Wrongful Death Lawyers in Aurora, Colorado
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Personal injuries range from the merely frustrating to the truly catastrophic. Among the most traumatic are those causing wrongful deaths, after which surviving family members may seek compensation for their losses. Ultimately, the loss of a loved one cannot be reduced to a monetary value. Still, the law attempts to provide at least some avenues for compensation with the assistance of Aurora wrongful death lawyers.
Zinda Law Group is here to help you navigate these avenues, for we believe no victim of a personal injury case should face the path to compensation alone, and our Aurora wrongful death lawyers are here to help.
If you have suffered the loss of a loved one and are considering filing a wrongful death suit, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with an experienced accident lawyer near you.
national accidental fatality statistics
According to the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injury is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. In 2020, there were a total of 200,955 unintentional-injury deaths (61.0 deaths per 100,000 population) nationwide; notably, the unintentional-injury death rate increased by 40% between 1999 and 2017 (from 35.3 deaths per 100,000 population to 49.4). The following statistics provide specific details on just a few scenarios that might give rise to a wrongful death case.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
When we think of personal injury, the leading example that comes to most minds are vehicle accidents, and understandably so. In 2020, motor vehicle accident deaths totaled to 40,698 nationwide (12.4 deaths per 100,000 population). Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in the first half of 2021 alone, 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes; this number represents an 18.4% increase from the 17,020 fatalities in the first half of the previous year and the highest half-year percentage increase since 2006.
Though fatalities associated with motor vehicle accidents are common, it may surprise some to know that deaths associated with unintentional falls are even more so. In 2020, the CDC reported a total of 42,114 deaths caused by falls. Older people (age of 65 and over) are particularly vulnerable to fall-related injuries; between 2007–2016, the fall-related death rate among this demographic increased by 30% in the United States. If the trend continues, it will translate to seven fall-related deaths every hour by the year 2030.
Sadly, death by unintentional poisoning is even more common than traffic-related and fall-related deaths; in 2020, the CDC reported at total of 87,404 deaths by unintentional poisoning (26.5 deaths per 100,000 population). According to the National Safety Council (NSC), this number has been on the rise for years. In 2000, the NSC reported 12,186 deaths by unintentional poisoning (4.4 deaths per 100,000 population); by 2019, the number more than quadrupled to 65,773 deaths (20 deaths per 100,000 population).
Unintentional Drug Overdose
Drug overdoses are often measured as a specific category of poisoning. Unsurprisingly, the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States is the leading culprit behind the 45,489 preventable deaths caused by opioid overdoses in 2019; those between the ages of 25 and 54 account for 73% of the fatalities. In particular, there were 12,537 such deaths among those aged 25–34 years in 2019; this represents a 4% increase from 2018 and a 921% increase since 1999. Males are especially vulnerable, accounting for 32,131 deaths in 2019 compared to 13,358 female deaths.
Injuries Among Children and Teens
Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death among children and teens in the United States; in 2019, the CDC reported 7,000 unintentional fatalities among those aged 0–19 years. This represents about 20 deaths per day and an increase of 11% since 2010. If you have lost a child in a fatal accident in Aurora, our Aurora personal injury lawyers are ready to help you pursue every legal avenue to vindicate your loss.
Leading causes of wrongful DEath
The various combinations of accidents and injuries as well as the degrees of intentionality in misbehavior—from negligence and recklessness to outright purposefulness—that ultimately give rise to a personal injury case are, quite literally, limitless. In other words, each personal injury case is unique and requires case-by-case attention; wrongful death cases are no exception, and our experienced wrongful death lawyers in Aurora are ready to handle your case.
Below are a few broad categories of wrongful death cases we encounter regularly:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
We are all, of course, familiar with auto accidents; they are commonplace occurrences and are, perhaps, the most characteristic kind of personal injury case. In particular, when envisioning an auto accident, most people probably think of a collision between two standard passenger vehicles. These collisions can be catastrophic in their own right.
However, auto accidents involving larger commercial vehicles are particularly dangerous and present unique legal challenges. The most obvious source of increased danger is the size differential between large commercial vehicles (for example, an 18-wheeler or a passenger bus) and smaller vehicles intended for personal or family use. Simply put, passengers in a smaller vehicle are at a huge disadvantage in a collision with a larger vehicle.
Further, commercial-vehicle accidents involve a number of legal considerations that do not generally arise in accidents between non-commercial vehicles. In particular, there are typically more sources of liability when commercial actors are involved. In an accident involving a loaded 18-wheeler with a cross-country shipment, for example, liability may flow from the shipper, the trucking company, the loader, brokers, and even truck parts or rig manufacturers.
In any serious car accident, you should consult with an attorney. This is especially true when commercial vehicles are involved. If your loved one died in an Aurora car crash, call our Aurora wrongful death lawyers for a free consultation.
The most common legal theory in a personal injury case is the concept of “negligence.” To show negligence, a plaintiff must show that a culpable party breached a duty to use “reasonable care” and that, as a result, the plaintiff suffered a compensable harm. This is often complicated enough.
However, in a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff must generally prove that the medical professional breached a duty to use reasonable care measured against the prevailing standard of care in the profession. Put differently, where in a standard negligence case the duty of care can be measured intuitively against what an average person may find “reasonable,” in a medical malpractice case the duty of care must be measured against the prevailing standards in the highly technical world of medicine. This can make medical malpractice cases very factually complex.
Workplace accidents comprise a diverse category of personal injury scenarios. Among the most common kinds of workplace accidents are those that occur on construction sites or in heavy industry. These workplaces are often among the most dangerous and prone to accidents.
Further, accidents that occur on sites like these often implicate multiple sources of liability. For example, on a construction site, accident liability may flow from the site owner, the construction company, various contractors and subcontractors, suppliers, and even manufacturers of construction equipment. Like accidents involving commercial vehicles and medical malpractice, such accidents require the attention of an experienced attorney.
Regardless of where the workplace accident occurred, victims and their families often also need help understanding the sources of potential compensation. In particular, an attorney is often necessary to make informed decisions regarding state-by-state worker’s compensation laws and their impact on other sources of compensation. If you lost a loved one in a workplace accident in Aurora, our Aurora personal injury attorneys are ready to help you understand your options.
Unlike most personal injury cases, in which liability typically requires a showing of negligence on the part of the defendant, defective products cases instead employ a concept known as “strict” liability. This simply means that a defendant is liable for injuries caused by their defective product regardless of whether they were negligent or reckless. To successfully bring a products liability case, a plaintiff generally need only show that they used a product purchased from a commercial seller and that a defect—present in that product while it was in the seller’s control—caused an injury.
There are three broad categories of defects: Design defects are those inherent to a product and are present before the product is manufactured. Manufacturing defects are those that are not inherent to a product but are introduced during production. Marketing defects are those associated with a failure to properly warn consumers (for example, with labels or instruction manuals) of potential or unforeseeable dangers in a product.
Proving the nature of a defect, when in was introduced, who introduced it, and whether it was the true cause of an injury can become factually complex very quickly; this is because most products and their constituent parts pass through many hands before being purchased by a consumer. This factual complexity also requires the attention of an experienced attorney. If you are seeking compensation for fatal accident in Aurora caused by a defective product, our Aurora personal injury lawyers are ready to help.
“Wrongful Death” vs. “Survival Action”
Legally, there are two distinct causes of action that can be brought to seek compensation from a culpable party in the event of a death: a “wrongful death” claim and a “survival action.” The difference between the two is straightforward and worth noting.
In a wrongful death case, close family members file a civil action against an at-fault party to seek compensation for the death of a loved one (legally referred to as the “decedent”). Damages in a wrongful death case are perceived to compensate the family members. Damages may compensate for emotional pain and suffering of the family, lost income caused by the death, funeral expenses, and medical bills.
By contrast, a survival action is brought not by family members on their own behalf but by the estate of the deceased person. Damages in a survival action are perceived to compensate the estate; any damages awarded to the estate may then be distributed according to probate or the decedent’s will. Again, damages may include compensation for the decedent’s pain and suffering prior to death, lost earnings, funeral expenses, and medical expenses.
COlorado wrongful death statute
Many states, including Colorado, have specific laws in place governing wrongful death suits. Though these statutes bear many similarities, the differences are often key. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the law in your state.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit in Colorado?
Wrongful death suits are brought by close family members seeking compensation for the loss of a relative. The law in Colorado places very specific limits on who may bring such a suit.
In the first year after a death, the decedent’s spouse takes precedent in bringing a wrongful death suit. However, with the spouse’s consent, suit may also be brought separately by the decedent’s heirs (for example, their children or grandchildren) or jointly with the spouse. If there is no spouse, the decedent’s heirs or designated beneficiaries may bring a wrongful death suit.
By contrast, the spouse does not take precedent in bringing suit if initiated in the second year after a death. At that point, a spouse, heirs, or designated beneficiaries may bring suit. Further, if the decedent was unmarried and had no heirs or beneficiaries, the decedent’s parents may bring a wrongful death suit.
Needless to say, the legal implications of these various relations and their power to bring suit can also become complex. Sadly, in the event of a death, they can also lead to intense conflict between the surviving family members. Our experienced personal injury lawyers in Aurora can help you navigate these difficulties.
Read more: Colorado Revised Statute § 13-21-201, Damages for Death
What Can Be Recovered?
Again, damages in a wrongful death suit are designed to compensate the surviving family members. Economic damages compensate for loss reduceable to a monetary value; non-economic damages compensate for loss that cannot be so reduced. Economic damages include lost wages, life insurance, and funeral/burial expenses; non-economic damages include pain and suffering, grief, loss of companionship (sometimes known as “loss of consortium”), and emotional distress.
There is no cap on the economic damages a court may award; noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are statutorily limited to $250,000 per decedent (this number is adjusted for inflation every two years). The number is different for deaths arising from medical malpractice; further, no cap applies if the death was caused by a “felonious killing” (for example, murder or manslaughter). Our Aurora personal injury lawyers can help you understand the impact of these caps and exceptions on your case.
Read more: Colorado Revised Statute § 13-21-203, Limitation on Damages
What is a Statute of Limitations?
Personal injury actions, including wrongful deaths, are governed by “statutes of limitations” set by each state; these laws simply set a deadline after which no one can bring a case seeking compensation. In Colorado, the deadline is two years after the death. This is a very straightforward but all-important concept because, typically, the deadline acts as an absolute bar against suit once time has elapsed.
In other words, if you are contemplating bringing a wrongful death suit, time is of the essence, and you should not wait to speak with an attorney. Our Aurora personal injury attorneys are a call away.
Read more: Colorado Revised Statute § 13-21-204, Limitation of Actions
Should I Speak to an Attorney?
If you have suffered the loss of a loved one and are contemplating bringing a wrongful death claim, you are highly advised to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you speak with an attorney, the better they will be able to work with you to analyze the applicable law, gather the relevant evidence, devise an effective strategy, and ultimately help you secure maximum compensation.
Further, having one of our Aurora wrongful death attorneys evaluate your case can ensure that you know your full rights and are being treated fairly. In particular, beware of speaking to potential defendants or insurance companies about your case prior to consulting with an attorney. Remember that anything you say to an insurance company can be used against you in litigation. Therefore, never sign forms or waivers provided by an insurance company and never admit fault before consulting with an attorney.
OUR AUrora wrongful death lawyers CAN HELP
Zinda Law Group’s personal injury attorneys in Aurora are here to help. We believe that no personal injury victim—including surviving family members of a wrongful death—should lack excellent legal representation on their path toward compensation. As compassionate and capable attorneys, we pride ourselves in providing that representation.
If you have lost a loved one and are considering bringing a wrongful death case, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our Aurora personal injury lawyers. Tell us about your case, and we will tell you how we can help. You pay nothing unless we win your case; that is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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