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Filing an injury claim against the State of Oregon can be a challenge. Even if your claim is successful, if you have been injured in an accident in a state owned building or suffer harm due to the actions of a state employee acting in the scope of his or her duties, your compensation may be limited.

As with cases involving the Federal Government, the Oregon State Government is entitled to what is known as “sovereign immunity” regarding matters of liability. Many of our laws are derived from British Common Law. Historically, under the doctrine of “sovereign immunity,” you were not permitted to sue the king. In modern times, there is a general rule that you cannot sue the government, unless the government says you can, and every state has passed its own set of laws (referred to as a “Tort Claims Act”).

Liability Limits under the Oregon Tort Claims Act

The Oregon Tort Claims Act limits the types of lawsuits that may be filed against the state and the circumstances in which they can be brought.

Under the Oregon Tort Claims Act, you may file a claim if:

  • An injury or death was caused by a slip and fall or other forms of negligence where the government was at fault.
  • You were injured in an auto accident due to the actions of a government employee who was carrying out his or her duties, or the vehicle was part of a ridesharing agreement.
  • The actions of a government agency or employee damaged or destroyed your property.

However, even though these categories of claims are generally covered, there are exceptions. For example, your claim will not be covered if, as an Oregon State employee, you were injured while performing the duties of your job. In that case, worker’s compensation insurance applies to your injuries. You will also not be able to file a claim under the Oregon Tort Claims Act if it was determined that you were injured due to your own negligence.

Time Limits with Filing a Claim

Claims against the State of Oregon must be filed within 180 days from the date of injury, which may be extended to one year in cases involving wrongful death. An injured or legally-incapacitated person may also be given an additional 90 days following the injury to file their claim.

Limited Monetary Compensation

The amount of monetary compensation available in a claim under the Oregon Tort Claims Act is the most significant limitation. As of July 1, 2016, damage limits in injury or death claims against the State of Oregon are limited to up to $2,073,600 for a single injured person and $4,147,100 for multiple persons injured in the same accident. In cases of severe injury or death, these limitations may be insufficient to cover extraordinary medical expenses, as with Horton v OHSU.