If you have lost someone due to the negligence, recklessness or malice of another person, you may be wondering how to hold that person accountable.
Filing a wrongful death suit can be an option in these circumstances but it is a complicated process.
Who can file?
Typically, those who file a wrongful death lawsuit are surviving spouses, parents and children. In Oregon, the decedent’s personal representative must be the one to bring suit on their behalf. This representative can be anyone your loved one chose and named in their will. Alternately, if there is no will, the court can appoint someone.
You must also be able to prove that you have suffered damages from the loss. These can be economic or non-economic. Examples include medical bills, loss of companionship, funeral expenses and mental anguish. Keep in mind that non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, are more difficult to quantify and prove.
When should you file?
Oregon’s statute of limitations for most of these claims is three years. This starts when the incident or injury that caused the death gets discovered, not from the date your loved one passed. The other parties involved may dispute the discovery date of the negligent act. If this is questioned, this difficult process could become even more challenging.
There are also some exceptions to this three-year timeframe. Some incidents involving government employees, construction accidents and defective products have different time limits and qualifying factors.
Knowing your rights as a surviving family member or personal representative can help you seek justice for your loved one.