Fall Injuries

If you have slipped, tripped or fallen at a business or residence it is extremely important that the conditions that caused your fall be documented immediately. Many stores have video surveillance that might have recorded your injury. However, that video will likely be destroyed after a short time. Our firm is very familiar with the law relating to slip-and-falls in Oregon, and the building code requirements that set the safety standards for businesses and retail establishments.

As a customer in a shopping mall, grocery store or any business, you have the legal status of what is called a “business invitee”. This means that under Oregon’s law of “premises liability”, the owner of the business has the obligation to keep the premises reasonably safe for you. If there are any unreasonably dangerous conditions on the premises, the business owner may have the obligation to actually remove the hazard rather than simply warn you.

Tripping or falling claims generally fall into two categories. “Foreign substance” claims involve substances on the floor which make it slippery. If the injured person can establish that the substance was on the floor long enough for the business owner to clean it up, or adequately warn of it, then there may be a recovery against the business. Fall injuries typically involve permanent features of the business which are a hazard, such as sidewalks with improper slope, ramps without handrails or unmarked obstacles in the floor surface.

Call us so we can help protect your rights. (503- 472-3770).

Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bites can have devastating physical and emotional consequences for the victims due to pain, scarring and disfigurement. In Oregon the victim of the bite can recover economic damages such as lost wages and medical expenses without having to prove that the owner should have known the dog would bite. ORS 31.360 (1). This statute makes the owner or possessor of the dog strictly liable for the economic damages caused by the bite, as long as the dog was not provoked. In order to recover non-economic damages, such as physical and emotional pain and suffering, the victim must prove that the dog owner was negligent, which led to the bite.

The long-term effect of a dog bite can be lasting and requires careful evaluation. This firm has tried and successfully settled many claims involving dog bites. We look forward to hearing from you.

Dangerous and Defective Products

Those who market and sell dangerous products are liable for injuries to the users of those products under the law of “Strict Product Liability”. If you have been injured because of a defective and dangerous product, we can help. This firm has handled many product liability cases on behalf of injured persons, and we are very familiar with the requirements of those claims.

Up until a few decades ago, large corporations could keep consumers who were hurt by their defective products from any recovery, because the consumer could not prove that he actually bought the product directly from the manufacturer, but instead purchased it from a retail store or dealership. In response to that need for better consumer protection, the courts of most states developed what has been known as the law of strict product liability. A manufacturer of a defective and unreasonably dangerous product is liable to the user of that product as long as the manufacturer places the product into the stream of commerce, and it reaches the user without substantial change in its condition. The injured party does not have to prove negligence, only that the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous.

A product is not defective just because it is dangerous. For instance, a knife is not defective because it is sharp. However, a knife that is sold with improperly tempered steel that shatters and lacerates the user’s hand would be defective and unreasonably dangerous.

Protect your rights to a fair settlement if you were hurt by a defective product. Call us for an appointment. There is no charge for the first meeting. (503-472-3770).

Bicycle Injuries

The Oregon vehicle code expressly provides that, with few exceptions, every person riding a bicycle upon a public highway is subject to the provisions applicable to, and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle. ORS 814.400 (1). Notwithstanding that, however, bicyclists often sustain catastrophic injuries at the hands of inattentive drivers and from surface defects in roadways. Our firm has successfully handled many cases for cyclists injured by the fault of other drivers and government road authorities.

Call us to discuss. (503-472-3770)

Arbitration

The term “arbitration” refers to a streamlined trial-like process in which the parties present evidence and the arbitrator then renders a decision. Arbitration does not involve a jury. The parties will select one, or sometimes a panel of three, arbitrators who will act as the judge and jury. Arbitration is much faster and less expensive than a full jury trial, which can take several days to over a week.

Some cases are not appropriate for arbitration, but should be resolved instead in front of a jury. Our firm has arbitrated and tried cases for many years. We are very qualified to make the appropriate recommendation to the client as to whether that case should be resolved through arbitration or through a 12-person jury trial.

Mediation

The term “mediation” refers to an informal, voluntary settlement process where the parties to a legal dispute agree on a neutral person (the mediator) to help them resolve their dispute. Mediation is a very effective way to resolve all sorts of legal disputes, from personal injury claims to businesses disputes and other claims. Most mediations are completed in about half a day, some may last a day.

Shortly before the mediation, our firm prepares a confidential pre-mediation evaluation of your case. We send this to the chosen mediator in the strictest privacy to allow the mediator to evaluate the strengths, (and, yes, the weaknesses) that our case might have. The mediator receives a similar confidential submission from the defendant. The mediator’s job is then to ask each side to evaluate its risk. The goal is to reach an acceptable settlement figure that will resolve the case fairly for all concerned.

In most cases the parties are able to reach a settlement. This saves tremendous amounts of money that might otherwise be spent on legal costs, expert witnesses, court costs, and other trial expenses. Our firm is highly skilled in participating in the mediation process. We have worked with dozens of mediators over the years, and can recommend an appropriate mediator for a particular case.

General Civil Trial Practice

In addition to our emphasized areas of practice, we have handled a variety of other civil disputes including:

  1. Business breakups in closely held companies.
  2. Trust and probate disputes and litigation.
  3. Representation of growers and agricultural contractors in crop-related disputes.

In addition, Mr. Norris serves as an arbitrator for both court-annexed arbitration cases in personal injury and business disputes, and contractual arbitration of civil disputes.

The firm’s practice does not extend to family law.

Business Disputes

We represent many small to medium-sized Oregon businesses for advice on litigation prevention, review of contracts, input regarding deals in progress and litigation services if necessary to resolve payment or other business disputes. We try to offer prompt response and availability to answer questions from business owners and management.

We recognize that legal expenses can significantly impact bottom line profitability, so we work hand in hand with our business clients to target the desired outcome while controlling legal costs.

The firm is a member of the McMinnville Area Greater Chamber of Commerce, the McMinnville Downtown Association and the Yamhill County Bar Association. Gary Norris is also a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of McMinnville. He is the club’s 2008-2009 president.

Insurers may be liable to their insureds for attorney fees

Welcome to “Notes on the Law.” We offer this as an educational feature to highlight areas of the law. It is not intended to be legal advice.

Oregon Revised Statute 742.061 provides that:

“If settlement is not made within six months from the date proof of loss is filed with an insurer and an action is brought in any court of the state upon any policy of insurance of any kind or nature, and the Plaintiffs recovery exceeds the amount of any tender made by the Defendant in such action, a reasonable amount to be fixed by the court as attorneys fees shall be taxed as part of the costs of the action and any appeal thereon.”

Oregon Revised Statute 742.061 encourages insurance companies to settle fairly with their insureds or risk attorneys fees in addition to any payment on the loss if the claim is unjustly handled.

In PIP, uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist cases, the insurance company may be able to avoid the attorney fee risk. However, to do that it must, within the six months from the date proof of loss is filed, admit there is coverage for the loss and consent to binding arbitration if the insured and the insurer cannot agree on the value of the claim. If the insurer fails to concede those two points within six months from the date proof of loss is filed, it is liable for the insured’s attorney fees if the insured’s recovery in court exceeds any tender.

Oregon Revised Statute 742.061 does not apply to personal injury actions where an injured claimant sues the actual defendant who caused his injuries. However, the statute is an important consumer protection law that benefits insureds who need to directly sue their own insurance company for not paying fair value on a claim.

Building Contractor Issues

Construction contractors face unique and tough challenges in an ever changing industry environment. Our firm represents contractors on a variety of issues, including but not limited to:

  1. Contract drafting and review.
  2. Project advice regarding change orders, daily situations, progress, payments, etc.
  3. Construction lien practice from pre-lien notices to filing and foreclosure of liens.
  4. Negotiation, advice and litigation services in connection with customer disputes, both residential and commercial.
  5. Wage claim defense.
  6. Representation before the Oregon Construction Contractors Board.
  7. Defense of civil lawsuits filed against the contractor.

We try to manage and resolve any dispute or issue so that our contractor clients can return their full attention to the work of building as soon as possible.