What Is A Wrongful Death Claim In Colorado?
A wrongful death claim, in Colorado, is a civil claim in which a surviving family member attempts to establish the liability of a person or a company for the death of a person. In order to establish liability, the family member must prove that the death was caused by the negligence or intentional behavior of the other person or company. Many types of events and injuries that can result in a personal injury case, like car accidents, slip and falls, or injuries caused by defective products, can also be the cause of a wrongful death suit.
A wrongful death suit can be thought of as a personal injury case in which the injured person is no longer alive to be able pursue their own claim in a Colorado court. Instead, one of their surviving relatives must step in and file the claim on behalf of the deceased individual and his or her estate, with the assistance of a skilled Greenwood Village personal injury attorney who has experience in wrongful death cases.
There are times when a wrongful death suit can coexist with a criminal case against the negligent party. This is especially true in cases of DUI and victims of drunk drivers. The accused person, in these cases, would be wise to consult with an attorney who is experienced in both criminal defense and personal injury law.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim In Colorado?
Colorado laws specify who is allowed to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased individual. The surviving spouse of a deceased person is the only relative who is permitted to file a wrongful death claim within the first one-year period after the death. Within the second year after the death, the surviving children of the deceased person can file a claim, along with the surviving spouse.
If the deceased person left behind no surviving spouse or surviving children, then their parents are allowed to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf, in Colorado. The representative of the deceased person’s estate can also file a claim to recover damages for some types of losses to the estate. This type of claim is called a survival action and can also be handled by your Arapahoe County wrongful death attorney.
Is There Any Legal Difference Between A Child’s Wrongful Death And That Of An Adult?
Determining the value of the life of a person of any age is incredibly difficult. However, parents’ damages after the loss of a child are legally limited to only their financial damages. This is because children have not contributed to the household, in the form of an income. The damages will be determined by charts considering the child’s life expectancy, health, and future earning potential.
What Types Of Damages Can I Seek In My Colorado Wrongful Death Claim?
While it is true that no amount of money can replace the loss of a loved one, Colorado law does allow surviving family members to receive compensation for some of their financial losses, such as the value of certain household services. If your wife was the one who cooked and did laundry for the family and after her death, you’ve needed to hire someone for these tasks, you can ask to receive compensation to pay for these expenses.
You may also seek out the future financial support you would have depended on. If your family relied upon your loved one for financial support, you can ask the court for compensation equal to the amount of financial support you were expecting to receive from your loved one in the future. Your Colorado personal injury attorney can help you to calculate this amount by looking to your loved one’s age, education, experience, and work history at the time of their death.
In a wrongful death suit, you may also ask to be compensated for funeral and burial expenses, future gifts, or benefits you would have received from your loved one, along with the loss of guidance, attention, companionship, or sexual intimacy you’ve experienced and will continue to experience. Your relative’s estate can also bring a survival action, asking for compensation for the medical expenses that were incurred before death and the pain and suffering your loved one surely endured before his death.
The loss of companionship or guidance is much harder to calculate than financial support because there is no document or formula that identifies their value to you. You and your Greenwood Village wrongful death attorney will need to be creative and convincing in how you prove these intangible losses. Depending on the evidence you show, you could receive as much or more compensation for these intangible losses as you do for the loss of future income.
In Colorado wrongful death cases, damages are assessed by either the jury or the judge. The amount of the damages awarded will depend on the specific facts of the case. In general, family members who file a wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado are limited to asking to be compensated for damages including wages that the deceased would have earned if he or she had lived, benefits (such as life insurance) lost as a result of the untimely death, and loss of the love, guidance, companionship, care, assistance, and protection of the deceased loved one. The representative of the deceased person’s estate is the one who may seek damages for losses suffered by the estate. These can include medical expenses related to the deceased person’s fatal injury, their funeral, and their burial expenses.
An Arapahoe County wrongful death claim is a civil case, which means that it is filed by the surviving family members or personal representative, or on their behalf by their wrongful death attorney. Liability in wrongful death cases is expressed solely in terms of monetary damages. This differs in two ways from a criminal case. In a criminal case, the case is always filed by the state or federal prosecutor, not by an individual citizen. Guilt is punished with a period of incarceration, probation, fines, or other penalties. A civil wrongful death claim can be filed by a surviving family member, even if a criminal case is proceeding at the same time, based on the same facts. For example, if a car accident causes the death of a person and the state files a criminal vehicular homicide case against the surviving driver, it does not stop the family or the representative of the deceased driver from bringing a wrongful death case to court against them as well.
For more information on Wrongful Death Claims In Colorado, a free personalized case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (303) 429-6200 today.
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