Who is Entitled to Wrongful Death Damages in Oregon?
In Oregon, wrongful death actions are covered under ORS 35.020. When someone is killed as a result of the wrongful act or omission of another individual or entity, the personal representative of the decedent may file a wrongful death action against the wrongdoer on behalf of the decedent’s beneficiaries.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
Beneficiaries who are legally able to file a wrongful death claim may fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving children
- Surviving parents
Oregon’s intestate succession laws go into effect when someone dies without a will. In Oregon, if someone dies with children but no spouse, the children will inherit everything. If a spouse dies with no children or parents, the surviving spouse inherits everything. If the decedent dies with a spouse and descendants that they have with their spouse, the spouse inherits half of the intestate property and the children inherit everything else. If the decedent was unmarried and had no children, his or her parents inherit everything.
Lastly, if there are siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents, the siblings inherit everything. To summarize, those who are entitled to wrongful death damages in Oregon include spouses, children, stepchildren, parents, stepparents, and siblings of the deceased. Under 35.020, a wrongful death action must be commenced within three years after the injury causing the wrongful death is discovered, or when it should have been discovered by the decedent, the personal representative, or one of the family members that are allowed to benefit from a wrongful death action.
When damages are collected in a wrongful death claim, the personal representative must distribute the damages in the following order:
- Costs, expenses, and fees for prosecution and the enforcement of the claim.
- Hospital and doctors’ services, medical services, burial services and memorial services for the decedent.
- After all expenses are paid, the remainder shall be distributed to the beneficiaries as prescribed under the laws of intestate succession, or as agreed by the beneficiaries.
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