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?
Almost any personal injury that can kill someone can also generate a wrongful death claim. Following is a listing of the most common.
Many other types of injury claims can generate wrongful death liability.
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:
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.
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.
In many states, what Oregon calls a wrongful death action will be split into two actions: a wrongful death action and a survival action. Not so in Oregon. Although Oregon has something called a survival action, it allows 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.
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.