Being confronted with the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one instantly changes your life. During this challenging time, while you are grieving your loss, it is understandable you will have many questions about how this happened, what you should do next, and whether you have legal grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Obtaining assistance and advice from an experienced wrongful death attorney can be very beneficial.
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How to find a wrongful death attorney in Colorado
If you believe that a loved one’s death was wrongfully caused, speaking to an experienced wrongful death attorney in Colorado can help ensure you receive justice. To find the best wrongful death attorney for your case, research local attorneys, read online reviews, and ask family members or friends who have encountered similar issues.
Additionally, talk to any potential attorneys with a free consultation. Ask them about their experience and education in your specific area of concern before signing anything or entering into a contract with them.
What is a wrongful death?
Wrongful death is a legal term that applies to certain kinds of accidental deaths caused by someone else’s negligence or willful actions. Wrongful death cases can involve the negligence of an individual, business entity, government agency, or other organization. These cases typically involve compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering resulting from the victim’s untimely death.
What is a survival action?
A survival action is a legal claim brought by the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate, allowing them to recover economic losses incurred before death, such as medical bills and lost income. These claims are similar to wrongful death actions, but they only apply if the victim survived for a time after suffering an injury or illness that led to their eventual demise.
Unlike wrongful death, these cases seek damages on behalf of the estate instead of surviving family members. As such, it is essential to consult with a wrongful death lawyer to determine whether you would benefit more from a wrongful death claim or a survival action claim.
Common causes of wrongful death
- Medical malpractice: When a medical professional provides inadequate treatment or misdiagnoses an illness, it can result in the death of a patient
- Motor vehicle accidents: Negligence from one or more drivers can lead to fatal car accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles
- Defective or dangerous products: If products are not designed correctly, contain defective parts, or fail to provide adequate warnings about potential risks associated with them, and cause death in some way when used as intended, manufacturers may be held liable for wrongful death due to product liability laws
- Industrial accidents/workplace injury: Workplaces such as construction sites and factories often carry a higher risk of injury than other workplaces. Employers must take extra precautions to minimize the chances of workers getting hurt.
- Premises liability/slip-and-fall accidents: Slip-and-fall cases involve injuries that occur due to negligent maintenance or upkeep of a property. This can include uneven floors or slippery surfaces, which can lead to serious injury or even death.
- Criminal activity: If a person’s death is caused by criminal activity, like assault or drunk driving, their family can pursue legal action against the party responsible
How to choose the right wrongful death attorney in Colorado?
The best way to choose the right wrongful death attorney in Colorado is to research their credentials, education, and track record. It is important that you speak with them directly to understand their approach to your case by asking them about their strategy and outlook.
Be sure to ask about their experience and previous results with similar cases so you can make an informed decision about who will represent your interests. Lastly, discuss any potential fees associated with working with the attorney so there will be no surprises later.
How can a wrongful death attorney help you with your case?
A wrongful death attorney can help you with your case by:
- Negotiating on your behalf with insurance companies and defendants to reach a fair settlement
- Handling the legal paperwork to ensure correct filing
- Investigating all parties involved to build a strong case for settlement or trial
- Gathering evidence to help prove negligence
- Representing you in court if necessary
- Helping you obtain any financial compensation that may be due
- Providing emotional support and access to resources during this difficult time
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
Wrongful death claims are typically filed by the decedent’s spouse, children, or parents. The deceased’s estate or someone the decedent supports financially may also be entitled to seek damages from the responsible party.
Colorado law allows the spouse up to two years to file a claim. They can also allow children to be added to the lawsuit. After one year, if the spouse has not filed, then children and anyone else who suffered damages due to their loved one’s death can file a claim.
What damages can one seek in wrongful death cases in Colorado?
Damages for wrongful death cases in Colorado can include:
- Lost wages: If the deceased was a provider for their household, any current and potential lost future income that would have been earned
- Lost benefits: Benefits, such as health care and retirement options
- Medical bills: Medical and doctor bills incurred as a result of the accident, including treatments and efforts to save the decedent’s life
- Funeral and burial expenses: Any associated funeral and burial expenses due to an untimely death
- Pain and suffering: The emotional pain, suffering, and anguish experienced by the surviving family members
- Loss of consortium: This type of damage seeks compensation resulting from no longer having an existing significant relationship with the deceased
- Loss of companionship: Compensation for the loss of companionship and guidance the deceased would have provided their loved ones had they still been alive
- Punitive damages: These damages are intended as punishment for grossly negligent behavior resulting in wrongful death
Colorado’s wrongful death laws and statute of limitations
The Colorado Wrongful Death Act consists of Colorado Revised Statutes 13-21-201 through 13-21-204 and is the state’s law governing compensation for wrongful deaths caused by negligence. It allows surviving family members to bring a civil action against any at-fault party to receive monetary damages associated with their loss.
The Act outlines which parties are eligible to pursue such an action (spouses, children, parents, and other relatives) as well as available types of damages possible under the state’s laws.
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in Colorado is usually two years from the date of death. However, there can be exceptions depending on how the person died. In all cases, speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible is crucial to avoid losing your legal right to pursue damages caused by another’s negligence.
How to calculate wrongful death compensation
Wrongful death compensation in Colorado is typically determined based on the economic and non-economic damages associated with the deceased’s passing. Economic damages are calculated by considering financial costs such as lost wages, benefit packages, medical bills, and funeral expenses.
If applicable, non-economic damages may also be awarded, covering aspects like emotional distress or pain and suffering for surviving family members. Additionally, punitive awards can be sought in some cases when the responsible party’s actions or inaction was grossly negligent or intentional, leading to a wrongful death. With all this in mind, attorneys are best suited to help calculate wrongful death compensation based on the specifics of each case.
How long do Denver wrongful death cases take?
The time it takes to settle a wrongful death claim in Denver varies depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. Generally, most cases will take several months to a few years for resolution.
During this period, lawyers negotiate with insurance companies to attempt to settle. If a settlement cannot be reached, they submit paperwork to the court to take the case to trial in order for victims’ families to receive fair compensation.
Bachus & Schanker: Colorado’s wrongful death experts
At Bachus & Schanker, we are Colorado’s wrongful death experts. Attorney Kyle Bachus knows firsthand the challenges of suddenly losing a loved one in an accident. Our lawyers take immediate action to get real answers for you and your family.
In addition, our clients have access to our Victim Advocates Team, which provides support and additional resources to help during this difficult time. We genuinely empathize with what you are experiencing and will be there for you and your family every step of the way to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
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Gillespie, J. (2023). Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Colorado.