ORS 20.080 will undergo some big changes beginning January 1, 2009. As a bit of background, this statute makes it economically feasible for persons with smaller claims to hire a lawyer in their case. After a demand for settlement is made, and a certain amount of time goes by, the claimant can file his or her claim in court. If the end result is no better than the last offer made by the tortfeasor, the claimant must pay his or her own attorney fees. However, if the end result is better than the last offer made by the tortfeasor, then the court may order the tortfeasor to pay some or all of the claimant's attorney fees. The claim threshold is set to increase from the current limit of $5,500 up to $7,500 beginning January 1, 2010. Thus, if your claim is worth $7,500 or less after January 1, 2010, you may well get your legal fees paid for should the wrongdoer fail to act reasonably in negotiations. While there are other tweaks to notice and time limitations, the increase in the claim threshold is the most significant change we will see to the law beginning next month.
- Tim Williams
Your Oregon personal injury attorney