Portland Wrongful Death Lawyer

No pain matches the loss of a loved one, but when a family member dies in an unexpected accident, you may also be left with a feeling of injustice. If you’ve lost a family member or loved one in an accident, you may be able to pursue damages from the responsible party with a wrongful death claim. Pro Accident Lawyers will connect you with a Portland wrongful death lawyer with specific experience pursuing these claims. All consultations are free, and we work on a contingency basis, so you don’t have to pay out of pocket for professional legal advice.

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What Is Wrongful Death Under Oregon Law?

Under the Oregon Revised Statutes, a wrongful death occurs when a “wrongful act or omission causes the death of a person.” That means that an action of the defendant or a failure to act directly or indirectly causes the death of another.

How A Portland Lawyer Proves A Wrongful Death Case

In order to prove an Oregon wrongful death claim, your personal injury attorney must be able to establish the following four elements:

1. The Defendant had a Duty of Care for the Decedent

It’s insufficient to show that the defendant could have prevented the loss of life. An attorney will have to establish that there is a legal duty to prevent harm. For example, a truck driver has the legal responsibility to operate their vehicle safely with all federal and state laws.

2. The Defendant Committed a Breach of Duty

A wrongful death lawyer will investigate whether or not the defendant breached their duty of care. An example is a driver running a red light at an intersection. All drivers have the duty to stop at red lights, so running one would breach that duty of care.

3. Causation – The Breach of Duty Caused an Accident

In a wrongful death claim, the defendant does not have to cause the immediate death of a decedent for it to be viable. Causation simply means that the defendant’s breach of duty caused an accident that led to the injuries that are believed to have led to the wrongful death.

4. The Accident Resulted in Damages

Damages in wrongful death cases can be extremely complex, and we will cover this in a later section. If a person dies as a result of negligence, damages are assumed. An Oregon wrongful death lawyer will have to determine the extent of those damages.

During your initial consultation with a Portland wrongful death lawyer, they will examine your case to determine whether all four elements exist. If they do, we can offer you immediate legal representation.

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Who Can Benefit From The Expertise of A Portland Wrongful Death Lawyer?

In order to sue for wrongful death in the state of Oregon, the plaintiff must have standing. In many states, family members can file a wrongful death suit directly. In Oregon, however, the personal representative of the estate must file a claim on behalf of the family members. The following relations can recover damages:

  • The spouse of the deceased
  • The children of the deceased
  • The parents of the deceased
  • Stepchildren of the deceased
  • Stepparents of the deceased

If there is no personal representative because the decedent died intestate — without a will — the court can appoint a personal representative to pursue damages. Our Portland wrongful death attorneys are familiar with the nuances of Oregon wrongful death law and can represent a plaintiff with standing in their pursuit of justice.

Types of Compensation Allowed in Portland, Oregon Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Like all personal injury cases in Oregon, the state divides wrongful death damages into the categories of compensatory and non-compensatory. Compensatory damages are further divided into economic damages and non-economic damages. Here is a brief explanation of each:

Economic Damages

Any financial costs associated with the accident fall under this category. Economic damages can include all medical expenses that the accident victim incurred prior to their death, lost earnings from not being able to work, property damage, and more. Post-death expenses may include funeral costs. In the event that the plaintiff benefited from the decedent’s income, economic damages can include the future lost earnings of the accident victim.

Non-economic Damages

Also known as “pain and suffering,” non-economic damages are intended to compensate the victim and their family for the intangible costs of an accident. For the victim, non-economic damages may include the physical pain and emotional trauma they experienced prior to death. For the family members, this may include emotional trauma and loss of consortium.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are intended to penalize the defendant for egregious or willful behavior. For example, if a defendant was drunk at the time of a wrongful death accident, the courts may determine that they should pay punitive damages. Unlike other states where punitive damages are paid entirely to the plaintiff, in Oregon, the state takes a large portion of punitive damages.

The objective of our Portland wrongful death attorneys is to get the maximum compensation for our clients for each personal injury case. This starts with an accurate calculation of damages. Only when we have fully researched the financial costs of the wrongful death accident and researched other settlements and judgments do we present a demand letter to the defendant’s counsel or their insurance company?

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Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths

While accidental deaths can occur in numerous ways, these are some of the most common sources of wrongful death claims:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

There were 460 fatal crashes in Oregon in 2020, claiming 507 lives. Many of these were due to the negligence of another party. Individuals involved in commercial truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents have a higher risk of death.

Slip and Fall Injuries

According to the CDC, there were 807 deaths related to falling injuries in the state of Oregon. Fall injuries are the number three cause of preventable injuries in the U.S. Fall injuries adversely affect the elderly.

Drowning

While drowning is not responsible for as many deaths as vehicle accidents and slips and falls, drowning takes approximately 65 lives per year in Oregon.

Workplace Accidents

Certain industries are more prone to accidental deaths. According to the National Safety Council, construction and agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (which is considered one category) are responsible for the most accidental deaths.

FAQ For A Portland Wrongful Death Layer

The following wrongful death questions are frequently asked by clients. For answers to your specific questions, call Pro Accident Lawyers for a free one-on-one consultation with a Portland wrongful death attorney.

Who can pursue a wrongful death claim?

Under Oregon law, only the executor of the estate (personal representative) can pursue a wrongful death claim. If there is no executor, your wrongful death lawyer can petition the court to be assigned as the executor.

How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim in Oregon?

Oregon places a three-year statute of limitations on wrongful death actions. However, unlike many states where the time begins from the date of death, Oregon allows three years from the date of the last accident. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to have a personal injury lawyer involved from the beginning. The attorney can represent the accident victim from the standpoint of a personal injury claim. In the unfortunate event, the victim passes, the attorney can more easily transition the case to a wrongful death action.

What if the deceased was partially at fault? Can a Portland wrongful death lawyer help?

Oregon works on a modified comparative negligence principle. As long as the deceased party was less than 50% responsible for the accident, the plaintiff can still pursue a wrongful death claim. The amount of the settlement or court award is proportionately reduced.

For example, consider an accident where a commercial truck driver runs a red light and strikes a private vehicle, killing the driver. During the accident reconstruction, the experts determined that the car was speeding, contributing to the severity of the accident. The court may decide that the decedent was 30% responsible, which means that the plaintiff can recover 70% of the damages.

What are the damage caps for a wrongful death claim in Oregon?

In a recent court ruling, the State Supreme Court ruled that caps for compensatory damages are unconstitutional in Oregon. That means that an Oregon wrongful death attorney is free to pursue full and fair compensation on their client’s behalf.

What if I can’t afford a Portland wrongful death attorney?

Many grieving family members are concerned that hiring a Portland wrongful death attorney will drain precious financial resources. However, the Pro Accident Lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means we are paid from the proceeds of the cases we win. If we don’t win, we don’t receive payment.

Portland Wrongful Death Lawyers

Nothing can salve the pain of losing a loved one in a tragic accident. However, our Portland wrongful death attorneys can fight for the compensation you’re owed under the law. Call today for a free consultation with a Portland wrongful death lawyer.

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