FILING A CIVIL LAWSUIT IN OREGON
When a case cannot settle due to no settlement offer or an insufficient settlement offer, the best option may be to file a civil lawsuit. Lawsuits are also filed when the statute of limitations is imminent and there is not enough time for settlement negotiations.
A document called a Complaint commences a lawsuit. There are three basic components to the Complaint:
- The Facts section: A simplified version of facts outlining how plaintiff was legally wronged.
- The Cause(s) of Action Section: The facts are applied to the law to show how the plaintiff was legally wronged by the defendant.
- The Prayer Section: In the Prayer section the plaintiff outlines the damages sought.
Once the Complaint has been filed, the next step is to serve a copy of the Complaint and a copy of a Summons upon each individual defendant.
Summons: The document that informs defendants they are being sued. Because it is important that the defendants be served copies of the Complaint and their Summons, Oregon law requires that an independently contracted Process Server deliver these documents to all defendants. (See Oregon Rule of Civil Procedure 7)
Some cases settle shortly after filing. If the case is not settled shortly after filing, the discovery process begins where the attorneys exchange information and depositions are scheduled. Depending on the amount of the lawsuit, it will either go to arbitration or trial.
What are depositions? Depositions are where each attorney has the opportunity to question the opposing party to a lawsuit. Depositions are sworn statements that are recorded by a court reporter. Sometimes witnesses are even called to be questioned by both attorneys. If a person is deposed and later changes his or her testimony, then the transcribed deposition testimony can be used to discredit the witness.
In addition to attorney fees what are the expenses (hard costs) of litigating a case? Below are examples of litigation expenses:
Filing fees are fees the Oregon courts charge to file lawsuits. Filing fee costs depend on how much in damages the plaintiff is seeking. Currently, filing fee costs in Oregon amount to:
|Prayer Amount||Filing Fee|
|Between $10,000.00 and $50,000.00||$252.00|
|Between $50,000.00 and $1,000,000.00||$531.00|
|Between $1,000,000.00 and $10 million||$793.00|
|Over $10 million||$1,056.00|
Note: The Oregon Courts may change filing fee schedules without notice.
Process fees are the charges that process servers charge to serve documents on defendants. The exact amount that process servers charge in process fees depends upon several factors including but not limited to:
- Location where the defendant can be served;
- Difficulty in finding the defendant;
- Number of defendants that must be served; and
- The extent to which the defendant evades service.
- The likelihood of the defendant becoming violent during service.
Typically service of process fees in the Portland Metro Area are under $100.00. However, these fees may be higher if the defendant is difficult to serve. Service fees for individuals who live outside the Portland Metro can be considerably higher. In some extreme cases, such as when a defendant lives outside the United States, service fees can reach into the thousands of dollars.
- Deposition fees: This depends on how long the deposition lasts and whether or not we want transcripts of the deposition.
- Postage, photocopies, parking, mileage
- Medical Records (Most medical providers charge $30.00 for the first page and .25 cents thereafter, as these are the maximum limits under ORS 192.521.
- Investigative fees. Some, but not all cases, require investigative fees. Most investigators charge around $50.00 – $75.00hour.
- Arbitration or Jury Trial fees.
- Expert witness fees: Most expert medical providers in the Portland area charge $3,000.00 – $12,000.00 or more to testify at trial. A cost-benefit analysis from a legal and business perspective should be used to determine if an expert witness is worth hiring. Expert witnesses are usually necessary for a jury trial to meet evidentiary standards.