Oregon has a small case law, ORS 20.080, which allows for attorney fees in certain circumstances for claims of $10,000.00 or less. These cases typically arise in the following scenarios: (Keep in mind every situation is unique so call an Oregon Injury attorney at 503.224.1658 to discuss your case)
- People are injured in low speed collisions where they suffer soft tissue damage to their neck, back, and shoulders (Commonly these injuries are referred to as either cervical, thoracic, or lumbar strains). Some of these low speed collisions can cause permanent damage, but more often than not, these soft tissue injuries heal in less than a year.
- People are injured at a store, in a business, in a home, or on the sidewalk and suffer soft tissue damage to their back and neck, ankle or wrist, or cuts and bruises. These injuries can be caused by items falling off the shelf, slippery substance on the floor, doors closing or opening too fast, or items on the floor that create a tripping hazard. Many of these injuries heal in less than a year.
- Drivers and Cyclist also suffer property damage of less than $10,000.00 in collisions caused by another or the crash caused diminished value of their automobile.
- Small cuts, bruises, or scars caused in a collision. These injuries are common for cyclist in low speed crashes that are injured due to the negligence of another. Many of these cases are
valued at less than $10,000.00.
- Disputed liability cases where the case may be valued at more than $10,000.00, but the insurance company is blaming you for causing the incident and refuses to make any offer or reduces the value of the offer based on your negligence. Insurance companies use this tactic very often with crashes involving cyclist. These cases can be difficult to prevail on so it is suggested you contact an Oregon Attorney to discuss these cases.
Most people attempt to resolve these smaller cases themselves and become very frustrated when the wrongdoer’s insurance company offers them a few hundred dollars. Insurance companies are aware that many people won’t seek legal representation in their case because the injured person thinks they cannot pay for an attorney. As a result, they make “low ball” offers to persons in small claims. Insurers will claim they could never offer more than XX amount of dollars for your claim. However, once an Attorney gets involved many times that offer increases. Oregon law recognizes that this occurs and has a law to protect persons whose claim is valued at less than $10,000.00.
ORS 20.080, allows for attorney fees in certain circumstances for claims for personal injury of damaged property of $10,000.00 or less. The way ORS 20.080 usually works is:
- A written demand letter is typically drafted describing the incident that caused the injuries and the injuries. The demand letter is often sent certified mail to the at-fault party and a copy of that demand letter, with all the supporting documents to date (i.e.your medical bills and records, damaged property estimates, police or accident reports) are sent certified mail to his/her insurance adjuster;
- You wait to see if they respond with an offer. If you like the offer, you can take it and if you do, and are represented by an Attorney the Attorney may take their fee (usually 1/3 of what the case settles for). The wrongdoers’ insurance company’s last offer is important to keep in mind, because if at any time after you file a lawsuit you are able to obtain more than the insurance companies or wrongdoer’s last offer then your Attorney’s Fees and costs should also be paid by the insurance company or wrongdoer.
- If within thirty days you cannot settle the matter, you file a lawsuit against the wrongdoer shortly after the thirtieth day from the date the wrongdoer’s and/or their insurance adjuster received the demand letter.
- After the lawsuit is filed you and your attorney give the wrongdoer and their insurance an opportunity to settle for a reasonable amount plus your attorney’s fees and certain costs. If you cannot agree on a matter, you go forward with court mandated arbitration
- If the arbitrator awards you more than the wrongdoer’s last offer before you filed the lawsuit, her/his insurance company should have to pay your Attorney their hourly attorney fees and certain case costs, subject to his/her appeal by means of taking your case in front of a jury.
- If you don’t beat the at-fault party’s pre-filing offer at arbitration, you can either accept the arbitrator’s award, or appeal by taking your case to a jury. If you beat the pre-filing offer at the Jury trial the court should award attorney fees and costs. However, if you do not beat the arbitration award or pre-filing offer you may owe the defendants costs and some attorney fees.
The client benefits from ORS 20.080 because after they file the lawsuit if they beat the pre-filing offer they receive the full award or amount of the offer. Costs and Attorney’s fees are not deducted. The Attorney benefits because the Attorney can be compensated for their hourly rate that is paid by the wrongdoer’s insurance company. This hourly rate can result in an Attorney
fee award for a substantial amount of money. This is why Insurance Companies should take these cases seriously. They can be forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars in Attorney’s fees if they attempt to “low ball” a person with a small case. However, many insurance adjusters still attempt to offer very little in small cases.
If you have questions about ORS 20.080 or any injury case or property matter call Portland
Oregon Injury Attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658. Jeremiah Ross and Ross Law are eager to represent people with cases valued at under $10,000.00. Jeremiah Ross can also discuss the demand letter process with you. However, Jeremiah Ross cannot take every case, so it is best to discuss the matter with Jeremiah Ross. Please remember this post is for information only and does not constitute legal advice. The law is constantly changing so it is best you speak with an Oregon injury Attorney, such as Jeremiah Ross, to discuss your case. This post also does not
create an attorney client relationship.