Wrongful Death by Police Officer

Issues surrounding police misconduct have come to the forefront of our attention across the United States. Particularly, deaths involving lethal force by law enforcement officers are a point of concern. Even though the vast majority of police officers do their jobs well, that is not always the case. Here, we want to discuss what would constitute wrongful death by a police officer in Oregon. We will examine wrongful death laws and how this could apply to possible lawsuits against law enforcement agencies.

What Constitutes Wrongful Death by a Police Officer?

When a person loses their life due to the negligent or intentional actions of another individual or entity, surviving family members may be able to claim monetary compensation for their loss through a wrongful death lawsuit in Oregon.

If a wrongful death is alleged to have occurred as a result of the actions of a police officer or police department, the case will be immensely challenging. Cities, counties, and state government officials typically vigorously defend officers and departments in these situations to avoid paying out major compensation amounts.

There are various ways that wrongful death claims can arise as a result of the actions of a police officer. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Improper use of a firearm
  • Unnecessary use of a Taser
  • Excess force applied
  • Failing to obtain necessary medical care
  • Unnecessary use of chemical munitions (pepper spray)

Types of Compensation That May be Available

In the state of Oregon, only the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate is allowed to file a wrongful death claim in civil court. If the deceased person has prepared a will, they will typically have named a personal representative there. If there was no will at the time the person passed, or if the appointed personal representative cannot serve in this capacity, the court will appoint someone else.

There may be various types of compensation available to family members of those killed wrongfully by the police. In a successful wrongful death claim against the police department or municipality, the following compensation may be available:

  • Medical treatment that may have occurred before death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Compensation for future lost wages and benefits
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Pain and suffering of the victim and survivors 
  • Mental anguish of survivors
  • The loss of love, guidance, protection, companionship, support, and nurturing provided by the victim

The total amount of compensation available for a wrongful death claim against a police department will vary depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding each particular situation.

We strongly encourage you to work with a skilled wrongful death lawyer in Oregon who can examine the facts and circumstances surrounding your particular claim. You need to have an advocate by your side handling every aspect of the process. Wrongful death claims against law enforcement personnel and agencies can become incredibly challenging. These cases require intricate investigations of all evidence involved. An attorney will have to show that the police officer acted outside of the department regulations and training or that they denied medical care to a person even though they knew further harm could result.

A Portland wrongful death attorney will engage in intense negotiations with insurance carriers and legal teams for the police department and the government agency. If necessary, an attorney will fully prepare the case for trial in front of a jury.