Understanding Wrongful Death Laws in Oregon

Fatal accidents leave behind grieving family members who may not know that they have a legal avenue to pursue against the person or entity at fault. Make sure you know your rights in this time of grief, confusion, and devastation.

In Oregon, family members can bring lawsuits on behalf of deceased loved ones. These lawsuits are referred to as “wrongful death” suits and are a powerful way for family members to get justice on behalf of a family member who has lost their life due to the negligence of another person. Here’s what you need to know:

Who can bring a wrongful death suit?

Oregon law permits certain family members to bring lawsuits on behalf of their deceased relatives if another person caused their death. Wrongful death lawsuits are common in car accidents, for example, where one driver killed another. In some cases, wrongful death lawsuits may also be brought against employers if a worker was killed on the job. These suits are typically brought by the surviving spouse of the deceased person, although children, parents, or grandparents can bring these lawsuits as well.

What damages are available in a wrongful death lawsuit?

A number of damages are available in a wrongful death lawsuit. Plaintiffs in these cases may receive the cost of the funeral, medical bills for the deceased person, and lost wages of the deceased person. The last category is usually more difficult to determine because it involves an estimate of how much the person would have earned had they continued living, which is not always easy to prove. In addition to these damages, loved ones can also seek damages for the pain and suffering their deceased family member endured while alive, as well as their own loss of companionship and care.

In some cases, punitive damages may be available when the other party was particularly reckless. Drunk drivers, for example, may be on the hook for punitive damages. So, too might punitive damages be available against someone who engaged in extremely reckless behavior, such as speeding down an icy road. Ultimately, the damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can add up quickly and result in a large judgment in favor of the deceased’s loved ones.


Wrongful death lawsuits are more complex than typical lawsuits because of the various types of damages involved. While it may be easy to prove the other party was at fault or negligent, the issue of how much the family should receive as a result of that wrong often dominates the case. This is true even if the other party has admitted liability.

If you’ve lost a family member due to the negligence or reckless behavior of another person, reach out to our attorneys who are experienced in Oregon wrongful death claims and can ensure you get what you are owed. Contact ClarkeGriffin, LLC today.

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Written by Clarke Griffin

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