After the death of a loved one, many people say that they can’t find anyone who will talk about the death directly. Maybe it’s because people are scared, or maybe they think they are protecting your feelings, but whatever the reason, it can be difficult to find someone who will speak clearly and directly about the death and the circumstances that led to the death.
As attorneys, it is our job to speak clearly, even bluntly, about difficult topics. The aim of this book is to give you a clear description of the laws that apply to a wrongful death claim in Oregon. We cannot heal your loss or give you back the precious life that has been taken from you. All we can do, in this book, is explain the law. We will do everything we can to perform this task with the clarity you deserve.
The legal term for fatal accident claims is “wrongful death.” It distinguish a death that was no one’s fault from a death that was caused by another person’s carelessness, recklessness, or intentional act. We use the term “wrongful death” to describe the civil cases that can be brought when a death was, from a legal perspective, someone else’s fault.
Nothing is worse than a loved one dying prematurely and unnecessarily. When death comes in the natural order of things, in old age, it still causes feelings of loss and grief. But when a death was the result of someone being careless – when a loved one would still be alive if only that person hadn’t run the red light, if only that truck driver hadn’t driven 15 straight hours and fallen asleep at the wheel, if only that company had performed the proper safety inspection – then the loss can become clouded with a host of other issues, questions, and doubts.
If you are reading this book because a loved one has died through someone else’s fault, we wrote this book for you. We consider it our duty to inform you of your legal rights. We know that in the wake of this loss, emotions run deep, and the last thing people want to do is call a lawyer, make an appointment, drive to the lawyer’s office, etc. We hope that by putting this important information into book form, we can pass the information on in a way that will allow you to read it in your own time, at your own pace, without having to make an appointment, drive to an office, or talk to anyone before you’re ready.
The personal devastation in the wake of such a tragedy is so profound that legal counsel can seem completely beside the point. But as lawyers, we know that when a death is caused by someone’s carelessness, there are legal steps that should be taken before it is too late to file a claim – so if you are even considering a wrongful death suit, read this book to make sure you don’t unwittingly jeopardize your case by waiting too long.
There are so many things that you will be called upon to do after a death in your family. We will do our best to stick to the legal facts. There are some great books out there on grieving so we won’t try to help you with that; this book is just here to help you with the legal ramifications when someone dies through the fault of another person.