Wrongful death lawsuits in Colorado

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Denver, CO?

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.

Available compensation

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.


Is there a time limit to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado?

Losing a loved one is always difficult, no matter what the circumstances. Should the loss be a result of another’s negligence, you do have a possible legal recourse: a wrongful death lawsuit. Although wrongful death is a form of a personal injury lawsuit, the rules are somewhat different.

You may be wondering why you would file a lawsuit after you’ve been through the grief of a funeral and handling the deceased’s final affairs (such as reading a will, cleaning out their home, or closing accounts.) Filing a wrongful death suit could bring financial recovery for your damages as well as closure for you and your family.

wrongful death suit

What wrongful death means

This is a civil suit, not a criminal one, and establishes the liability of another individual or entity in the death of another person. In the case of a vehicular accident, a criminal case would be a separate action, and would likely not involve the recovery of damages like a civil suit would.

The state of Colorado describes a wrongful death as one that you, as a plaintiff, would need to establish that the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional behavior caused the incident.

Think of it this way: if the deceased were still alive, could they have filed a personal injury lawsuit for themselves? If so, you may be able to file a wrongful death suit, since it’s a personal injury suit on behalf of a deceased individual.

Depending on the circumstances of the wrongful death, a lawsuit may also give you additional answers. Our free consultation will give you more details so you can make an informed decision.

Colorado’s statute of limitations

If you are considering a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s important to speak with an attorney immediately. Colorado allows two years from the date of the incident to file. After that, your lawsuit will be dismissed, and you’ll lose your rights to any claims. There are some rare, limited exceptions, but as a rule, the limit is two years.

One exception is for a car accident, in which the driver is convicted of vehicular homicide as well as leaving the scene of the accident. If a jury convicts the driver on both charges, the time limit for filing will become four years.

Since there are some exceptions to the two-year time frame, don’t assume your time has passed to file. A Colorado wrongful death attorney can review your case and let you know what your options are.

Recovering financial damages for wrongful death

Since wrongful death is a form of personal injury lawsuit, you may be able to recover many of the same damages, such as:

  • Medical expenses for the deceased
  • Funeral expenses for the deceased
  • Pain and suffering on behalf of the individual
  • Lost benefits, current and future wages, and inheritance, such as a life insurance policy
  • Other related expenses
  • Punitive damages, or “punishment,” to deter others from committing the same negligence

Colorado does not have “damage caps” on lost wages, but does restrict punitive damages.

Who can file a wrongful death suit?

The Colorado’s Wrongful Death Act sets specific limits on who may file a wrongful death lawsuit.

In the first year after the death, a surviving spouse may file a wrongful death suit. If, after that year, the spouse does not file, the surviving children as well as the spouse can file. If the decedent has no spouse or children, his or her parents can file at any time, but if they choose not to file, the parents will be unable to file.

A representative of the deceased’s estate may also file a lawsuit, including any beneficiaries who lost an inheritance as a result of the deceased’s passing.

Denver’s wrongful death attorney

Our attorneys understand the pain and difficulty of filing a wrongful death suit after losing a loved one through another’s negligence. We can work with you to help you through the legal process.

Call the Civil Rights Litigation Group at (720) 515-6165, or use our online contact form, to schedule your free consultation with us today.

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Civil Rights Litigation Group

1543 Champa St., Suite #400

Denver, CO 80202

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