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Oregon Court Records

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What is a Tort Case, and What Does It Involve in Oregon?

In Oregon, a tort case begins when there is a breach of a legal duty leading to personal injury. Breach of contracts or quasi-contracts are not covered under tort law in the state of Oregon, as they are not regarded as a breach of the state’s legal duty. The District Court is the court tasked with hearing tort cases within the state, and this court presides over these cases based on the Oregon Tort Claims Act. The Act stipulates what exactly qualifies as a tort case, and what persons, or institutions are eligible to file a case. In Oregon, tort case information is maintained alongside other Oregon court records and disseminated by designated custodians of judicial information in various jurisdictions. 

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in. 

Third-party sites are independent from government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What is Oregon Tort Law?

The Oregon tort law is established in Section 30 of the Section 30 of the Oregon Revised Statutes. This section defines what qualifies as tort within the state, the degree of public bodies’ liabilities with respect to the nature of individual cases, the various limitations and exemptions embedded in the law, and how to go about filing a tort claim.

According to the Oregon Tort Law, tort is defined as a civil (not criminal) wrong, as a result of negligence on the part of government personnel, medical practitioners, service providers, non-profit training residential facilities, and any officer or employee of a public body not earlier specified, and also by individuals and companies, this excludes all cases involving a breach of contract or quasi-contracts.

The nature of tort law in Oregon limits to a large extent, sovereign immunity, hence making the government culpable for any harm or personal injury caused by misconduct or outright negligence of the government or employees working under it.

It is however important to note that there are certain limitations imposed by the Oregon Tort Law to the types of lawsuits that may be filed, and the various circumstances in which it is legal to file them. The Oregon Tort Claims Act clearly specifies that it possesses the sole means through which remedy for tort cases within the state can be procured, and any other form of legal action is prohibited.

What Kinds of Cases are Covered By Tort Law In Oregon?

Listed below, are the various kinds of cases covered under Oregon Tort law.

  • Personal injury: This may include battery and assault which directly impedes on the plaintiff’s rights subsequently causing physical, mental, or psychological injury.
  • Wrongful death: Arises when the death of an individual is caused due to negligence of another party.
  • Automobile Accidents: Occurs when the plaintiff sustains personal injury due to negligence on the part of the defendant, while the latter was driving or piloting a vehicle. These cases may include car crashes caused by drunk driving, disobedience of traffic/road rules, negligence of proper maintenance of vehicles. It may also include air plane crashes occurring in certain conditions.
  • Property Damage: Occurs when the actions of a party causes another person to suffer damage to property. It is important to note that property damage succeeding a breach of contract is not treated as a tort case in the state of Oregon.
  • Cycling and Pedestrian Injuries: This is a subset of personal injuries that has gained importance due to its frequency of occurrence in the State of Oregon. As far as such an injury is caused by negligent actions of the defendant, the plaintiff can file such a case under the Tort Law of Oregon.
  • Business Tort: When a business, or its operations are hampered by the actions or inactions of another, or the government, in which such action/inaction is in violation of the stipulated laws that govern these businesses, such business owner is entitled to pursue a remedy under the Oregon Tort Law. 
  • Defamation, Libel, and Slander: If it is proven that the image of an individual or company is hurt by false information disseminated by another party, then such a plaintiff can pursue a remedy and possible compensation under the state’s tort law.
  • Domestic abuse: Although laws governing domestic abuse in Oregon are governed by the Domestic Relations Laws, some cases can considerably overlap and be regarded as tort cases
  • Premises Liability: A subset of personal injury cases occurring within the premises of a building owned or managed by the defendant.

What is the Difference between Tort law and Criminal law in Oregon?

It is not uncommon to see cases that overlap between tort law and criminal law. Regardless of these similarities, the definitions of what qualifies as either, clearly differentiates the two. Cases that can be considered as tort cases in the state of Oregon are cases where there is a breach in civil law as a result of negligence on the part of the defendant, and these cases are usually pursued with the primary aim of procuring a remedy or compensation for the plaintiff. 

Criminal prosecution to obtain a jail term for a defaulting party is not included in the Oregon Tort Law.

In contrast, criminal law in Oregon is used to adjudge cases where there is a deliberate attempt to break the laws of the state, and such cases are prosecuted with the primary aim of obtaining a suitable punishment for the suspected offender. Typically, the punishment includes jail term, parole, probation, and fines.

The criminal law of Oregon is contained in Oregon criminal law, and all cases that fall under misdemeanors and felonies, are prosecuted in accordance with this law.

What is the Purpose of Tort Law in Oregon?

The tort law of Oregon was created to serve the following purposes:

  • To enable proper and adequate compensations to individuals who have incurred injuries, both physical or to their business, as a result of negligent actions netted out to them
  • To prosecute cases of negligence as far as they fall within the definite applications of the Oregon Tort Law
  • To reduce sovereign immunity, where Government/public bodies are not culpable for negligent actions by their personnel
  • To expedite the resolution of disputes

What is a Tort Claim in Oregon?

A Tort Claim is a lawsuit filed by an aggrieved party, over a breach of legal duty that is imposed by law (excluding contractual obligations). This lawsuit is filed in accordance with the guidelines for such a lawsuit as documented in the Oregon Tort law. The legal representative of the plaintiff has to provide proof that their client’s case meets the requirements stipulated under the state's Tort Law. It is equally important to note that tort claims have specific time frames during which they are considered valid. 

How Do You File a Tort Claim in Oregon?

A notice of claim must first be issued by the plaintiff's legal representative. This notice represents the first step in a Tort Claim in Oregon. For the most part, the time frame within which it must be issued varies from one claim to another:

  • For wrongful death, a notice of claim must be filed within one year of the incident 
  • For other claims, it must be tendered within 180 days of the incident. Oregon Tort Law, however, provides an additional 90 days extention to  injured/incapacitated individuals or those who can't afford legal representation

This notice of claim bears two parts. The first is the formal notice of claim, and the second is the actual notice of claim. The formal notice of claim contains a statement claiming damages, a description of the time and place where such event eliciting the claim occurred, the name and mailing address of the claimant, and such a notice is delivered personally or by mail. The actual notice of claim is a communication to the defendant party of the specifics of the claim, in such a way that the defendant becomes fully aware that the plaintiff desires to claim damages.

After the notice of claim has been duly processed by the defendant, the district court is notified and the lawsuit begins with the court inviting both the plaintiff and the defendant to court for hearing of the case.

What Does a Tort Claim Contain in Oregon?

The following are the contents of a tort claim in the state of oregon:

  • Biodata of the claimant including the first, middle, and last name.
  • Addresses of both the claimant and defendant including the mailing and physical addresses. If the individual is a temporary resident in Oregon, it must be stated too.
  • Telephone numbers and house/office lines of both parties.
  • Detailed description of the incident which includes date, time, location etc.
  • Comprehensive list of claims
  • Any other evidence that proves the validity of the claim e.g. pictures, videos, surveillance footage etc.

What Happens When a Tort claim is Filed?

After a tort claim is successfully filed, an investigation of presented evidence commences. Generally, a resolution may be reached without a trial. In the absence of such resolutions, the case proceeds to trial. 

Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Tort Claim in Oregon?

Although it is possible for an individual to represent themselves in a tort lawsuit, it is advisable to seek the legal help from a professional personal injury lawyer. This is to put in consideration the specific events of the case and the various time frames and modalities involved in filing a Tort claim in Oregon.

How can I find a Personal Injury lawyer near me?

Interested parties may find a personal injury lawyer on the Lawyer Referral Services page provided by the Oregon State Bar Association. Using the service enables citizens to have up to 30 minutes legal consultation for not more than $35 for the first meeting. The service, however, does not cover for second meetings upwards. The Bar also runs a Modest Means Program which allows qualified persons to get legal representation for less money than usual.

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