When you lose a loved one in a preventable accident, it changes your life. A single negligent action by a drunk driver, careless property manager, or unskilled product developer can leave you without the love and financial support of a partner, parent, or child. If that happens to you, we firmly believe you are entitled to justice.
The wrongful death attorneys at Harris Velázquez Gibbens can help you file a wrongful death claim against the party or parties that caused the fatal accident. We offer compassionate support and honest guidance to help you make informed decisions in challenging circumstances. To learn more about your rights when it comes to wrongful death claims, we invite you to speak to a personal injury lawyer at our Hillsboro law firm.
Bringing a Wrongful Death Claim in Oregon
If you lose a loved one in a mishap or accident caused by another party, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. The first step is to prove that another party caused or contributed to the fatal accident, as establishing liability is crucial. You also want to verify that if your loved one had survived, they could have filed a personal injury claim against the party who hurt them.
A wrongful death may result from:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Dangerous products
- Dog attacks
- Slip and fall accidents
If you are not sure who is at fault for the accident, our wrongful death lawyers can launch an investigation and help you take steps to hold all liable parties responsible for your losses.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Oregon?
Some states allow the family members of the deceased to file a claim for wrongful death. In Oregon, however, the only person who can file a lawsuit is the personal representative (sometimes known as the “executor”) of the estate. If the deceased had prepared a will, a personal representative would have been named there. In the absence of a will, or if the named representative is unavailable, the court will appoint someone in the following order:
- The deceased person’s surviving spouse or nominee
- The deceased person’s closest living relative or nominee
- A distributee of the estate
- The Director of the Oregon Health Authority or Director of Human Services (if applicable)
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (if applicable)
- Any other person
In Oregon, an individual may be able to recover compensation if they were:
- A spouse of the deceased individual;
- A child or stepchild of the deceased; or
- A parent or stepparent of the deceased.
Oregon’s statute further states that a person may also be able to recover damages from a wrongful death action if they would be entitled to inherit property from the deceased individual who was intestate or passed away without a will.
If your deceased loved one did not name a personal representative or died intestate, a Hillsboro wrongful death lawyer at Harris Velázquez Gibbens can guide you through the process of seeking an appointment and pursuing a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful Death Damages
A successful wrongful death suit can cover economic and non-economic losses associated with the death. These damages may include:
- Medical bills incurred by the person before they died
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of care, companionship, and guidance
- The pain and suffering the deceased experienced between injury and death
Punitive damages may also be available if the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious. For example, if a drunk driver killed your loved one, the court may award additional compensation to punish that individual and deter future instances of drunk driving. An award of punitive damages is controlled by state statutes.
Wrongful Death Claim vs. Survivor Action in Oregon
Although wrongful death claims and survivor actions can arise after a person dies due to someone else’s negligence, they are not the same process.
A survival action occurs when someone dies after the beginning of a lawsuit or at a point between when the negligent action occurs and the lawsuit is filed. Unlike a wrongful death claim, this kind of action can address conduct unrelated to the person’s death.
For example, if your loved one is injured by a distracted driver, sues that driver, and dies later due to an unrelated cause, you (or whoever is named the personal representative of the deceased’s estate) can continue the legal action. If the claim succeeds, you can recover damages that your loved one suffered in the car accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Survivor actions in Oregon must be initiated by the personal representative within three years of a person’s death, if they weren’t initiated prior to death. A claim initiated prior to death is subject to a two-year statute of limitations.
Oregon Wrongful Death FAQ
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Oregon?
The Oregon statute of limitations is generally three years from the date the deceased suffered their final injury (not the day they died). If the claim is not filed before the deadline, it is almost certain to be barred from court forever.
There are special deadline considerations for government agencies. A claim against a government entity must be made under the Oregon Tort Claims Act (OTCA). In order to bring a wrongful death claim under the OTCA, you must file it within one year of the date of your loved one’s last injury.
Understanding the statute of limitations can be difficult because there are complex variations that may shorten or extend the usual three-year deadline. To determine the specific deadline for your case, it is best to consult a Hillsboro wrongful death lawyer.
When Should You Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
As soon as your loved one is injured, you (or they) are going to get phone calls from the insurance companies responsible for paying compensation. Once they pass away, you may end up dealing with claims adjusters as the personal representative of the estate.
During this difficult time, it’s easy to forget that insurance companies protect their bottom line by paying as little compensation as possible and even finding ways to outright deny legitimate claims. A Hillsboro wrongful death lawyer can ensure that your rights are always protected and negotiate for the settlement you need to recover financially from your loss. If the insurer refuses to be fair, your attorney can take your case to trial, giving you the best chance of securing maximum compensation.
Why Should I Hire Your Law Firm?
The attorneys at Harris Velázquez Gibbens have experience fighting for justice and compensation on behalf of families who have tragically lost a loved one due to negligence. We understand that money does not matter in the face of such a tragedy, but we also know such losses can have real financial repercussions on families already dealing with the grief of losing a loved one.
As wrongful death lawyers, we aggressively pursue every possible avenue of compensation for the families we represent. Using our advanced skills in investigation, negotiation, and litigation, we won’t settle for less than the full value of your claim.
Get Compassionate Advice from a Hillsboro Wrongful Death Lawyer
At Harris Velázquez Gibbens, we’re tough because we care.
We have successfully represented many families who lost loved ones to tragic and preventable accidents. Working with experts like medical professionals, accident reconstruction specialists, engineers, and other qualified parties, we work to build the strongest case possible. Our experienced lawyers understand what you’re going through and will fight for the compensation and justice you deserve.
At the same time, we know you are grieving and going through a serious life adjustment, so we try to make the legal process as easy for you as possible. Whether it’s answering your questions or handling phone calls from an insurance adjuster, we provide comprehensive support until your case concludes. To schedule a no-obligation consultation, call 503-610-4398 or contact us online.