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Punitive Damage Awards In Portland Personal Injury Claims Punish Particularly Negligent Behavior

Personal injuries in Portland can happen due to motor vehicle crashes, slips and falls, or other types of accidents. When negligence on the part of others is to blame, you have the right to hold them accountable. Filing a personal injury claim can provide compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and other compensation. Our Portland personal injury lawyer explains how, in cases involving gross negligence, you may also be entitled to a punitive damage award. 

What Are Punitive Damages In Personal Injury Claims?

As the name implies, punitive damages punish those at fault in personal injury claims. Under the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS 31.370), they are only available in limited situations. 

If you suffer personal injuries and the at-fault party acted with gross negligence, you may be entitled to punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit in Portland. Gross negligence refers to willful, knowingly reckless, and unreasonable behavior that has a high potential for causing harm or otherwise acting with a conscious indifference to the health, safety, and well-being of others. Examples of gross negligence in a personal injury claim: 

  • Driving with a high blood alcohol content or going at excessively high speeds, particularly in areas of heavy traffic or that are crowded with pedestrians;
  • Refusing to make reasonable repairs to property or not warning visitors of highly dangerous conditions;
  • Attempting to hide product defects and refusing to pull dangerous products from shelves;
  • Knowingly violating local, state, or federal safety rules and regulations;
  • Other actions that show a willful and blatant disregard for the safety of others. 

How Can I Get Punitive Damages In A Portland Personal Injury Claim?

Punitive damages are not available through insurance. You must file a personal injury lawsuit filed through the Multnomah County Civil Court and provide evidence showing the at-fault party acted in a particularly willful and negligent manner. Pursuing a punitive damage award can provide three important benefits for personal injury victims and their families: 

  1. It holds the at-fault party accountable for their behavior and provides a sense of justice;
  2. It sends a strong message to others, helping to prevent them from engaging in similar actions;
  3. Often totaling up to two or three times the total amount of other compensation awarded, punitive damages can represent significant amounts of money. 

Punitive damages are not available in every personal injury claim and Oregon is unusual in handling them. As these awards are designed to punish those at fault (rather than compensating victims), the state is entitled to keep a significant portion of the amount of any punitive damages awarded in your case. 

To Find Out If You May Be Entitled To Punitive Damages, Contact Our Portland Personal Injury Attorneys Today

At the Johnston Law Firm, our Portland personal injury attorneys have decades of experience representing clients in claims. We help you get the maximum amount you are entitled to, which may include punitive damages. To discuss your rights in seeking compensation, call (503) 546-3167 or contact our office online and request a free consultation.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.