Oregon Wrongful Death Claim Attorney

No family should have to go through the excruciating loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another party. Unfortunately, the sad fact remains that many families are facing a difficult time as the direct impact of wrongful death. Whether through a car accident, trucking accident, medical malpractice, or carelessness, far too many lives are taken each year in Oregon.

Ryan Hilts Law is an experienced personal injury law firm representing individuals and families that are attempting to handle an Oregon wrongful death claim. The process can be grueling and overwhelming, especially for those that are still grieving their loss. For this reason, it’s important you work with a compassionate attorney who understands the legal proceedings in order to provide some solace during this time of loss. Contact us directly for a free consultation at (503) 726-5960.

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What is a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death claim is against a person or entity that is responsible for the death of another person.  Oregon law states that “When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another, the personal representative of the decedent,…may maintain an action against the wrongdoer,…”  {ORS 30.020 (1)} For example, if a negligent driver causes a collision that kills someone, the victim’s family can file a wrongful death claim against the driver.

Oregon Wrongful Death Claim Attorney

In Oregon, the maximum award or settlement for non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering and all of the other intangible losses), is $500,000.  This portion includes the pain and suffering of the decedent from the time of injury to the time of death. In addition to non-economic damages, wrongful death claims include economic losses.  There is no “cap” to the economic portion of the claim. It encompasses all of the pecuniary losses, basically any loss that can be measured in financial terms. This category includes medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost wages from the time of injury to the time of death, future benefits lost, and lost future wages (typically calculated based on the future potential earning capacity of an individual).   Often an economist is hired to provide an expert estimation of the future earning capacity based on many factors, including an individual’s salary and income at the time of death as well as life expectancy.

Finally, a wrongful death claim in Oregon can also include punitive damages if the decedent would have been entitled to recover them had the decedent lived. Punitive damages are in addition to compensation from an insurance policy and they are used as a way to punish the wrongdoer.  They are also awarded to deter the defendant and other people from making the same wrongful act again. Drunk driving cases typically involve punitive damages as the case moves into litigation.

It is extremely important to analyze each individual case, looking for additional insurance policies to help cover the loss.  If the negligent party’s insurance policy does not provide adequate coverage, or if there are insufficient funds to fully compensate for the loss, you can also file a wrongful death claim against the decedent’s insurance.  Similarly to standard motor vehicle claims, this type of claim is for cases when there is not enough insurance coverage and is, therefore, called an Underinsured Motorist Claim (UIM). In addition, sometimes other parties may also be liable for a claim.  Recall the example introduced above of the negligent driver who kills someone in a car accident. In that scenario, if the negligent driver is driving drunk after being (over)-served at a tavern or restaurant while “visibly intoxicated”, the tavern or restaurant will have liability, providing additional coverage for the wrongful death claim.

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Personal Injury Lawyer: Wrongful Death

Hiring a personal injury attorney is essential if you wish to pursue a wrongful death claim.  A wrongful death claim can be complicated. It demands a thorough understanding of the wrongful death laws and it requires many official documents to be approved by the court.  For example, an estate must be established, naming a personal representative to manage the estate. Furthermore, if a minor is a beneficiary to any potential settlement, there are additional documents that must be submitted for court approval.

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An Oregon wrongful death statute of limitations is typically three years from the date of the injury that caused the person’s death.  It is important to note, however, that there are instances when deadlines must be met sooner, such as with tort claim notice requirements.  In the drunk driving example above, a tort claim notice would need to be sent to the liable tavern in order to pursue that portion of the claim.  Claims against public entities and product liability claims have tort notice requirements as well. Wrongful death tort claim notices have different time guidelines than other tort claim notices.  An experienced Oregon wrongful death attorney will be able to ensure all of the requirements and deadlines are met.

We are experienced in handling Oregon wrongful death claims.  Please call us at (503) 726-5960 or email me at ryan@ryanhiltslaw.com if you would like a free consultation to discuss your case.

Ryan is a member of the Oregon State Bar, the Washington State Bar, and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association.

Ryan was named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine for six years in a row, a selection for the top attorneys under 40 years old. During those years, he was also listed as one of Oregon's Outstanding Young Lawyers by Portland Monthly Magazine and the American Registry.


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My name is Linda and my son in law recommended Ryan Hilts. I did not think I needed a lawyer. My son in law said "If you don't win you don't pay". That made a lot of sense to me. After calling Ryan I realized how comforting it is to have a lawyer. I was in a car accident. The driver was drunk and hit me and took off. A hit and run accident. Ryan told me by Oregon Law I was able to go to the doctors. I was able to get the much needed help. My Chiropractor was amazing. It took time to heal. Ryan was always available and always called me back, when I had any questions. He is a wonderful family man. A man of integrity. He also sent emails and texts to wish our family well on all the Holidays. He went above and beyond what was expected. My case was won without a doubt. I would definitely go back to Ryan for any lawyer needs. He is a good man and you can trust him. Thank you Ryan for everything, words are not enough to express all you did for us.

G. & L. S.

I was recommended to Mr. Hilts by a friend when I had my car accident. I was very impressed with his knowledge and the way he guided me through the process. I appreciated that he always returned my calls and kept me informed about the progress of my case.

K.J.

I could never say enough good things about Ryan. He was always there to take my calls and answer all of my questions. I really felt like he was working for me; like I was his top priority.

J.H.

Ryan is a terrific lawyer and a better person. He went above and beyond to reach a settlement in my case and believed in it when no one else did. He’s very intelligent and caring and is always putting the best interests of his clients before his own. Ryan knew more about my case than I even did. He is truly dedicated to his clients, and I can not explain how much I honestly appreciated that. I recommend that you give him a shot if you need to hire an attorney. He won’t let you down.

S.S.

It was our good fortune to have Ryan Hilts as our attorney. Ryan helped our children avoid a lawsuit and get a successful settlement. He taught us so much. He represented our family with integrity.

B.D.