If you suffer an injury due to someone else’s misconduct, you can always file a personal injury lawsuit. If someone else’s misconduct kills you, however, you cannot sue anyone. So, what are the options?
In Oregon, as well as elsewhere in the United States, it is possible to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for the wrongful death of someone else under Oregon’s wrongful death statute.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Almost any personal injury that can kill someone can also generate a wrongful death claim. Following is a listing of the most common.
- Vehicle accidents include car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and others.
- Medical malpractice: Medical malpractice is now the nation’s third-leading cause of death. Medical professionals are subject to a stringent professional standard of care. If they fail to meet this standard and if this failure kills someone, a wrongful death claim arises.
- Workplace accidents: Workers’ compensation has its own wrongful death compensation system that is far less generous than the court compensation system. You can still use the courts, however, under certain circumstances.
- Product liability: You might file a wrongful death lawsuit against a pharmaceutical manufacturer whose product killed your loved one.
- Criminal assault: You can sue a criminal for wrongful death, but they typically lack the money to pay. If you can find a third party, such as a company that provided negligent security, however, you might be in luck.
Many other types of injury claims can generate wrongful death liability.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The personal representative (“executor”) of the deceased victim’s probate estate can file the lawsuit. If there is a last will and testament, it probably names the victim’s choice of executor. If not, the court can appoint someone. A court will probably appoint the surviving spouse if there is one.
You can demand the following compensation from a wrongful death defendant, to the extent they apply:
- Medical expenses;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Lost earnings and benefits by the deceased (including future lost earnings);
- Loss of society and companionship by surviving relatives
- If the defendant’s conduct was outrageous enough, you can seek punitive damages in addition to the above-listed compensation. The court will distribute compensation based on considerations of fairness and justice. If the probate estate paid certain expenses, such as funeral and burial expenses, then the court will reimburse the estate.
The Statute of Limitations Deadline
You must file a wrongful death lawsuit, if at all, within three years of the victim’s date of death. Remember this: it is the date of death that matters, not the date of injury. If you miss the deadline, even in the midst of heated negotiations, your claim will die. After all, if you can’t take the defendant to court, what motivation have they to negotiate with you? A lawyer can help you confirm the statute of limitations deadline for your specific case.
Oregon also llows the deceased victim’s estate to file lawsuits that the deceased could have filed while still alive. It does not involve the accident that killed the victim.
Almost Every Wrongful Death Claim Needs a Lawyer
How much is a human life worth? Everyone knows it’s priceless, but courts are forced to place a dollar value on it every day. That value is typically very high. That is why recovering compensation for the death of a human being is serious business. When the stakes are this high, you do yourself a disservice by failing to hire a lawyer to help you press your claim.
Contact Our Wrongful Death Attorneys in Portland, OR – Schoenfeld & Schoenfeld, P.C. Attorneys at Law
If you were injured in an accident in Portland, OR, please contact our Portland wrongful death lawyers at Schoenfeld & Schoenfeld, P.C. to schedule a free consultation today.
Schoenfeld & Schoenfeld, P.C.
2051 SE Belmont Street
Portland, OR 97214-2812
212 Front Street
Hood River, OR 97031