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Wrongful Death

Let an Oregon Wrongful Death Lawyer Help You Pursue Justice

We understand how difficult it is to lose a loved one under any circumstance. When negligence or somebody’s wrongdoing has caused the death of a family member, the pain and heartbreak can be unbearable. At Zbinden & Curtis, we understand that Oregon and Washington families who lost loved ones in a wrongful death deserve justice and deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.

In difficult times, you will need an experienced advocate on our side. Choose Zbinden & Curtis. An Oregon wrongful death lawyer or Washington wrongful death attorney is prepared to sit down with you and discuss your legal options.

We tirelessly pursue compensation for our clients. We help them recover financially from their losses so they can move on with their lives.

What Is A Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is a legal term used to describe the death of a person caused by someone else’s reckless, negligent or intentional actions. In Oregon, wrongful death is legally defined as any death “caused by the wrongful act or omission of another,” according to Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) § 30.020 (2021). It’s also important to note that wrongful death cases are civil cases, distinct from any criminal charges filed by the State of Oregon against the person responsible for the death.

This might sound straightforward. But there’s often much debate about whether a wrongful death occurred. That’s why it’s important to have a lawyer who understands wrongful death law on your side, handling your claim.

Who Is Liable in Such Cases?

Liability refers to who’s legally responsible for causing an accident. The person or business found to be liable (the defendant) in a wrongful death must pay the damages (financial compensation) for the wrongful death.

In a civil wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff (the estate of the deceased person or the deceased person’s family members) must meet the “Burden of Proof” and prove liability “by a preponderance of the evidence” that the defendant was responsible for causing someone’s death. In general, meeting the Burden of Proof in a civil wrongful death case means the plaintiff has provided evidence that demonstrates that the defendant’s negligence resulted in the deceased’s death.

Most civil wrongful death cases involve proving the following elements:

  • The defendant had a “duty of care” for the deceased person, meaning the person who caused a person’s death was responsible for them in some way.
  • The defendant breached the duty of care, meaning the person who caused the deceased’s death failed to act in a responsible manner.
  • The defendant’s actions or inaction directly resulted in the deceased’s death, a legal concept known as “causation.”

Since the “preponderance of the evidence” standard used in civil cases is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal cases, it’s possible to win a wrongful death lawsuit even if the person who caused the death is not convicted of a crime.

What Wrongful Death Claims Cover

If you have lost a loved one, you may be entitled to financial compensation, referred to as “damages” in wrongful death cases. Such compensation can cover a wide range, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of support services
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Loss of benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Punitive damages
  • General damages
  • Loss of companionship

In wrongful death cases, insurance companies may try to place blame on the actions of the person who died. Zbinden & Curtis is familiar with the tactics the insurance companies take to minimize claims and compensation. We know how to respond. We take aggressive action against the insurance companies and fight for every penny our clients rightfully deserve. Our law firm is skilled at examining all the details in the case needed to prove negligence and determine responsibility. If you require the services of a Washington or Oregon wrongful death attorney, rely on our firm.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim in Oregon?

Only certain people can file a wrongful death claim. In Oregon, state law ORS 30.020 explains exactly who has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes:

  • The deceased’s estate
  • The deceased’s spouse (husband, wife)
  • The deceased’s children
  • The deceased’s parents
  • Other individuals “who under the law of intestate succession of the state of the decedent’s domicile would be entitled to inherit the personal property of the decedent, and for the benefit of any stepchild or stepparent whether that stepchild or stepparent would be entitled to inherit the personal property of the decedent or not, may maintain an action against the wrongdoer, if the decedent might have maintained an action, had the decedent lived, against the wrongdoer for an injury done by the same act or omission.”

Other rules and restrictions may apply. This is why it’s critical that individuals consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after the death of a loved one to learn more about the legal options available to them.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim In Washington?

Washington has its own unique laws in regard to who can legally file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state. Section 4.20.020 of the Revised Code of Washington states that the following individuals have the right to file a wrongful death case:

  • Wife or husband of the deceased
  • State-registered domestic partner
  • Children of deceased
  • Parents dependent on the deceased
  • Siblings dependent on the deceased

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Oregon

The statute of limitations limits the time you have to initiate legal proceedings. In Oregon, you generally have three years from the time of death to begin legal proceedings, according to ORS 30.020, which is officially called “action for wrongful death; when commenced; damages.” If you miss this deadline, you could miss out on your only opportunity to obtain the money you deserve to support your family in the event of your loved one’s death.

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Washington

The deadline (statute of limitations) for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Washington is three years from the date of your loved one’s death, according to Washington law RCW 4.20.010 Wrongful death, right of action. Three years might seem like a long time. But the reality is the sooner you take legal action, the stronger your case will be. That’s because the evidence in support of your wrongful death claim can be more difficult to obtain as time goes by in many cases.

Types Of Wrongful Death Cases

Just about any accident has a risk of death. Some accidents are the result of someone’s negligence or recklessness or when a party has shown gross negligence in the care, protection, or well-being of another individual. When the reckless or negligent party’s actions result in death, the deceased’s family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. A wrongful death case may or may not involve criminal charges. A wrongful death case may be connected to any of the following cases:

If you suffered the loss of a loved one through wrongful death, don’t delay taking action.

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At Zbinden & Curtis, serving Oregon and Washington clients, we fight hard to protect the rights of the injured. Contact our law firm today. Call (503) 287-5000 for a free and confidential initial consultation.