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Two People Killed After Motorcyclist Tried to Make Illegal Pass in Aloha

Date:  July 27, 2012
Location:  SW 175th Avenue, between Reusser Ct. and Kemmer Rd., Aloha
Names:  Keith Lawson, Jolene Berstecher, Earnest and Sheila Shottenkirk

Two people were killed and at least one other seriously injured when a motorcyclist attempted an illegal pass and collided head-on with a pickup truck in Aloha. The damage to the motorcycle was described by a 17-year fire department veteran as the worst he’d ever seen.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Vance Stimler reported that just before midnight Friday, Keith Lawson, 31, was northbound on SW 175th Avenue, between Reusser Court and Kemmer Road. Lawson attempted to pass two vehicles in a no-passing zone on the hilly, two-lane road.

Before he could complete the pass, Lawson collided head-on with a southbound 1990 Dodge Dakota pickup being driven by Earnest Shottenkirk. Lawson and his passenger, Jolene Berstecher, were both pronounced deceased at the scene.

Emergency responders also found that Sheila Shottenkirk, the passenger in the pickup, had been critically injured in the crash and had to be extricated from the vehicle. She was rushed to OHSU Hospital, where she remains in a critical condition. There was no word on the condition of Earnest Shottenkirk.

We send our most sincere sympathies to the families and friends of Keith Lawson and Jolene Berstecher at this horribly tragic time. We also send our best wishes to the Shottenkirks for a full recovery from their injuries.

Oregon wrongful death claims are allowed under ORS 30.010-30.100. But the law is much more complicated than a normal accident case. First of all, the statute of limitations (time limit on filing a claim) is different.  For most car accidents, the SOL is 2 years, but for wrongful death, the SOL is “three years after the injury causing the death . . . is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. . . .”  In other words, it’s not three years from the date of death; it’s three years from the date of the original injury that ultimately caused the death.

Additionally, there are limits on who can bring a wrongful death claim. The most common claimants are:

  • Spouses
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Nieces/Nephews

These also include stepparents and stepchildren.

In a wrongful death case, you can ask for compensation for several types of damages as well.

Compensatory damages include.

  • Funeral, burial expenses
  • Medical expenses
  • Any expenses directly caused by death
  • Future wages/income of the deceased
  • Grief, loss, loss of consortium

Punitive damages are allowed as well, but are rare in Oregon since the State takes 60% of punitive damages awarded. If you have lost a loved one, call a Portland wrongful death attorney for help in securing the compensation you deserve.

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