What happens if you are injured and the party at-fault, or that party’s insurance company, won’t pay? This is a common occurrence, especially when the damages are low. “Fender benders,” slip and fall accidents, or minor damage to your property by another, are examples of situations where you are wronged, but the damages you incurred are under $10,000. Insurance companies have long used “low-balling” tactics to discourage people from pursuing claims in these smaller cases. What can you do if the at-fault party or their insurance company tells you that they will not pay you the value of what your damages really are?
In Oregon, there is a law designed to assist those who have been wronged, but their damages are under $10,000. ORS 20.080 allows you to put the other party on notice, through a written demand, stating the nature of your injury or damage along with certain evidence you have regarding the amount of damage. For instance, if your motorcycle was damaged when a vehicle collided with you, you would need to provide an estimate of the cost to fix it from a repair shop. If you were injured when you slipped and fell in a business’s parking lot, you would need to provide copies of your medical bills. ORS 20.080 requires insurance companies to respond to a demand letter with their best offer within 30 days.
The advantage of this type of a claim is that even though your damages are relatively small, it is a big deal to you! And if you were injured or suffered damage by another person, you should not be out of pocket because of it.
Under this statute, if the at-fault party refuses to pay and you are forced to file a lawsuit, you may, as part of your lawsuit, demand payment of your attorney fees related to bringing the lawsuit. In many cases the attorney fees would far exceed the amount of your damages. In addition, it requires the other party to have to pay lawyers to defend the claim. With ORS 20.080, insurance companies don’t want to risk having to pay larger attorney fees, compelling them to make more reasonable offers in a more timely manner. Before the statute, it was much harder for Oregonians to practically and successfully pursue smaller claims to have their injuries or damages made whole.
If you have suffered an injury that caused under $10,000 in damages and the party who caused your injury is refusing to pay, you should contact us to discuss if this would be a good claim for you to make a legal demand under Oregon law.
This law is meant for exactly that purpose – to protect those with small claims, but the at-fault party is banking on a small claim not being worth litigation. We believe you deserve a fair and just outcome. Our firm handles these cases with a flat fee or on a contingency basis. Let us put some muscle in your fight if you are injured or suffered damage in a small claim.