly grant the dismissal.
It is not a secret that insurance companies will do whatever it takes to avoid paying out the settlement. They know you will lose your negotiating leverage if the two year period passes by and may decide to run down the clock while you are not looking. If they are taking too long to respond to your claim or seem to be asking for trivial clarifications on your claim, then it would be wise to file suit and have the settlement decided by a judge. You stand little chance of receiving a payout from an insurance company once the statute of limitations deadline has passed.
Oregon’s car accident statute of limitations exceptions
The two-year deadline may not apply if the victim of a car accident died from injuries sustained in the accident. Wrongful death cases have a three-year statute of limitations period.
If the claimant is below 18 years of age, the deadline is five years after the accident. The same applies if the victim has a mental condition that may inhibit their ability to comprehend rights they are supposed to know.