Corson & Johnson

Making Sure the Law Works For Everyone

December 2011 Tort Tips

December 2011 Tort Tips

Punitive Damages Changes

Until recently, Oregon has required that personal injury plaintiffs give 60% of any punitive damages recovery to the state’s Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

This past session, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3525, which amended the punitive damages statute so that personal injury plaintiffs must now give 70% of any punitive damage recovery to the state.  The first 60% is earmarked for the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, and the additional 10% is for the Oregon Judicial Department as a strategy to obtain additional revenue in the face of recent budget shortfalls.

Also of note, unlike the compensatory damages recovered in a personal injury action, a plaintiff’s punitive damages are taxable income under the federal tax code.  And, under federal law, a plaintiff may not take an above-the-line deduction for the attorney fees incurred to obtain the punitive damages. Rather, the plaintiff can only claim those attorney fees as a below-the-line deduction that is subject to the 2% floor and the overall deduction limit.   In some circumstances, those tax implications could cause a plaintiff to owe more money to the federal government than he or she actually received from the punitive damages recovery.

As a consequence, a plaintiff attorney in Oregon must thoroughly consider tax implications before advising a client to pursue a punitive damages claim in any case, even in cases such as child sex abuse, where the defendant’s conduct is exceptionally egregious.

The Law & You 2011 Lineup

We all have had questions about laws and how the law works. The Law and You community service radio program covers how the law affects you. The topics include:

Insurance disputes- required faster resolutions of insurance claims
Riding lawnmowers safety-part of our Safer Oregon for Children initiative
18 wheeler and large trucks- proposed new rules for more driving hours
Water safety and proper equipment- new regulations and free life jacket loaners
Adult drugs and childhood poisoning- protecting children from accidental poisoning
Generic drugs- side effects of original drug not always updated for generics
Crash notification- new law requires a written report
Brain injury prevention- part of our Safer Oregon for Children  initiative
Propane gas tanks- when inspections and licensing requirements are not met
Pesticide use in playgrounds- considering alternatives to pesticides

Tune in to hear advice and tips on these topics. This is a community service and does not replace the advice of an attorney.

Recent Cases

Oregon Supreme  Court Victory

Our successful seven year fight on behalf of Tammy Matson finally came to an end.  After a plaintiff’s verdict at trial and a unanimous Oregon Court of Appeals affirmation, the Oregon Supreme Court denied the defendant’s petition for review.   The verdict became worth over $2.7 million with post-judgment interest.  Our congratulations go to Tammy, our co-counsel Phil Gilbert, and the entire trial and appeal team. READ ABOUT THE CASE

Nursing Facilities Elder Abuse

The skilled nursing facility ignored medical instructions, which led to our client falling and sustaining significant spinal injuries. The case settled on the second morning of the trial.

18-Wheeler Wrongful Death

An improperly loaded tractor-trailer rig was hauling two trailers that were 20,000 lbs. over the legal weight.  In addition, the load of hay bales where not properly secured and the rig had more than 23 safety violations.  READ ABOUT THE CASE

Insurance Company Required to Pay Under-insured Motorist Claim

Our client sustained permanent injuries when a pick-up truck hit her car head-on.  Her insurance company refused to pay fairly under her underinsured motorist coverage, including extensive medical bills.   READ ABOUT THE CASE

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