Wrongful Death Laws in Oregon
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The unexpected passing of a family member or loved one can affect a family in many ways. In addition to dealing with the emotional aspect of the situation, the surviving family members are also forced to face the financial realities. For instance, the surviving family members are often left scrambling and wondering how future bills and expenses will be paid for.
In these scenarios, a wrongful death cause of action may be available to help seek compensation on behalf of the deceased. Wrongful death lawsuits are a type of civil action that are brought against a person or entity who can be held liable for the death of another individual. Because wrongful death causes of action are established by individual state law, it is difficult to provide a one-size-fits-all description of a wrongful death claim.
If you have experienced the death of loved one, or if you would like to learn more about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our wrongful death attorneys.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Oregon?
In general, a wrongful death lawsuit is a type of civil claim typically brought by the surviving members of a deceased individual against another person or entity who can be held liable for the death. A wrongful death claim exists when a person dies due to the legal fault of another person. If successful, a wrongful death suit can provide financial compensation in the form of money damages to the party who brought the lawsuit.
Broadly speaking, any fatality caused by the wrongful acts of another may result in a wrongful death claim. The State of Oregon defines wrongful death as one that is “caused by the wrongful act or omission of another”. The “wrongful act or omission” of the person or entity that led to the death of the individual includes behavior that is intentional, reckless, or negligent.
The Oregon wrongful death statute essentially treats a wrongful death claim as a personal injury claim that the deceased individual would have been able to bring if death had not occurred. This means that if the actions of the at-fault party would have entitled the deceased to pursue a personal injury claim, then the survivors of the deceased will be able to pursue a wrongful death claim in order to establish the defendant’s liability and seek damages.
It should be noted that although the circumstances of a case may prompt law enforcement and prosecutors to criminally charge a defendant, a private civil wrongful death action may still be pursued in civil court. However, because the interaction of criminal and civil cases arising from the same occurrence may pose challenging legal questions, it is worth discussing your options with a wrongful death attorney.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim in Oregon?
In Oregon, a wrongful death claim can be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. This personal representative is often designated by name in the deceased’s estate plan. Common choices include surviving spouses, adult siblings, or adult children of the deceased.
Oregon law also allows other family members of the deceased, such as surviving grandparents, surviving stepparents, or surviving stepchildren, to file a wrongful death claim.
What Damages are Available in an Oregon Wrongful Death Claim?
A successful wrongful death claim will lead to compensation in the form money damages. These damages are intended to compensate the surviving family members for losses related to the death. In Oregon the damages recoverable for a wrongful death claim may include the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical and hospital expenses related to the death
- Compensation for the pain and suffering experienced between injury and death
- Lost wages and benefits, including the value of compensation the deceased person would reasonably have earned in the future if he or she had continued to live
- Loss of care, companionship, comfort, and guidance suffered by the surviving family members as a result of the death
- Compensation for pecuniary losses to the decedent’s estate
Under certain circumstances, punitive damages may also be available. Unlike typical compensatory damages, which are intended to make a party whole, punitive damages are intended to punish acts which are particularly egregious or reckless.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Oregon?
Oregon law mandates that a wrongful death claim be filed within three years of the date of the injury that ultimately led to the deceased’s death. This statute of limitations means that wrongful death claims filed more than three years after the date of the injury — not the date of the death — are effectively barred from being litigated in court.
This element of Oregon’s wrongful death statute can pose challenging legal issues, particularly if a significant amount of time passes between the date of the injury and the date of death. Additionally, certain circumstances may exist which can pause or “toll” this three-year time period. For these reasons, it is worth discussing your case with a attorney who may be able to provide valuable information and guidance regarding Oregon’s statute of limitations.
Understanding the details of a wrongful death claim can ultimately provide you and your family with valuable information in the event that you or a family member experience the loss of a loved one. In a moment where stress is likely to be at an all-time high, some solace can be found in knowing that there is a way to pursue compensation for your losses.
At Zinda Law Group, our attorneys have plenty of experience litigating and resolving wrongful death cases. Our team has the resources necessary to help build the strongest claim following the death of a loved one. Our attorneys are on stand-by, waiting to help grieving family members seek fair compensation for their losses.
If you would like to discuss the details of your case with an experienced wrongful death lawyer, or if you would like to learn more about filing a wrongful death claim, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free case evaluation.
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