Veteran’s Suicide Led to $1.3M Wrongful-Death Claim

The demand for better and more substantial mental health care and practices continues to grow across this nation, particularly for our veterans. One instance caught not only statewide attention, but also nationwide notoriety, when veteran Jon Jacobsen, 50, chose to jump to his death from the roof of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, Oregon.

Jacobsen served in Korea from 1977 to 1979 as a helicopter crew chief, and suffered from an isolated psychotic episode in early February 2007. After being provided with anti-psychotic drugs, the medical staff at the Adventist Medical Center sent him home the following day.

However, two days later he was again “delusional” and his wife alleges that the staff at the VA Medical Center refused to admit her ailing husband to a secure psychiatric ward, despite his repeated claims that he was going to kill himself. Though promised he would be watched closely overnight, Jacobsen repeatedly slipped out of his room, eventually finding his way outdoors where he climbed a tree, ventured onto the roof and jumped to his death.

Mrs. Jacobsen subsequently sought damages for his wrongful death.

Who Can File for Wrongful Death in Oregon?

Oregon allows for a number of individuals who may be related to the individual who has passed away to file a wrongful death suit:

  • Surviving spouses and their children
  • Surviving parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Stepparents
  • Stepchildren

When a claim is filed by a surviving loved one, he or she can receive financial damages for a variety of losses that have been suffered due to the death of their loved one:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial expenses
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • A loss of comfort, care, society and companionship suffered due to the unexpected loss of a loved one

The payments received for these losses can be substantial and are in place to financially protect the close family members of the deceased. In the case of Jacobsen, his widow received $1.3 million from the VA Medical Center to compensate she her and the surviving members of Jacobsen’s family.

Limited Time to File

In Oregon, there is a limited amount of time for filing wrongful death claims, known as the “statute of limitations.” Generally speaking, family members who suspect that neglect has played a role in the untimely death of their loved one must file a claim within 3 years of the date of the event that caused his or her death.

At the law offices of Dwyer Williams Dretke, we provide compassionate counsel to each of our clients the ins and outs of wrongful death claims while aggressively standing up for the rights of the deceased and their families in court.

We invite you to call us (541) 617-0555 to discuss your particular case.