Oregon Supreme Court Rules on the Landowner Duties

Joe Di Bartolomeo
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Joe Di Bartolomeo is a top rated personal injury lawyer helping Oregon and Washington families
Posted on Aug 04, 2015

In this case, the Supreme Court for Oregon found that an owner of land has a responsibility of ordinary care to those traveling adjacent to the land.

The Plaintiff was injured when his motorcycle struck a cable line that was strung across a road while looking for property that was for sale. At the trial court, the case was dismissed. The trial court felt that all the evidence showed that the Plaintiff was 100% at fault for causing his own injury. The case went to the Oregon Court of Appeals, which agreed with the trial court. However, the Oregon Supreme Court decided to take a look at the issue.

The Supreme Court sorted through several issues. First, the court found that the trial court was mistaken in concluding that the evidence pointed only to Plaintiff as the cause of his injuries. That question, the Court found, was for a jury to sort out. Also, the Court found that although the landowner had posted a "no trespassing" sign at the road's entrance, there was other evidence showing that the lower parts of the road were open to the public. As a result, the Court found that the landowner owed a duty to the Plaintiff, even though he was not actually on the landowner's property.

Someone injured on another's property faces several challenges in making a claim against the landowner. First, the status of the injured Plaintiff determines the landowner's duty to make the land safe. For example, in this case, the Court addressed the issue of whether the Plaintiff was a trespasser. This is important because generally, landowners do not have to go out of their way to make their land safe or trespassers. Also, Oregon and Washington have recreational land use statutes. The statutes protect landowners from any claims made by people injured on the property for recreational purposes. In Oregon, it is virtually impossible to hold a landowner responsible, even if the landowner was reckless in the way it maintained its property if the recreational land use statute applies. Washington has a different approach, requiring a Plaintiff to prove that the injury causing condition was an  artificial, known, dangerous, and latent condition, and that the landowner should of posted signs warning people of this dangerous condition.

If you have been injured due to a landowner's negligence, contact us at 503-325-8600. We can review your case, and see whether not you have a viable claim against landowner.