What Constitutes a Wrongful Death

Posted by Bradley Thayer | Jul 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

Wrongful death actions differ from state to state and can be extremely complex, not to mention emotionally draining. With a long history of work on these cases, we can take care of upfront costs for you.

Wrongful Death Compensation

While it is recognized that no amount of money can bring back a loved one, compensation in wrongful death cases is intended to ameliorate the burden of financial difficulty that may befall surviving family members because of loss of earnings and financial support of a provider and because of mounting medical and funeral bills accrued after the fatal incident. The emotional suffering of surviving parents, spouses or children is also considered and financial award made for loss of the loved one's love and affection. In some cases, compensation is also paid for the pain suffered by the deceased prior to death and  in any financial award there may also be a sum included which is intended as a punitive measures against the negligent or malicious party.

State Differences in Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death cases are governed by many intricate laws which differ from state to state. For example, the neighboring states of Washington and Oregon have different statutes determining the time limitation on bringing a wrongful death action to court. In Oregon, for example, the time limit for bringing a wrongful death case is three years from the time of the injury or event that led to death. In contrast, the time limit in Washington is three years from the time of death.Differences can also be found in which parties are allowed to bring a wrongful death suit. In Oregon family members may do so, including a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, stepchild or step-parent. Other states like Washington and Georgia allow both family members and/or a personal representative of the deceased on behalf of his or her estate to sue for compensation. Amazingly, in Washington however if the victim of a wrongful death has reached the age of 18, but has no dependents, the only recovery that is available is for funeral expenses and loss of future income–minus future consumption–there is no recovery for the loss of love and affection or the destruction of the parent-child relationship. This often results in woefully inadequate compensation to the survivors.

Expert Witness Testimony

In cases where a settlement is not reached immediately or soon after the action is brought, only one thing is certain. The lawsuit will be countered with a vigorous defense. In order to present the strongest case and achieve some form of justice, expert testimony is often required, often from multiple fields. For example,  medical professionals, engineers and scientists from different disciplines may be required to testify in the case of a wrongful death in the event of a trucking or construction accident. Given the differing regulations which apply to wrongful death cases from state to state and the complexity of most wrongful death cases, seeking experienced advice is essential. See here for more information  on wrongful death lawsuits in Washington or Oregon.

About the Author

Bradley Thayer

Brad Thayer is a partner at the Schauermann Thayer firm. Brad is licensed in both Oregon and Washington. He has been practicing law since 2015. He was presented the 2018 Rising Star Award by the Clark County Bar Association. Brad's practice focuses on automobile collision, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian injury, dog bite, and myriad other types of injury and insurance cases. During his free time, Brad enjoys following the Portland Trail Blazers, playing basketball, going to concerts, and playing the drums. He especially enjoys hiking in the Columbia River Gorge and exploring other Northwest wonders.


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