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Wrongful Death

It’s never easy when a death happens to a loved one, and it can be made even worse when someone else is at fault for their death. When someone’s wrongful act causes someone to die, this can be considered wrongful death. There are many ways that a wrongful death can happen to a victim. Many types of negligence can lead to someone’s death. Some acts are done intentionally to harm someone. Whether someone was driving carelessly or assaulted someone, the result can be a wrongful death that the perpetrator is responsible for. After the death, someone can bring legal action against the person responsible so that the victim’s family is compensated for the death. These lawsuits are called wrongful death claims.

Parties Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado

The state of Colorado has very specific rules about who can bring a wrongful death claim to court. There are also several time restrictions on who can file. According to Colorado Statute 12-21-201, the statute of limitations is spelled out along with who can file during those times. Not just anyone can bring a wrongful death suit, and there’s a specific amount of time when they are allowed to be filed.

From the date that the person dies, there is a one-year period where the deceased’s surviving spouse can bring a wrongful death suit. If the surviving spouse agrees in writing, the heirs can bring the suit along with the spouse, or the heirs can bring a claim by themselves. If there isn’t a spouse who survives the deceased, the heirs of the deceased or a designated beneficiary can bring a wrongful death claim.

Once a year has passed, the second year begins. During the second year, there is a wide range of people who can file a suit and do so without getting anyone else’s permission. During this year, the claim can be brought by the deceased’s living spouse, the deceased’s heirs, a designated beneficiary, or both the heirs and spouse of the deceased. These parties can bring a suit without needing written permission from the spouse during this year.

There are some situations in which the parents of the deceased can file a claim for wrongful death. If the wrongful death victim is a child, the parents have the right to file this type of claim. If the deceased person was an adult and had no surviving children or spouse, it’s also possible for parents to file a claim. When parents bring a wrongful death suit, each parent will have an equal amount of the judgment. If there is one surviving parent and one deceased parent, the living parent will exclusively get the judgment.

The general statute of limitations for all wrongful death suits in Colorado is two years from the date of the victim’s death. After exactly two years from that date, no suit can be brought by anyone. If negligence or an intentional act causes a wrongful death, the suit must be filed as soon as possible to avoid getting too close to the deadline from the state’s statute of limitations.

What Kind of Damages Can You Claim?

In a wrongful death suit, several different types of damages can be included in the claim. When the victim was an adult, the spouse, heirs, or beneficiary can include these damages in the suit:

  • Expenses for the funeral and burial
  • The medical expenses caused by the injury or illness that led to the death
  • The loss of the services done by the deceased and the income that they had
  • The pain and suffering of the victim
  • The emotional loss and end of companionship of the deceased

The pain and suffering portion of the damages is capped in Colorado at $250,000. There is also a $250,000 cap for the emotional and companionship loss of the deceased. If the deceased is a child, the damages are often a little different. They generally include just the financial damages because children don’t provide services or an income to the household. There may also be punitive damages possible in Colorado when there were reckless or willful actions that caused the death. If the wrongful death was due to medical negligence, there is also a cap on the amount of damages that can be awarded. This is damages of $1 million with $300,000 or less of it being for pain and suffering. If the deceased did not leave behind a spouse, there is a $250,000 cap for the damages that the family can get. If it’s due to medical negligence, this amount of $300,000. If there is clear evidence that there is justification for a higher amount, the cap can be put at $500,000 total.

Wrongful death and injury attorneys need to have plenty of experience in these cases to take on a wrongful death suit. If you don’t have wrongful death or personal injury lawyers, you can contact us at the Morgan Law Group for help.