Death is the common denominator for all humans. After all, everyone dies eventually, but not every death has to occur in the way that it does or at the time that it does.
For example, a mistake made by a surgeon during an operation could mean that someone who might have had multiple decades of life ahead of them dies unexpectedly. A car crash could claim a teenager’s life before they even finish high school.
When tragedy strikes in a way that affects your family, you will have to deal with both emotional and practical consequences from your loss. If a family member recently lost their life in an accident that you believe is the fault of another person or business, that could potentially lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. When do you have the right to file such a lawsuit?
Do you have the appropriate family relationship with the deceased person?
When determining if you can file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must evaluate your relationship to the deceased individual. In Oregon, that right typically falls to close or dependent family members.
Spouses and children are the individuals with the strongest claim after someone dies unexpectedly, but parents and even stepparents or stepchildren can sometimes file as well if there aren’t children or spouse to bring a claim.
Did negligence or a criminal act contribute to your loss?
In order for a death to qualify as wrongful, it has to meet certain standards. Usually, the people bringing the claim has to be able to demonstrate to the court that the other party, through their actions or possibly inactions, directly caused the death. Evidence of wrongful acts, like drunk driving, or omissions, like failing to perform a contracted service, will help you prove your claim.
How long has it been since your loss?
As with most kinds of personal injury claims, there is a statute of limitations that applies to wrongful death claims. In most scenarios, a family will only have three years from the date of the final injury to the deceased person to bring legal action against the responsible party. That means that the sooner you initiate the process, the easier it will be to avoid losing a claim because too much time has passed.