Vancouver, WA Wrongful Death Attorneys
At Caron, Colven, Robison & Shafton, we help family members recover for the loss of a loved one caused by the negligent acts of another in wrongful death cases throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington.
When a person dies as a result of another’s negligence, the personal representative of the estate may bring an action for wrongful death for the benefit of surviving family members. In Washington, a suit may be brought on behalf of a spouse or domestic partner or children of the deceased. If there is no spouse or child, an action may be brought on behalf of the decedent’s dependent parents or siblings. Oregon’s wrongful death statute is broader, allowing a suit to be brought on behalf of any family members who would be eligible under law to inherit from the deceased. Accordingly, any recovery is apportioned among all eligible family members according to the rules of probate.
Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit are not those suffered by the decedent, except for any lost wages or pain and suffering in the period between the injury and death. Usually, recoverable damages are those suffered by the family members for whose benefit the lawsuit is brought. For instance, family members can recover for the medical expenses incurred, costs of burial and memorial services, the pecuniary loss suffered from the loss of a wage earner, and loss of society, companionship, and services. If punitive damages would have been available to the decedent in a personal injury lawsuit, then the family may pursue punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit as well.
Although in the personal injury context, a lawsuit must typically be brought within two years of the date of the injury, the statute of limitations in a wrongful death case is longer, generally three years from the date of death.
While the wrongful death action is meant to compensate the decedent’s family members for their loss, the personal injury action which was available to the deceased does not simply fall away. The estate’s personal representative may initiate or continue a personal injury action on behalf of the deceased for the benefit of the estate. Known as survival action, sometimes a lawsuit of this nature is brought in conjunction with a wrongful death action, maximizing the recovery available to the bereaved family.
The death of a loved one is a tragic loss and a major disruption to the financial and emotional lives of those closest to the deceased. The Vancouver attorneys at Caron, Colven, Robison & Shafton have years of experience fighting for the rights of bereaved family members to recover for the injustice brought on their family and their loved one. If a member of your family has died due to another party’s negligence or wrongful misconduct, contact Caron, Colven Robison & Shafton today for a free consultation on how best to recover for the damages to which you are entitled.