A wrongful death is the deathful of an individual caused by someone’s negligence. Negligence, or fault, occurs when someone fails to act in a way that would prevent harm. Common types of negligent acts include causing a car accident, medical malpractice or a defective product. This harm causes an injury.
When a person is injured they can file a lawsuit for compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. However, if the injury results in the individual’s death, their loved one can file a lawsuit on their behalf. This is called a wrongful death lawsuit. If successful, the loved one can be compensated for the death.
Who can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Colorado
In Colorado, the law limits who can file a lawsuit to receive damages for their loved one’s death. It also limits the amount of time a person file a wrongful death lawsuit. This time limit is called statute of limitations.
Within the first year of a loved one’s death, the only person who can file a wrongful death claim is their surviving spouse. The second year after a loved one dies their surviving spouse and children can file a claim.
If the deceased person has no surviving spouse or children, their parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit a year after their death. In addition, a survival action can be filed. This action can only be filed by a representative of the deceased individual’s estate. A survival action seeks to recover any money from specific losses the deceased person’s estate.
The sibling of a deceased individual can’t file a wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado. If more than one party is entitled to file a wrongful death claim, the party who files must share the proceeds with those entitled to it.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Action
Damages, or money, sought in a wrongful death claim is a specific amount based on factors of the case. Each wrongful death lawsuit is different, but general damages a plaintiff requests include:
- All medical expenses related to the accident
- Any wages or other compensation the deceased loved one may have received
- Loss of companionship
- Funeral and burial expenses
Establishing a Wrongful Death Action
To receive damages because of a loved one’s death, a plaintiff must prove specific elements, of facts, required by Colorado personal injury law. These elements include:
- The loved one’s death was caused by the defendant’s wrongful actions
- The defendant’s wrongful actions were negligent
- The death caused an emotional and financial trauma on their surviving relatives
- The surviving family members are entitled to compensation for their loved one’s death
Speaking to an Attorney about Your Loved One’s Death
If your loved one was killed because of someone’s negligence, speak to a personal injury attorney about your legal rights. You may be able to file a wrongful death claim. If you are one of several surviving immediate family members, contact a personal injury attorney. You definitely want to know your rights and find out what happens if the party filing a claim doesn’t share the monetary damages.
Your loved one died because another individual decided to be negligent. You don’t have to suffer. Money can never bring back your loved one, but it can help you recoup financial losses caused by their death.
Bart Costello is the founder of Injury Law. Bart is passionate about helping people. He has built a strong reputation over the last thirty years as one of the premier Boulder personal injury attorneys.