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Should one of your very close family members, such as your spouse, child or parent, die because of someone’s carelessness, negligence or wrongdoing in Oregon, you have the right to sue that person for the wrongful death of your loved one. As FindLaw explains, you bring the wrongful death suit as a civil action for which you can receive only money damages if you prevail.

If your loved one died in a murder or other violent criminal event, your wrongful death action remains separate and apart from any criminal prosecution the alleged killer undergoes. And even if the jury finds him or her not guilty of the criminal charge, you can still sue him or her for wrongful death. Furthermore, you will face a less stringent burden of proof than the criminal prosecutor. (S)he had to prove his or her case beyond a reasonable doubt while you need prove yours only by a preponderance of the evidence.

Wrongful death damages

While you no doubt find it distasteful to think of your loved one’s death in terms of financial losses, you need to realize that unfortunately, the civil courts have no other remedy to offer you. And think about it. You really did suffer losses, both economic and noneconomic, when your loved one died, including the following:

  • The amount of his or her medical expenses
  • The amount of his or her funeral expenses
  • The loss of his or her current and future companionship, love and affection
  • The loss of his or her current and future counsel and guidance
  • The loss of his or her current and future financial support
  • The loss of the inheritance you would have received from him or her in the future

All of the above represent damages you can recover from the defendant if you win your wrongful death suit. And if you can prove that the defendant committed an especially egregious act in causing your loved one’s death, the jury likely will also award you punitive damages so as to punish the defendant.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.