Losing somebody that you care about is incredibly challenging, and families in these situations will undoubtedly be going through the emotional processes of grieving and adjusting to new circumstances. This is particularly true for those who lose a loved one unexpectedly due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual, business, or entity. At The O’Sullivan Law Firm, we are here to help if you need a Denver personal injury attorney by your side. Our team will fully investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death in an effort to determine liability and help you secure the compensation and closure you are entitled to.
Wrongful death claims in Denver can become incredibly challenging, particularly for family members who do not have much legal expertise or resources. An attorney will level the playing field and be the powerhouse behind grieving family members as they stand up to the individual(s) who caused their loved one’s death. An attorney can use their resources to:
When we look at the law regarding wrongful death cases in Colorado, we can see that wrongful death is defined as a death caused by “a wrongful act, negligent, or default of another” individual or entity.
There are various ways that these claims can arise. At The O’Sullivan Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers regularly help family members of those who have lost a loved one due to the following:
Our team is standing by to help family members in these situations. If you are unsure of whether or not we will be able to help you with your case, please contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation as soon as possible. We will examine the facts of the claim and help determine the best steps moving forward.
After a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed, the plaintiffs in the case (the estate representative or family members) will still have to prove various elements of negligence before any damages can be awarded. In order to prove that a defendant was negligent, the following elements need to be in place:
Family members may be entitled to various types of compensation after losing a loved one due to the negligence, or reckless actions, of another party. In general, we will break the damages awarded down into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are those paid to the deceased’s surviving family members and their estate to cover the financial losses associated with the death. Some of the most common types of economic damages awarded in these situations include the following:
Non-economic damages can be more challenging to quantify because they deal with the intangible losses suffered by the deceased’s family as a result of the death. Some of the most common non-economic damages awarded in these situations include compensation for:
Colorado law determines who is able to file a wrongful death claim. The law also has stipulations about who can file based on how soon after the death has occurred.
In the first year following a person’s death, only the deceased’s surviving spouse is allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, there are some exceptions to this. The surviving spouse may choose to allow the deceased’s children to file the claim or join with the deceased’s children in filing the claim. If the deceased was unmarried at the time of their death, then the deceased’s children or designated beneficiary will be allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In the second year following the deceased’s death, any of the following parties are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit:
One of the most common defenses a person accused of causing a wrongful death will use will be to try to lay some or all of the responsibility for the death on the deceased individual. This is not uncommon to how things happen in a personal injury case. Often, the person accused of causing the injury will try to shift fault to the injury victim to limit how much money they have to pay in compensation.
Colorado operates under something called the “modified comparative negligence” system. Under this type of system, a person partially responsible for causing their injury can still receive compensation so long as they are not more than 50% responsible for the incident. However, the total amount of compensation they receive will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. We will also see this type of system play out for wrongful death claims.
If a person has lost their life due to the negligence of another individual, but they were also partially responsible, their family members and estate may receive reduced compensation based on this partial fault. For example, if a person loses their life in a vehicle accident and they are found to have been 30% responsible for the incident, the total compensation will be reduced by 30%. So, let us suppose that a family is awarded $1,000,000 in total compensation for what happened. This would then be reduced by $300,000 to reach a total of $700,000.
Families in Colorado need to be aware they have a limited amount of time to file these claims in court. The Colorado wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date of the deceased’s death. If family members fail to file their claim within this two-year window, they will lose the ability to recover the compensation they are entitled to.
However, there are some exceptions to this two-year rule. If a person loses their life in a vehicle accident, the wrongful death statute of limitations is extended to three years from the date of the accident or the discovery of the injury from the vehicle accident that caused the death. Additionally, if the defendant in the case attempts to hide any facts or evidence so that the cause of the death cannot be discovered, this two-year statute of limitations may also be extended.
If you have lost a loved one due to the careless or negligent actions of somebody else, please seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At The O’Sullivan Law Firm, our team has extensive experience handling complex wrongful death cases throughout Colorado, and we understand what it takes to help grieving families secure the closure and compensation they need. We will not hesitate to stand up to aggressive insurance carriers or at-fault parties in these situations. When you need a Denver wrongful death lawyer, you can contact us online for a free consultation or call us at (303) 388-5304.