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Wrongful Death Damages: What Is Available and How Is It Awarded?

Wrongful Death Damages: What Is Available and How Is It Awarded

The unexpected death of a loved one can have a profound effect on family members. Wrongful death can result from an intentional act or another party’s negligence or recklessness. Understanding wrongful death damages in Oregon can be complicated because there are many different rules and laws that might apply. An experienced Oregon wrongful death attorney can help families understand their rights and remedies. Contact the D’Amore Law Group today.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Oregon?

Oregon statutory law governs who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Oregon, the personal representative of the victim’s estate can file a claim on behalf of the estate for the benefit of the victim’s surviving family members. In many cases, a person’s will designates a personal representative. The probate court can also appoint a personal representative if the decedent did not designate one.  

Oregon law allows certain people related to the decedent to benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit. Typically, the following individuals can recover wrongful death compensation:

  • Parents,
  • Stepparents,
  • Children,
  • Stepchildren, and
  • Spouse. 

In Oregon, individuals may also be able to benefit from a wrongful death settlement if they can inherit from the decedent’s estate under the state’s intestacy laws

What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Claims in Oregon? 

Under Oregon law, a wrongful death is a death caused by the wrongful act or omission of another when the act or omission would have permitted the victim to file a personal injury lawsuit if they survived. The event leading to a wrongful death may involve criminal prosecution, but wrongful death lawsuits are civil actions separate from any criminal proceedings. These actions can stem from various situations, such as medical malpractice, car accidents, product liability claims, and nursing home abuse or neglect. 

Wrongful death lawsuits and personal injury claims follow the same underlying negligence laws. However, in wrongful death claims, the victim has died, so the losses at issue are the losses sustained by the decedent’s estate. In personal injury lawsuits, the losses a person is compensated for are the bodily injury and financial losses they suffered. 

What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and a Survival Action in Oregon? 

Under Oregon law, a personal representative can file a survival action in cases where the decedent died after a lawsuit started or at some point between the negligent conduct and filing the lawsuit. In these cases, the personal representative seeks compensation for the damages the decedent experienced between the time of their injury and their death. There is one key difference between a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action. A wrongful death lawsuit addresses conduct that caused the victim’s death, while a survival action can involve conduct unrelated to the person’s death. 

What Are the Types of Wrongful Death Compensation in Oregon? 

Damages refer to any losses a plaintiff claims in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. In a successful wrongful death claim, the court will award damages to the decedent’s estate to compensate surviving family members for various losses. Oregon law permits a personal representative in a wrongful death lawsuit to seek recovery for economic and noneconomic damages. In rare cases, the court may award punitive damages.

Economic Damages After Oregon Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Economic damages refer to objectively quantifiable monetary losses. In Oregon, economic damages may be awarded for reasonable charges incurred for the following:

  • Doctors’ services,
  • Hospital services,
  • Nursing services,
  • Other medical services, and
  • Burial and memorial services rendered for the decedent.

Compensation for pecuniary loss to the decedent’s estate can also be recovered. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help you understand wrongful death damages, what is available, and how it is awarded.  

Noneconomic Damages in an Oregon Wrongful Death Action

Noneconomic damages refer to subjective, non-monetary losses. While these damages are more difficult to calculate, they often are larger than economic damages. Some examples of noneconomic damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit include injuries the victim suffered before their death, such as: 

  • Disability,
  • Pain, and
  • Suffering.

In addition, Oregon law permits just, fair, and reasonable compensation for the decedent’s spouse, children, stepchildren, parents, and stepparents for the loss of the decedent’s companionship. 

Punitive Damages 

Unlike economic and noneconomic damages, punitive damages serve to punish the wrongdoer for their conduct. Oregon permits punitive damages to be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit if the decedent would have been entitled to recover them if they had lived. 

Proving Damages and Collecting Compensation after Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Establishing and calculating damages is complex because it often requires quantifying subjective losses. An experienced Oregon wrongful death attorney can work with their clients and experts, such as economists and actuaries, to calculate wrongful death damages. It is important to note that Oregon caps noneconomic damages at $500,000. This cap does not apply to economic or punitive damages. 

Oregon’s Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

Like most other civil actions, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by a certain deadline. This deadline is called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for an Oregon wrongful death lawsuit is three years from the date of the decedent’s final injury. It is important to note the date of final injury may be different from the date of death. That means there might be less time than you think to file a wrongful death claim.  

Exceptions to Oregon’s Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations 

There are a few exceptions to Oregon’s wrongful death statute of limitations. The most common exception involves the discovery rule. Under this exception, a personal representative may file a claim after the statute of limitations has passed if a party could not reasonably be expected to have learned of the actual cause of death until the decedent’s death occurred. 

Speak with a Compassionate Oregon Wrongful Death Lawyer About Your Case Today

If you recently lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent or intentional action, reach out to D’Amore Law Group for immediate assistance. With more than 30 years of experience and over 2,000 cases handled, D’Amore Law Group is committed to helping you and your family pursue the compensation you need to move forward. Our compassionate wrongful death attorneys will fight to protect your family’s rights and hold the party responsible for your loved one’s death. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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