Can an Estate Sue for Wrongful Death?
There is little more shocking than the loss of a loved one. When that loss comes suddenly and unexpectedly, it can become even more difficult to process. If that loss was caused by someone else’s negligence, the negligent party can and should be held responsible for their actions. Wrongful death claims can be complex and the rules vary widely by state, including with regard to who may file a wrongful death claim and what types of damages the lawsuit may seek. Continue reading to learn about wrongful death claims, and call a dedicated Portland and Vancouver personal injury and wrongful death lawyer if you have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence in Oregon or Washington State.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a claim brought by relatives of an accident victim or other parties in interest. Specific rules regarding who may bring a wrongful death claim and what remedies are available vary by state, but in essence, a wrongful death claim is a personal injury claim brought on behalf of a deceased person unable to bring a claim on their own behalf. Wrongful death claims are available when someone’s negligence leads to the death of another person.
In some states, a wrongful death claim can only seek damages that would have been available in a personal injury suit had the victim survived. In other states, surviving family members have their own damages to claim.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Oregon?
In Oregon, a wrongful death claim is brought by the estate of the decedent on behalf of the decedent’s beneficiaries. A personal representative of the estate files the lawsuit. The court can appoint a personal representative if one is not already established by will or trust. The personal representative may be an executor named in the will, a surviving spouse, the nearest next of kin or nominee of the nearest kin, or, under certain circumstances, a government agency official. The estate can sue for expenses relating to the injury (medical bills, burial expenses, etc.), lost wages between the injury and time of death, future income the decedent would have earned had they survived, and certain non-economic damages such as the decedent’s family members’ loss of companionship.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Washington?
In Washington State, like Oregon, a wrongful death claim is typically brought by the personal representative of the estate–a representative named in the will, a surviving family member, etc. In addition, “real parties of interest” may also join the wrongful death suit in Washington. Real parties of interest include a surviving spouse, surviving children or stepchildren, as well as the parents or siblings of the deceased (if the decedent is not survived by a spouse or children). Damages available in a Washington wrongful death claim are much the same as those available in Oregon, including personal injury-type damages that would have been available to the deceased as well as intangible benefits lost to the victim’s surviving family.
Vancouver Attorney John Lutgens is Ready to Help With Your Wrongful Death Claim in Oregon or Washington State
For experienced and effective help pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death claim after a negligence-based injury in Portland, Vancouver, or elsewhere throughout Oregon and Washington, contact Vancouver personal injury lawyer John Lutgens for a no-cost consultation at 360-693-2119.