Degree of Fault Is Critical

This segment of The Law and You focuses on the evolution of the concept of liability or fault in determining who wins and for how much in civil justice cases.


JOEL: This is Joel Block for The Law and You with Eugene attorney Don Corson. Don, what happens when the responsibility for injuries is not clear?

DON: Joel, our civil justice system is based on fault. If there is fault on both sides, the percentage of negligence determines who wins and for how much. That’s called comparative negligence, because the jury compares the negligence of each side.

JOEL: When did this come about?

DON: Many years ago, there was strict liability: if you broke it, you bought it. During the nineteenth century, injuries and deaths were common in factories and farms. The laws were changed from strict liability to fault-based to further the economic expansion. Today in Oregon, generally, if you are more than 50% at fault, you lose the case. If the other side is more at fault than you, your recovery is decreased by your percentage of the fault.

JOEL: Thank you, Don. If you have a legal question or for a copy of How the Law Works, visit The Law and You is a public service and does not replace the advice of an attorney.​

The Corson & Johnson Law Firm, an Oregon personal injury trial law firm, produced and distributed The Law and You as a public service to help families and consumers answer questions about our legal system and how it works for them. The Law and You spots were aired on KKNU, KMGE, KEUG, and KODZ.  Please note that laws may have changed since a public service spot was aired.  If you have suggestions for legal questions or topics you would like addressed, please contact us.