ORS 31.600
Contributory negligence not bar to recovery

  • comparative negligence standard
  • third party complaints


Contributory negligence shall not bar recovery in an action by any person or the legal representative of the person to recover damages for death or injury to person or property if the fault attributable to the claimant was not greater than the combined fault of all persons specified in subsection (2) of this section, but any damages allowed shall be diminished in the proportion to the percentage of fault attributable to the claimant. This section is not intended to create or abolish any defense.


The trier of fact shall compare the fault of the claimant with the fault of any party against whom recovery is sought, the fault of third party defendants who are liable in tort to the claimant, and the fault of any person with whom the claimant has settled. The failure of a claimant to make a direct claim against a third party defendant does not affect the requirement that the fault of the third party defendant be considered by the trier of fact under this subsection. Except for persons who have settled with the claimant, there shall be no comparison of fault with any person:


Who is immune from liability to the claimant;


Who is not subject to the jurisdiction of the court; or


Who is not subject to action because the claim is barred by a statute of limitation or statute of ultimate repose.


A defendant who files a third party complaint against a person alleged to be at fault in the matter, or who alleges that a person who has settled with the claimant is at fault in the matter, has the burden of proof in establishing:


The fault of the third party defendant or the fault of the person who settled with the claimant; and


That the fault of the third party defendant or the person who settled with the claimant was a contributing cause to the injury or death under the law applicable in the matter.


Any party to an action may seek to establish that the fault of a person should not be considered by the trier of fact by reason that the person does not meet the criteria established by subsection (2) of this section for the consideration of fault by the trier of fact.


This section does not prevent a party from alleging that the party was not at fault in the matter because the injury or death was the sole and exclusive fault of a person who is not a party in the matter. [Formerly 18.470]

Source: Section 31.600 — Contributory negligence not bar to recovery; comparative negligence standard; third party complaints, https://www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/bills_laws/ors/ors031.­html.

Notes of Decisions

Court has discretion to require jury to make special findings assigning percentage of fault to parties. Hammagren v. Wald Construction, Inc., 274 Or 267, 545 P2d 859 (1976)

Ordinary contributory negligence on the part of a guest passenger is a partial defense resulting in a diminished recovery rather than in no recovery at all. Johnson v. Tilden, 278 Or 11, 562 P2d 1188 (1977)

Comparative negligence of investor, his spouse, and his guardian could not be used as offset to gross negligence of brokerage firm. Ryan v. Foster & Marshall, Inc., 556 F2d 460 (1977)

Comparative negligence doctrine is not applicable to strict liability situations, for Oregon strict liability rule is not based on theory of negligence. Brown v. Link Belt Corp., 565 F2d 1107 (1977)

Where evidence established that, after collision with truck, train came to rest 135 feet beyond point of impact, reasonable minds could differ over relative fault of parties, and it was not error to submit question to jury. Resser v. Boise-Cascade Corp., 284 Or 385, 587 P2d 80 (1978)

Under this section, comparative fault is applicable in strict liability in tort. Baccelleri v. Hyster Co., 287 Or 3, 597 P2d 351 (1979)

Even though doctrine of implied assumption of risk is abolished by [former] ORS 18.475, legislative intent is that conduct which is sometimes labeled assumption of risk but which is subspecies of contributory negligence can be compared in apportioning damages. Baccelleri v. Hyster Co., 287 Or 3, 597 P2d 351 (1979)

Where defendant-sawmill designer alleged contributory negligence and negligent misuse of product as affirmative defenses to strict liability, trial court properly struck affirmative defenses from answer. Holdsclaw v. Warren, 45 Or App 153, 607 P2d 1208 (1980), Sup Ct review denied

An injured person’s conduct which in fact is a cause of the injury and which constitutes “fault”, including negligence, is to be considered in product liability actions, unless user’s alleged negligence consists of the kind of conduct that goes toward making the product dangerously defective in the first place. Sandford v. Chev. Div. of Gen. Motors, 292 Or 590, 642 P2d 624 (1982); Wilson v. B.F. Goodrich, 292 Or 626, 642 P2d 644 (1982)

It was error to instruct jury that landlord was not liable to invitee for injury from condition whose danger is known or obvious to invitee unless harm could nevertheless be anticipated, because such an instruction imports elements of contributory negligence and is, thus, incompatible with comparative negligence statute. Woolston v. Wells, 63 Or App 7, 663 P2d 408 (1983), aff’d 297 Or 548, 687 P2d 144 (1984)

This section addresses itself only to those persons against whom recovery is sought when case is submitted to trier of fact for comparison of fault. Mills v. Brown, 303 Or 223, 735 P2d 603 (1987)

Because there was evidence offered from which jury might have concluded that plaintiff’s injuries were exclusively or primarily result of his failure to fasten his safety belt, and because jury could have found plaintiff’s failure to do so was not reasonable under circumstances, jury should have received evidence offered by defendant on issue of safety belt defense. Dahl v. BMW, 304 Or 558, 748 P2d 77 (1987)

Failure to use safety belt is not properly question of failure to mitigate damages and proper method of raising defense is through allegations of comparative fault. Morast v. James, 304 Or 571, 748 P2d 84 (1987)

Insurer may be vicariously liable for actions of its agents, including counsel it hired to defend its insured. Stumpf v. Continental Casualty Co., 102 Or App 302, 794 P2d 1228 (1990)

Comparative fault applies to actions for gross negligence. DeYoung v. Fallon, 104 Or App 66, 798 P2d 66 (1990), Sup Ct review denied

Under pre-1995 amendment version, beneficiaries of wrongful death action brought by estate are parties to action. Robinson v. Children’s Services Division, 140 Or App 429, 914 P2d 1123 (1996)

In strict products liability case, court must: 1) determine as matter of law whether jury could find that defendant has established comparative fault defense; and 2) if requested, give instruction limiting type of negligent conduct that may be attributed to plaintiff. Hernandez v. Barbo Machinery Co., 327 Or 99, 957 P2d 147 (1998)

Reduction in award for comparative fault of plaintiff is inappropriate where defendant is guilty of willful misconduct. Hampton Tree Farms, Inc. v. Jewett, 158 Or App 376, 974 P2d 738 (1999), Sup Ct review denied

Prohibition against making comparison of defendant’s fault with fault of person who is immune from liability does not prevent consideration of conduct of immune person in determining whether conduct of defendant was substantial factor in causing injury. Lyons v. Walsh and Sons Trucking Co., Ltd., 183 Or App 76, 51 P3d 625 (2002), aff’d on other grounds, 337 Or 319, 96 P3d 1215 (2004)

Intentional misconduct is not “fault” subject to apportionment between defendants or between plaintiff and defendant. Shin v. Sunriver Preparatory School, Inc., 199 Or App 352, 111 P3d 762 (2005), Sup Ct review denied

When read with ORS 31.605 and 31.610, this section sets forth comprehensive system for allocating fault between parties and distributing liability for damages severally in accordance with that allocation. Comparative fault system eliminates need for common-law indemnity claim. Eclectic Investment, LLC v. Patterson, 357 Or 25, 346 P3d 468 (2015)

This section does not preclude comparative fault analysis in case against mental health providers arising from suicide of outpatient. Gardner v. OHSU, 299 Or App 280, 450 P3d 558 (2019), Sup Ct review denied

Law Review Citations

8 WLJ 37-53 (1972); 53 OLR 79-81, 84 (1973); 19 WLR 146 (1983); 69 OLR 147 (1990)

Special motion to strike
Time for filing special motion to strike
Exempt actions
Certain felonious conduct of plaintiff complete defense in tort actions
Liability of radio or television station personnel for defamation
Damages recoverable for defamation by radio, television, motion pictures, newspaper or printed periodical
When general damages allowed
Publication of correction or retraction upon demand
Effect of publication of correction or retraction prior to demand
Publisher’s defenses and privileges not affected
Wrongful use of civil proceeding
Mandatory dispute resolution for certain actions against health practitioners and health care facilities
Definitions for ORS 31.260 to 31.278
Notice of adverse health care incident
Discussion of adverse health care incident
Discussion communications
Payment and resolution
Statute of limitations
Patient representatives
Duties of Oregon Patient Safety Commission
Use of information relating to notice of adverse health care incident
Task Force on Resolution of Adverse Health Care Incidents
Pleading requirements for actions against design professionals
Pleading requirements for actions against real estate licensees
Proof required for claim of economic damages in action arising from injury caused by dog
Presumption of absence of negligence if defendant conducts criminal records check through Department of State Police
“Advance payment” defined
Effect of advance payment
Advance payment for death or personal injury not admission of liability
Advance payment for property damage not admission of liability
Effect of collateral benefits
Contributory negligence not bar to recovery
Special questions to trier of fact
Liability of defendants several only
Setoff of damages not allowed
Doctrines of last clear chance and implied assumption of risk abolished
Right to include medical expenses paid by parent or conservator in action to recover for damages to child
Economic and noneconomic damages separately set forth in verdict
Limitation on award for noneconomic damages in claim for wrongful death
Limitation on recovery of noneconomic damages arising out of operation of motor vehicle
Pleading punitive damages
Standards for award of punitive damages
Distribution of punitive damages
When award of punitive damages against health practitioner prohibited
Evidence of nonuse of safety belt or harness to mitigate damages
Inadmissibility of calculation of future earning potential based on race or ethnicity
Right of contribution among joint tortfeasors
Basis for proportional shares of tortfeasors
Enforcement of right of contribution
Covenant not to sue
Assignment of cause of action against insurer
Action for alienation of affections abolished
Action for criminal conversation abolished
Green check means up to date. Up to date