Oregon Fatal Car Accident Attorney

Fatal Car Accidents

Losing a loved one in a fatal car crash is a devastating experience for family members, and more so if the accident was avoidable and occurred due to another driver’s negligence.

Despite strict Oregon wrongful death laws, hundreds of pedestrians, cyclists, automobile drivers and passengers are killed every year on the state’s roads and highways.

Have You Lost a Loved One in a Car Accident?

"For over 52 years I have been protecting the financial future of personal injury victim's in Oregon by fighting for maximum compensation in every case." - Roy Dwyer

Legal Options for Survivors

For the deceased’s family members, emotions may range from deep grief to anger to financial worry about their future. The survivors typically wish for swift justice and closure on behalf of their loved one who died.

However, in a fatal car accident case in Oregon, before the survivors can pursue a legal claim of wrongful death against the responsible driver, the case must go through a probate process. This process will determine which of the parties have the survivor rights.

If the deceased died intestate (left no will), the court will appoint a personal representative, who is usually the spouse, children, parents, or siblings.

When is a Fatal Car Accident a “Wrongful Death” under Oregon Law?

Under Oregon law, a fatal car accident will fall into the category of “wrongful death” if the death occurred due to a wrongful act of commission or omission. In fatal car accidents, a wrongful death is typically one that is caused due to a reckless, negligent, or the intentional act of another.

These actions are similar to the ones that would support a personal injury claim, if the deceased had survived the accident.

In that sense, a wrongful death claim in Oregon is similar to a personal injury claim, with the key difference that the victim in a wrongful death is no longer available to bring their own claim to court.

In their place, another person must bring the claim of wrongful death on behalf of the deceased’s estate and the surviving beneficiaries, if any.

Eligibility for Filing an Oregon Wrongful Death Claim

As the deceased cannot bring their own legal claim to court, the party that typically brings the claim in Oregon is a family member (such as the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased). The law in Oregon also allows other family members, such as grandparents, stepparents or stepchildren, to bring such claims to court.

Fatal Car Accident Claim is a Civil Suit

Under Oregon law, if the fatal car crash occurred unintentionally, the claim for wrongful death is a civil suit. This differs from a criminal case in the following two ways:

  • The surviving family member must file the fatal car accident claim (wrongful death claim) directly. This is unlike a criminal case, which is filed by the prosecuting lawyer employed by the jurisdiction where the fatal accident occurred.
  • Liability in a fatal car accident (wrongful death) case is determined solely in terms of monetary damages. This is different from a criminal case of homicide, where the penalties include imprisonment, probation, fines, and other penalties.
Injured in an Accident? Get a Free Case Evaluation Today!

Injured in an Accident? Get a Free Case Evaluation Today!

Oregon Fatal Car Accident Claim: What are the Damages?

In an Oregon fatal car accident (wrongful death) case, the objective of imposing damages on the at-fault party is to compensate the deceased’s estate and the surviving members of the family for their losses and expenses related to the victim’s death.

Damages in such a case in Oregon would include economic damages (unlimited medical costs, funeral expenses, and loss of financial support) and non-economic damages (emotional loss and pain inflicted upon the family, up to a limit of $500,000).

If the fatal car crash involved excessive negligence or intentional wrongdoing on part of the at-fault driver, punitive damages may also be awarded under Oregon law.

Punitive damages could be awarded in a case of wrongful death in Oregon, even when a criminal conviction has been already established in a homicide case based on those same facts.

Determining the Amount of Damages

Oregon law deals with this highly complex issue of determining a monetary amount to compensate for a loved one’s wrongful death. The court will take a number of factors into consideration. The most obvious factors include the deceased’s medical bills and funeral or burial expenses.

Other potential factors that will determine wrongful death damages in Oregon include:

  • Loss of potential income the individual would have earned if they had survived. Clearly, this would be an estimated figure, and may involve an expert witness testimony.
  • The deceased’s pain and suffering between the time of car accident and death.
  • The loss of companionship, care, and emotion of the deceased’s family members.

If the deceased left a will, it may help determine how the compensation award would be divided among the legal survivors. In absence of a will, the judge will assess the claimants’ testimonies and decided on the basis of the facts presented within the ambit of Oregon law.

Oregon Statute of Limitations in a Wrongful Death Claim

Following a fatal car accident in Oregon, the survivors must file a claim of wrongful death within three years from the date of final injury of the deceased.

It is vital to understand that for the law in Oregon does not view the date of death as the controlling factor in such cases. If the time gap between the date of final injury and the date of death is significant, the time to file a claim for wrongful death could be shorter than expected.

Speak to a Competent Oregon Fatal Car Accident Attorney Today

Wrongful death law in Oregon is complex and multi-faceted. There is subjectivity involved in the determination of compensation and who may receive what share of the award.

If you are considering making a fatal car accident claim in Oregon, you need an experienced wrongful death lawyer who has successfully dealt with cases resulting from fatal car accidents. Contact the law offices of Dwyer Williams Cherkoss in Oregon today at 1-800-285-8678.

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