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Oregon Negligence Laws

Negligence is when someone acts carelessly and harms another person. These are accidents where a party is at fault, at least partially, because they weren’t exercising the standard of care towards others we expect in society. For more detailed information, read FindLaw's negligence articles.

There are two main ways states can treat negligence: comparative negligence and contributory negligence. In a traditional contributory negligence state, any fault on the plaintiff’s part bars them from recovering for his or her losses, even if it’s 1% fault vs. 99% fault. However, most states, including Oregon, have moved away from this draconian negligence regime to a system of comparative negligence.

Comparative negligence is a legal system where the defendant only pays for the percentage of fault that he or she is found responsible for. There are two main types of comparative negligence: pure and modified. In pure, the injured party can collect even if they are 99% at fault, but the defendant still owes for his 1% fault. In modified comparative fault, the majority model, the plaintiff only recovers if they are found 50% or 51% at fault or less. Oregon has a modified comparative negligence law.

The following table outlines the main parts of Oregon negligence laws.

Code Sections Oregon Revised Statutes Sections 31.600 to 31.620 – Comparative Negligence
Comparative Negligence Oregon law has a modified comparative negligence law where the plaintiff can still collect as long as the fault attributed to him or her doesn’t exceed 51% of the total fault.
Contributory Negligence Contributory negligence isn’t a bar to recovery in a tort (an injury or accident) action if the fault attributable to the claimant is less than or equal to (50% each) of the combined fault of defendants.
Contribution Among Defendants When a defendant has been found liable for a tort, he or she is called a tortfeasor. If there’s more than one liable tortfeasors, they can be jointly responsible for paying for the plaintiff’s injury or damages. However, typically in Oregon the liability is several and not joint.

Sometimes, damages can be uncollectable from a party. If that happens, liability is joint if the defendant who can pay is more at fault than the plaintiff and is more than 25% at fault. If that defendant then pays the entire damages, he or she can be repaid by any other liable defendants, that is, he or she has a right of contribution. However, collection may be impossible.

If a defendant enters into a settlement agreement with the claimant before the trial, he or she can’t get contribution payments from any other defendants who didn’t sign the settlement agreement.
Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act No, Oregon legislators didn’t enact the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act, nor the more recent Apportionment of Tort Responsibility Act completed by the Uniform Law Commissioners in 2002.

Note: State laws change frequently, so you should contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the law(s) you’re reading, especially if it’s for an actual legal situation you’re currently experiencing.

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Have Specific Questions About Oregon Negligence Laws? Talk to a Lawyer

If you were harmed by another person's negligence, whether in a car accident, slip-and-fall, or some other event, it's important to know your rights under the law. There are also time limits on filing lawsuits, so the sooner you speak to an attorney, the better. To learn more about your rights and whether you might be entitled to compensation, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today.

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