A car accident. A fatal slip-and-fall. A preventable accident at a workplace. Medical mistakes or preventable hospital-borne infections. A crime that didn’t have to happen if adequate lighting or security were available. A badly made or designed product that causes a death, including medical devices. All of these can lead to a wrongful death, or the unnecessary death of an individual through negligence. This can leave grieving families with serious financial difficulties if the deceased is the family’s provider.
Colorado allows wrongful death suits to be filed on behalf of a deceased person, for the compensation he or she might have been able to recover as if they were still alive.
Several factors are involved when a person dies at the hands of another. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to recover damages from the responsible party through a lawsuit, known as “wrongful death.”
The permitted parties
In Colorado, it’s possible to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, but there are limits on who can file one, depending on the individual’s status. The Colorado Wrongful Death Act details these individuals:
- For the first year after the death, only the deceased’s spouse may file
- If the spouse does not file after the first year (or there isn’t one), any surviving children can file, as well as the spouse
- If the decedent has no surviving spouse and/or children, the deceased’s parents can file
- Anyone who would have been a beneficiary and lost an inheritance as a result of the wrongful death can file
- A representative of the deceased’s estate may also file
Relatives such as siblings, nieces and nephews aren’t permitted to file a lawsuit unless they were previously a designated beneficiary or would have been a beneficiary.
Proving wrongful death
If the wrongful death is the result of a criminal act, there will be two parts to the equation: a criminal case and a civil case. The criminal case is brought by the state, and the civil case is brought by a spouse, children, parents, or other qualified individual.
In order to prove that the individual’s negligence is responsible for the death, you’ll need to prove it with “preponderance of evidence.” This demonstrates that the defendant is more than likely than not guilty of negligence that caused the wrongful death.
Once a death is proven to be wrongful or negligent, the plaintiff can request:
- Medical, expenses, including hospital and emergency room charges.
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages, future wages, any financial benefits or anticipated inheritances (such as life insurance policy payouts)
- Punitive (“punishment”) damages to make an example of the defendant and discourage other individuals from doing the same thing
- Loss of companionship from the deceased person
- Any other accident/injury related expenses
Qualified parties have a two-year statute of limitations on filing a wrongful death lawsuit. That’s why it’s important to find a personal injury attorney who understands wrongful death laws to have the best possible outcome, and begin working with them as soon as possible.
Wrongful death attorney in Denver, Colorado
The death of a loved one is always difficult. But knowing that someone else’s negligence caused a needless death makes it even worse.
If you believe your loved one’s death was negligent as well as preventable, call the Civil Rights Litigation Group at (720) 515-6165, or use our online contact form, to schedule your free consultation with us today.