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Oregon Wrongful Death Laws

The Oregon Wrongful Death Statute can be found in ORS § 30.020.  Pursuant to the Act, when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another, the personal representative of the decedent may bring an action for damages, for the benefit of the decedent’s surviving spouse, surviving children, surviving parents and other individuals.

If any, who under the law of intestate succession of the state of the decedent’s domicile would be entitled to inherit the personal property of the decedent, and for the benefit of any stepchild or stepparent whether that stepchild or stepparent would be entitled to inherit the personal property of the decedent or not, may maintain an action against the wrongdoer, if the decedent might have maintained an action, had the decedent lived, against the wrongdoer for an injury done by the same act or omission.

The action shall be commenced within three years after the injury causing the death of the decedent is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered by the decedent, by the personal representative or by a person for whose benefit the action may be brought under this section.

However, if that person is not the wrongdoer, in no case may an action be commenced later than the earliest of:

(a) Three years after the death of the decedent; or

(b) The longest of any other period for commencing an action under a statute of ultimate repose that applies to the act or omission causing the injury, including but not limited to the statutes of ultimate repose provided for in ORS 12.110 (4), 12.115, 12.135, 12.137 and 30.905.

(2) In an action under this section damages may be awarded in an amount which:

(a) Includes reasonable charges necessarily incurred for doctors’ services, hospital services, nursing services, other medical services, burial services and memorial services rendered for the decedent;

(b) Would justly, fairly and reasonably have compensated the decedent for disability, pain, suffering and loss of income during the period between injury to the decedent and the decedent’s death;

(c) Justly, fairly and reasonably compensates for pecuniary loss to the decedent’s estate;

(d) Justly, fairly and reasonably compensates the decedent’s spouse, children, stepchildren, stepparents and parents for pecuniary loss and for loss of the society, companionship and services of the decedent; and

(e) Separately stated in finding or verdict, the punitive damages, if any, which the decedent would have been entitled to recover from the wrongdoer if the decedent had lived.

(3) For the purposes of this section:

(a) Two persons shall be considered to have a stepchild-stepparent relationship if one of the biological parents of the stepchild, while the stepchild is a minor and in the custody of this first biological parent, marries the stepparent who is not the second biological parent or the adoptive parent of the stepchild;

(b) The stepchild-stepparent relationship shall remain in effect even though the stepchild is older than the age of majority or has been emancipated;

(c) The stepchild-stepparent relationship shall remain in effect even though one or both of the biological parents of the stepchild die; and

(d) The stepchild-stepparent relationship shall end upon the divorce of the biological parent and the stepparent[i].

[i] ORS § 30.020

Inside Oregon Wrongful Death Laws