What is 20.080 and how can it help me?
You may have heard lawyers talking in pure numbers, like “twenty-dot-oh-eight-oh.” What is that? Well, Oregon has a state law, ORS 20.080, which is designed to help people with small injury claims. Here is how it works: Ordinarily your lawyer would get paid a percentage of your total recovery, so if you win a judgment of $100,000 typically your lawyer will take 30-40% to cover their fee. This usually still leaves you with plenty of money to pay bills and compensate you for your pain and suffering.
However in a minor accident you may only have a few thousand in bills and a quick recovery, maybe you deserve $5,000 all together. That means if you are awarded that amount you would only really get around three thousand. This lowers your incentive to hire a lawyer and gives the insurance companies a big advantage in negotiating with you. Enter ORS 20.080. This statute awards legal fees to the prevailing party. That means that you get to keep the full $5,000 and your lawyer gets their full fee paid by the other side.
In practice this law requires us to jump through several hoops. We will need to compile all the information about your claim, send a demand letter to the other party and wait 30 days for an offer. Often the other party won’t give an offer or will give a very low offer. After 30 days we can file a lawsuit and then if we beat their offer we can take advantage of ORS 20.080.