Portland Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one can be a very difficult experience, especially if someone else is responsible for his or her passing. In these situations, however, you may have options for justice. Oregon wrongful death lawsuits allow you to hold negligent individuals accountable for their actions, enabling your family to recover compensation for the losses your loved one experienced due to the at-fault party’s actions. The Portland wrongful death attorneys at DuBois Law Group can fight for justice on your loved one’s behalf, helping your family recover the compensation you deserve.
Why Choose A Portland Wrongful Death Lawyer From DuBois Law Group?
- Our Portland personal injury attorneys understand how painful a wrongful death claim can be. You will always be able to ask questions and receive support from your wrongful death lawyer throughout the claim.
- Our firm handles a small number of cases at a time, ensuring that our attorneys can provide your case with the attention and dedication you deserve.
- Our attorneys will handle all aspects of your family’s wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf, allowing you to focus on healing instead of litigation.
What Are Some Causes Of Wrongful Death In Portland?
Wrongful deaths occur when someone’s wrongful actions or omissions cause the death of another person. Under Oregon law, wrongful death can be caused by an act of negligence, an intentional instance of violence, or medical malpractice. In simple terms, if your loved one could have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party, your family likely has grounds for a wrongful death claim.
At DuBois Law Group, our Portland personal injury lawyers handle a wide range of wrongful death claims involving multiple types of accidents. Examples of cases we handle include the following.
- Pedestrian accidents
- Defective product injuries
- Truck accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Catastrophic injuries
- Uber and Lyft collisions
- Premises liability
If your loved one was wrongfully killed as the result of a car accident, we’re here to help, please reach out to our Portland car accident lawyers today to review your case.
What Is “Wrongful Death” under Oregon Law?
The loss of any loved one can feel extremely painful and traumatic. However, not all deaths qualify for a lawsuit. In Oregon, you can only file a wrongful death claim if your loved one’s passing meets certain criteria as defined by state law.
According to Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 30.020, wrongful death is one that is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another person or entity. If the deceased person could have filed a personal injury lawsuit had he or she survived the incident, his or her case likely qualifies for a wrongful death action.
In Oregon, wrongful death can occur as a result of any of the following incidents.
- Intentional acts, such as assault, homicide, or other crime
- Negligence-based incidents, such as motor vehicle collisions, slip, and fall accidents, and encounters with dangerous or defective products
- Medical malpractice, or a healthcare professional’s failure to uphold the standard of care when treating a patient
A key part of wrongful death claims is the negligence, recklessness, or violence of another liable party. For example, if your loved one passes away in a car accident, your family would not qualify for a wrongful death action if he or she was responsible for the collision.
However, if a doctor misdiagnosed a loved one or made a negligent medical mistake, you may qualify for legal action. In this situation, you would need to speak to a Portland medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your case.
If you are unsure whether your loved one’s case qualifies for a wrongful death claim, contact an attorney at the DuBois Law Group as soon as possible. Your attorney can analyze your loved one’s case and identify the legal pathways available to your family.
Who Can File a Portland Wrongful Death Claim?
Since the deceased person is not able to file a wrongful death claim on his or her own behalf, another party is responsible for bringing this lawsuit to civil court. Many states have strict laws on who can file a wrongful death claim, including Oregon.
Under Oregon law, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is the only party who can file a wrongful death claim. The deceased person will likely have named his or her personal representative in his or her will or estate plan. If your loved one did not leave behind these documents or did not name a personal representative, the court can appoint one on his or her behalf.
Who Benefits from a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims provide compensation in the form of a settlement to alleviate the financial losses stemming from the victim’s death, as well as the pain and suffering that their family member experienced. While no amount of money could ever reverse the loss of a loved one, a settlement can help families on their path to recovery.
The people who can recover compensation from a wrongful death claim are known as beneficiaries. According to ORS 30.020, the following individuals are entitled to damages from a wrongful death lawsuit.
- The deceased person’s husband or wife
- The deceased person’s registered domestic partner
- The children of the deceased person
- The stepchildren of the deceased person
There are additional beneficiaries if the deceased person does not have a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner, or any surviving children or stepchildren. In these situations, the deceased person’s parents or siblings may pursue a wrongful death action, as long as these individuals relied on the deceased person for support.
If you are unsure whether you qualify as a beneficiary in a wrongful death claim, it is important to speak with a lawyer from DuBois Law Group as soon as possible. Depending on your circumstances, your attorney can help you and your family understand the options available to you.
What Compensation Is Available in an Oregon Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Damages refer to the types of compensation that you could recover in a civil lawsuit. Like other areas of wrongful death law, Oregon has strict rules regarding what types of compensation the beneficiaries can claim.
The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to compensate the deceased person’s estate and surviving family members for several types of losses that have occurred as a result of the person’s death. In Oregon, these damages include the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages and benefits that the deceased could have reasonably earned had he or she survived the final injury or illness
- The pain and suffering that the deceased person experienced between the time of his or her injury and his or her death
- The medical and hospital expenses that the deceased person incurred as a result of his or her final injury
- The loss of society, companionship, and services that the deceased person provided to his or her family
- Punitive damages in cases where the at-fault party acted with extreme negligence or intentionally caused the death
It is very important to accurately calculate the value of a wrongful death settlement, but many of these damages can be difficult to quantify. By working with an attorney from DuBois Law Group, you and your family can gain an accurate picture of your potential award and advocate aggressively for maximum compensation.
Could Comparative Negligence Affect a Wrongful Death Claim?
In some cases, a deceased person may be considered to be partially responsible for the accident that caused his or her death. In these situations, the settlement that his or her family is eligible to collect may be reduced by the percentage of liability that he or she allegedly shared. This is known as comparative negligence.
According to Oregon’s modified comparative negligence laws, the court will reduce a wrongful death settlement by the percentage of fault that it assigns to the plaintiff. If the deceased person is more than 49% responsible for the accident, the family will be barred from recovering any compensation.
For example, say that your family requests a $100,000 settlement. However, the court determines that your loved one was 20% responsible for the accident. Your family would only be able to recover $80,000. If the court had assigned the deceased person 60% of the liability, the settlement would be reduced to zero.
How Long Do You Have to File an Oregon Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Like most civil lawsuits, wrongful death claims in Oregon are subject to a rule known as the statute of limitations. This law establishes a filing deadline for certain claims, and if you do not file the lawsuit within the appropriate time period, the court will likely dismiss the case. For wrongful death lawsuits, you have three years from the date of your loved one’s final injury to file your claim.
How to Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to present the strongest possible case to the courtroom. Usually, these lawsuits involve the presence of negligence, or a person’s failure to uphold a certain duty of care.
There are four elements of negligence in a wrongful death case: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Your attorney will work closely with you to gather enough supporting evidence to prove each of these elements and establish the at-fault party’s liability for your loved one’s death.
Duty of Care
First, you will need to show that the person or entity responsible owed your loved one a duty of care at the time of the incident. This means that the at-fault party had a responsibility to take steps to prevent harm. The duty of care will depend on the specific circumstances of your loved one’s death.
Below are a few examples of duty of care:
- A motor vehicle driver must follow Oregon traffic laws and drive his or her vehicle carefully for the conditions.
- A property owner has a responsibility to ensure that his or her premises are in safe condition, inspect the property regularly, and fix any hazards when necessary.
- A medical professional has a duty to act in a way that a reasonable and similarly trained professional would do under the same circumstances.
To prove that the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care, you need to present evidence that establishes this relationship. For example, if the death occurred in a car accident, you could supply a police report that names the defendant as someone who was involved in the collision. care.
Breach of Duty
Once you have established the duty of care, you need to prove that the at-fault party breached this duty through a negligent act, failure to act, or intent. This means that the defendant did something that he or she should not have done, which ultimately caused your loved one’s death.
For example, a driver who drives while under the influence of alcohol or drugs commits an illegal, reckless act and breaches his or her duty of care. A doctor who fails to read a patient’s chart and administers a medication to which he or she is allergic breaches the duty to uphold the medical standard of care.
Several pieces of evidence can help establish the breach of duty, such as:
- Police reports
- Surveillance footage
- Witness testimony
- Photographs and videos
Next, you will need to show that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused your loved one’s death. It is not enough to show that the breach of duty occurred; you must connect it to the death of your loved one. Simply put, you must show that the death would not have happened if not for the defendant’s actions.
For example, say that a distracted driver was using his cell phone, which is caught by surveillance footage when he runs a red light and collides head-on with your loved one’s car, causing fatal injuries. Your loved one would not have been killed had the driver upheld the duty of care and stopped at the light.
Finally, you will need to show that your family and your loved one suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s actions. You can then recover financial compensation in the lawsuit to help pay for these losses, such as:
- Loss of future income
- Pain and suffering
- Hospital bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
What’s the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action?
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you may have heard about another type of legal claim called a survival action. While these claims are similar in that they both involve a deceased victim, they are actually quite different.
A wrongful death lawsuit is filed after someone dies at the hands of another person or entity, and a survival action is a continuation of a personal injury case filed before the plaintiff’s death. In a survival action, the plaintiff’s death does not need to have been caused by the defendant’s actions. In a wrongful death claim, the defendant’s negligence must have caused the death.
Damages in a Survival Action versus a Wrongful Death Claim
The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to reimburse the beneficiaries of the deceased person as well as his or her estate. On the other hand, a survival action seeks to repay a deceased person’s family members for the damages that he or she would have been awarded in the personal injury claim had he or she survived.
Below are some of the damages that can be awarded in a survival action:
- Medical expenses incurred by the victim prior to his or her death
- Pain and suffering that the victim experienced as a result of his or her injuries
- Lost wages that the victim incurred as a result of his or her injuries
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Survival Action?
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Oregon, you need to file the claim within two years from the deceased’s date of death. Survival actions have a different statute of limitations. Typically, these claims must be filed within two years from the date that the injury occurred or six months after the deceased person’s death, whichever is later.
Who Can File a Survival Action on Behalf of a Deceased Person?
Because the deceased person cannot represent himself or herself in court, Oregon law has strict rules regarding who may file a survival action or a wrongful death lawsuit. Only the personal representative or executor of the deceased’s estate may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. The same rule applies to survival actions.
The deceased person would have likely named the personal representative in his or her will. However, not everyone leaves this document behind. If there is no will, the court will appoint a personal representative to act on the deceased person’s behalf.
Do You Need a Lawyer for a Survival Action?
Whenever you go to court, legal representation is critical to maximizing your chances of a successful outcome. If you have a loved one who died before his or her personal injury case reached a resolution, you need an attorney on your side who can guide your family through the survival action process.
Your attorney can help you understand the steps that you need to take during litigation, prepare all of the necessary paperwork, and build a strong case for your loved one’s right to compensation. As soon as possible following your loved one’s death, contact a Portland wrongful death attorney from DuBois Law Group to plan your next steps.
Why You Need a Portland Wrongful Death Attorney
A wrongful death lawsuit can be a stressful and emotionally draining experience. In these situations, you need all the support that you can receive.
By hiring a Portland wrongful death attorney from DuBois Law Group, you get access to an advocate who will fight for the rights of your family and help you seek justice for your loved one. Our firm can provide several important benefits for your case:
- Knowledge of the litigation process
- Experience representing wrongful death claims in court
- The ability to negotiate with insurance companies and defense attorneys on your behalf
- Knowledge of case strategies that he or she can use to strengthen your case
- Access to expert witnesses who can testify on your behalf
- The ability to calculate your family’s potential settlement
Contact A Portland Wrongful Death Lawyer At DuBois Law Group
Have you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person? In these situations, trust the Portland wrongful death attorneys at DuBois Law Group to hold the at-fault party accountable and secure the justice your family deserves. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your next steps. (503) 222-4411