It begins with a drunken driver. Or it begins with a landlord failing to install fire alarms. Or it can begin with a negligent doctor, a reckless employer or a neighbor with a gun. “It” is wrongful death litigation, and no matter how it begins, it always involves a preventable death caused by someone’s carelessness and disregard for others.
In Oregon, family members who lose a loved one because of someone’s negligence can file wrongful death lawsuits against the person responsible.
Sometimes people wonder why a family would file a wrongful death claim, knowing that they will face a number of legal and emotional challenges. For many families, the litigation is part of the closure process; they seek justice in the name of their lost loved one. They want the responsible party held accountable and punished.
Another factor for many families is that in addition to the emotional turmoil and pain they experience when they lose a loved one are the financial damages they suffer. Sometimes the loved one is the breadwinner in the family; counted on for substantial financial contributions that enable the family to have food on the table, a roof over their heads, health insurance, etc.
In Oregon, a family typically has three years after the death of their loved one to file a wrongful death claim, though state law provides some exceptions to the rule. That’s a topic to discuss with an attorney experienced in wrongful death litigation; they can provide you with details about how and when to proceed.
In some circumstances, the attorney can negotiate a favorable settlement with the responsible party and their insurer. In other situations, you and your attorney will find that going to trial is the best way to get justice for your loved one and your family.