The bad decisions of one party can result in major negative consequences for others. Both businesses and individuals can engage in conduct that might lead to someone dying. A business might fail to maintain vehicles in a commercial fleet, and issues with a vehicle could then cause a fatal car crash. Someone might break the law or do something clearly reckless, like racing on public roads. They could unintentionally kill someone while doing so.
In Oregon, both wrongful acts and omissions could give rise to lawsuits when someone dies. A wrongful death lawsuit can compensate surviving dependent family members of an individual for everything from their final medical bills and funeral costs to their future lost wages.
State law determines who files and who benefits
The rules for wrongful death lawsuits in Oregon are very clear. The personal representative handling someone’s estate is the party with the option of filing a wrongful death lawsuit related to their death. It does not matter what personal or legal relationship the representative had with the deceased party. Their role in estate administration is what matters the most.
The person bringing the lawsuit may not even benefit from it in some cases. Under Oregon law, the people who receive the proceeds from a successful wrongful death lawsuit are the same people who would inherit from an estate if someone died without a will. Spouses, children, parents and other immediate family members can receive compensation from a successful wrongful death lawsuit.
It will be the responsibility of the representative of the estate to file the lawsuit and then to distribute the proceeds if successful among the appropriate parties. Although there are many obligations associated with estate administration, people cannot delay looking into a wrongful death lawsuit for too long. The statute of limitations for such lawsuits expires two years after someone dies.
The sooner people act, the less likely they are to lose out on the option of holding an individual or business financially responsible for a loved one’s death. Pursuing justice through the civil courts is an appropriate response when someone dies due to the omissions or misconduct of another party.