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What is the Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Suits in Oregon?

Coping with the loss of a loved one takes a significant emotional toll under any circumstances. If another person’s negligence caused your loved one’s death, bringing a lawsuit against that person may be the furthest thing from your mind. Thinking about getting involved in a wrongful death lawsuit can understandably seem overwhelming. However, it is crucial to understand that you only have a limited time to file a lawsuit. If you do not file the wrongful death lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you will lose the right to bring a lawsuit.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

In Oregon, a wrongful death lawsuit allows a victim’s family to seek compensation for their loved one’s death. As the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit, you can obtain financial compensation for the economic and non-economic damages you have incurred due to your loved one’s untimely death. Seeking compensation for a wrongful death lawsuit can help you ensure that your family has a more steady financial position after your loved one has passed away.

The statute of limitations in a wrongful death lawsuit limits the time a victim’s family and beneficiaries have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault parties. In Oregon, certain family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit through the deceased individual’s estate. Every state has statutes of limitations that limit someone’s ability to bring a particular type of lawsuit.

We have statutes of limitations so that people can settle their disputes within a certain amount of time. The sooner a person brings a lawsuit, the more evidence will be available, and the more the witnesses will remember what took place accurately. Different types of legal claims have different kinds of statutes of limitations, and the laws vary between states.

The Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In Oregon, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within three years of the accident or injury causing death. The same statute of limitations applies for wrongful death lawsuits in Washington state. Suppose your loved one died in a head-on collision caused by a drunk driver on January 1, 2020. In that case, you would have three years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If your loved one’s personal representative failed to file a lawsuit before January 1st, 2023, the personal representative would be barred from bringing a lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits frequently involve deaths caused by:

  • Trucking accident
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Automobile accidents
  • Defective products
  • On-the-job accidents

Discovery Rule

The general rule for wrongful death lawsuits is that the personal representative must file the lawsuit within three years of the victim’s death. However, there are several exceptions to this time frame. One of these exceptions is called the discovery rule. In rare cases, a judge may permit someone to bring a wrongful death lawsuit outside the statute of limitations when the person did not know about the actual cause of death until later. In these situations, the family members do not learn about the cause of their loved one’s death until after their loved one dies.

For example, suppose a surgeon cut a patient’s artery by accident during surgery. As a result, the patient died from blood loss. The surgeon tried to cover up the incident, so the family assumed that their loved one died from normal surgery complications. However, they later discovered that the doctor’s negligence caused their loved one’s death. In this case, the court may give the family three years from the day they discovered the negligence that resulted in their loved one’s death. In other cases, the court will give the claimant three years from when they could have reasonably discovered the cause of their loved one’s death.

Do Not Wait to Contact a Lawyer

Wrongful death cases can be some of the most complex personal injury lawsuits. Even though three years may seem like a long time, especially after a loved one’s unexpected death, it’s a relatively short time frame. The process leading up to filing a wrongful death lawsuit will be filled with a thorough investigation. Your lawyer will need as much time as possible to interview witnesses, gather evidence, and discuss your loved one’s death with experts.

Building a solid frame for your case requires your attorney to gather a significant amount of evidence linking the at-fault defendant to your loved one’s death. If you wait too long, you may find it challenging to find a lawyer who will represent you. Lawyers know that they need enough time to prepare before they bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

You don’t want to risk the court barring you from pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit because the statute of limitations has run out. At DuBois Law Group, we offer a free initial consultation so you can discuss the statute of limitations in your case and any other questions you have without worrying about paying for the visit.

Discuss Your Case With a Skilled Oregon Wrongful Death Lawyer

Are you struggling with the unexpected and wrongful death of someone you love due to another person’s negligence? If so, you don’t have to go through the process alone. Thinking about filing a lawsuit may seem overwhelming during this time of sadness and grief for your loved one. At DuBois Law Group, our compassionate lawyers understand the difficulties faced by grieving families.

We work diligently to represent families so they can recover the compensation they deserve and hold the at-fault party accountable. Our legal team can guide you through a wrongful death lawsuit and provide you with the excellent legal representation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation to speak to an attorney about your case.