Personal injury claims from property accidents: Oregon’s statute of limitations can affect your case

When you’re invited to someone’s property, you have a reasonable expectation of safety. However, accidents can still occur.

Sometimes, the accident is your fault but others can be caused by the property owner’s negligence. You may fall through a rotten floorboard or into a poorly identified hole in the yard.

When negligence is the direct cause of your accident, you can hold the property owner liable for your damages, which also means understanding Oregon’s statute of limitations. There’s a deadline to file a claim and this can affect your personal injury case.

The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Oregon

If you’re injured in a property accident due to someone’s negligence or malicious intent, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. In most cases, you turn to the property owner’s home insurance provider to recover compensation for your damages, and this can include both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages typically include your medical expenses and any lost wages if you’re unable to return to work. If you also damage personal property, you can include repair or replacement costs in your claim. Your property damage can include items like a cell phone, tablet, or even items you keep in your purse or pocket.

If a tree branch falls on your vehicle, this can also be considered property damage. These are only examples and may or may not apply to your injury claim.

Non-economic damages can include things like mental anguish, pain, suffering, and loss of life enjoyment. Since every personal injury claim is different, it’s a good idea to talk to an accident attorney about your potential non-economic damages.

Okay, now you have a general idea of what’s included in a standard personal injury claim. However, don’t take too long trying to determine your damages. Oregon has a strict statute of limitations when it comes to personal injury claims. In other words, you don’t have several years to start the claim process. In most personal injury cases relating to property accidents, you have two years to start the claim process.

The statute of limitations is a little longer if the property accident results in a fatality. You have three years from the date of the accident to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Potential exceptions to Oregon’s statute of limitations

Even though Oregon does allow a few exceptions to its statute of limitations, it’s still a good idea to file a personal injury claim as soon as possible. Evidence can get lost and witnesses can move away. Memories of the accident can also become a little fuzzy and all of this can affect the value and even legitimacy of your claim.

However, sometimes it’s necessary to temporarily pause the statute of limitations. You can’t stop the clock from ticking but there are a few times when you can temporarily stop it.

Exemption for advanced payment

This exception is relatively rare in personal injury cases resulting from accidents on someone’s property but it’s worth mentioning. If the at-fault party’s insurance company hands over an advanced check for your economic damages, for example, your medical and property damage expenses they must include a letter stating the final date you have to file a lawsuit.

Once again, this only applies if you receive a payment before filing a claim. If the insurance company includes the letter, you’re legally obligated to file a claim by the stated date. Sometimes, you may only have 30 days. 

However, if the insurance company forgets to send the letter, the statute of limitations kicks back in and you have two years from the accident date regardless of whether or not you accept the check. This is more common in auto collisions but does occasionally occur in property accident claims.

A minor is injured in the accident

Since minors can’t legally file a personal injury claim, it makes sense that the statute of limitations is paused until the accident victim’s 18th birthday. Once the minor turns 18, they’re considered a legal adult and the two-year statute of limitations starts. However, there’s even an exception for minors. The statute of limitations can’t be extended for more than five years.

This means if the minor is under the age of 13, a parent or guardian may need to step in and file a personal injury claim. The minor is still named as the accident victim, only their parent or guardian is also included in the personal injury claim.

The exemption gets a little more confusing if the accident occurs on government property. Regardless of the victim’s age, you only have two years to file a personal injury claim. If a minor is the accident victim, it’s best to consult with an attorney to help ensure you don’t miss any filing deadlines.

The accident occurs on public or government property

If you’re injured on property either public or government-owned, the two-year statute of limitations doesn’t apply. You also need to take an extra step. Before you can start a personal injury claim, you must file a written tort claim notice. This is basically a notice letting the entity that owns or manages the property know you’re planning on filing a personal injury claim.

You usually have 180 days to file the written notice and this doesn’t give you a lot of time to prepare a personal injury claim. If a fatality occurs, you have a little more time to file a tort notice. Typically, you have one year from the accident date.

If the at-fault party flees the state

If the property owner flees the state or can’t be located by law enforcement, the statute of limitations is paused until the individual is located. However, this only applies if the individual disappears before you file a personal injury claim. 

If the property owner vanishes after you file the claim, the statute of limitations doesn’t apply. As soon as you file a personal injury claim the statute of limitations no longer applies.

Talk to an attorney about your rights if you’re injured on someone’s property

You have rights if you’re injured on someone’s property, and this can include receiving compensation for your damages. However, don’t wait too long to start the claim process, the statute of limitations kicks in the day the accident occurs. 

To ensure you don’t miss a filing deadline, talk to an experienced attorney about your personal injury case and get the ball rolling to ensure that you get the justice you deserve.