Understanding ORS 20.080 This statute, Oregon Revised Statutes 20.080, allows a plaintiff to make a demand to the at fault party and their insurance company in an amount of up to $10,000 plus PIP under threat that the defendant can be forced to pay for the plaintiff's attorney fees. According to the statute, all necessary documentation should be provided at the time the demand letter is sent to the at fault party and the insurance company. The parties should be given no less than 30 days to respond. After 30 days the plaintiff can accept the settlement offer or can commence litigation. After a jury verdict, the judge can order the insurance company or defendant to pay plaintiff's attorney fees in addition to the verdict IF the verdict is more than the pre-litigation settlement offer. Taking advantage of ORS 20.080 without an attorney Frequently, people have called me regarding bodily injury or property damage claims that might be considered "small". Though I believe having an attorney is the strongest position, I sometimes suggest to these callers to review ORS 20.080 and then draft their own demand letter. I recommend that the demand letter and all associated documents be sent to both the at fault driver and the insurance company in two ways: by first class mail and also by certified mail, return receipt requested. The demand letter should specifically mention ORS 20.080, allow 30 days for a response with the threat of a lawsuit at that time, and explain that attorney fees can be ordered if the jury gives a higher verdict than the offer made within 30 days. I also recommend informing in the demand letter that an Oregon attorney has been contacted and is ready and willing to litigate if the demand is not met. All of this might help one to receive a better settlement offer. Taking full advantage of ORS 20.080 by having an attorney If a plaintiff makes a demand pursuant to ORS 20.080 without an attorney, the insurance adjuster might not take the bait; after all, the real threat to the insurance company or the at fault party is that attorney fees may be added to a jury verdict, not to a pre-litigation settlement offer. Therefore, it may be necessary to hire an attorney to do a 20.080 demand to get the most out of the statute. Things to remember 1) ORS 20.080 applies to bodily injury or property damages cases of up to $10,000 plus PIP. Therefore, if the total value of the bodily injury or property damage is slightly more than $10,000 plus PIP then you might consider decreasing the demand to an even $10,000 plus PIP in order to take advantage of the statute. 2) ORS 20.080 applies only to cases that can be filed in Oregon. As an example, a car accident that occurs in the State of Washington is likely not a candidate for ORS 20.080. 3) If the PIP carrier has paid medical bills, make the demand for no more than $10,000 "plus PIP" or "exclusive of PIP". 4) Consider using ORS 20.080 when an uninsured driver has caused an accident and you don't have Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) coverage available or a property damage deductible has to be paid. 5) ORS 20.080 does not apply solely to car accidents - it may be used in various torts such as slip and fall accidents, bicycle accidents, products liability, etc. 6) Hire an attorney if the settlement offer is not reasonable! Additional considerations To get the full benefit of ORS 20.080, I would recommend using an experienced Oregon personal injury attorney. A good attorney can help you avoid problems relating to medical bills, liens, shrewd insurance adjusters, and other pitfalls. Though it is possible to settle an injury claim without the advice of an attorney, it is not recommended. You can review the text of ORS 20.080 by clicking the link below labeled Annotated Oregon Laws. Call me at (503) 990-6641 if you would like to discuss your case with me. Real life example of using ORS 20.080 in litigation A client was injured in a car accident and made a demand to the insurance company using ORS 20.080. Despite evidence of negligence and real injuries, the insurance company questioned the injuries and would not make an offer. On behalf of the client, the firm sued the at-fault driver after making demand based on ORS 20.080 and the case proceeded to a jury trial. The jury agreed that the other driver was at fault and that our client suffered injury and, therefore, awarded money to the client. Because the jury verdict was better than the offer after we made demand per ORS 20.080, the trial judge ordered the defendant's insurance company to pay the plaintiff's attorney fees! The firm added up hours, conservatively, and the judge made the insurance company pay $8,000.00 in attorney fees IN ADDITION TO the jury verdict. Our client did not have to pay us for all the hours we spent on the case, but the insurance company surely did!