CALL (800)-863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH A DENVER WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS LAWYER about filing a Suit for Someone Who Died
No amount of money can replace a loved one, but if another individual caused the untimely death of someone you love, you may be left with extensive financial burdens, grief, and uncertainty about what’s next.
WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
It is difficult to put a price tag on a human life. While there is no perfect measurement, the justice system allows loved ones to recover for their loss is by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death claim arises when someone is killed through the negligent or intentional act of another. This could include instances such as drunk driving, a workplace accident, or medical malpractice.
A wrongful death claim can be thought of as the victim’s loved ones stepping in and filing suit for the deceased person, since the victim is unable to file a personal injury claim themselves. A wrongful death claim can help alleviate the financial and emotional strain on survivors from the sudden loss of love, support, and income an individual provided before their death.
WHO CAN FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
Filing suit for someone who died in Denver can be a daunting task for anyone. In Colorado, only certain individuals can bring a wrongful death claim. The law also limits who may file these claims and the time periods they have to file. In general, Colorado law gives the spouse priority to file a claim.
In the first year after a victim’s death, only the victim’s spouse may file a wrongful death claim. The deceased’s children can join in the claim, but only if the spouse gives written permission. If there is no spouse, the surviving children or a designated beneficiary can file a claim.
During the second year after the deceased’s death, the surviving spouse, surviving children, or a designated beneficiary of the deceased person can file a claim. If the deceased person left no surviving spouse and no surviving children, then the deceased person’s parents may file a wrongful death claim in Colorado.
HOW IS A WRONGFUL DEATH CASE VALUE DETERMINED?
Determining the exact value of a wrongful death case will depend on several factors. It can be extremely complicated to determine the exact amount in a wrongful death suit. Experts, such as economists and actuaries, will often be used to help determine the dollar amount the deceased individual contributed and would have continued to provide if not for their death. Survivors may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages from a wrongful death lawsuit.
Economic damages include the tangible financial contributions the deceased would have provided to the survivors if they had not died. The calculation may be based, in part, on the deceased’s age, health prior to death, and earning capacity. The ages of the deceased’s children and the type of assistance that would have been provided can also be factors to determine the value. These may include:
- Loss of expected earnings, including the amount the deceased would have earned over their career
- Loss of benefits, such as health insurance, dental coverage, and pension plans
- Loss of inheritance, including the inability to accumulate money to provide an inheritance to beneficiaries
- Medical and funeral expenses, including medical care from the accident that resulted in the death of the victim
- Value of the goods and services that the deceased provided for survivors
Although non-economic damages may be harder to calculate, they can oftentimes have more value than economic damages. Non-economic damages can be used to help with the devastating loss of a loved one and the nurturing and supportive role they played in the lives of their survivors. These damages could include:
- Pain and suffering for the deceased’s survivors
- Loss of consortium of a spouse
- Loss of companionship including support, care, and guidance from the deceased
In some cases, proving that the survivors have experienced pain and suffering may be a difficult task, especially for a strained or limited relationship. Colorado law allows the party bringing the action to file a “solatium” claim instead of proving that they suffered from emotional anguish. In these cases, recovery is capped at $50,000 with adjustments for inflation, but claimants will not need to prove their non-economic losses.
In cases where a defendant acts in a seriously reckless or malicious manner and those actions resulted in the deceased’s death, then punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and discourage similar behavior in the future. In Colorado, a trial court must first review the evidence before a plaintiff can claim punitive damages. An experienced wrongful death attorney may be able to assist in determining whether punitive damages are applicable in your situation.
COMMON WRONGFUL DEATH SETTLEMENT QUESTIONS
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
If you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you need to be aware of the time limits, or statutes of limitations, that are in place. In Colorado, you have two years from the victim’s death to file a wrongful death claim. However, it is best to contact a Denver wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to help you navigate the filing timeline and seek the compensation you may deserve.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim If There Is an Ongoing Criminal Case?
Yes, a wrongful death claim may be filed for someone who died in Denver even if a criminal case is proceeding based on the same facts. This is because a wrongful death claim is a civil case, and must be brought by the family or representative. If a defendant is found at fault in a civil case, they will have to pay money damages. In contrast, a criminal case is brought by the state or prosecutor, and if the defendant is found to be at fault, they may face time in prison, probation, or other penalties.
Will My Case Go to Trial?
The majority of cases are settled without going to trial because both parties can come to an agreement on a fair compensation value for a wrongful death claim. If you go to trial after filing suit for someone who died in Denver, you may risk losing your case, receiving delayed compensation, or fighting an appeal. All of these possibilities mean that your case will take longer and you will not receive compensation as quickly as if you had settled.
However, sometimes going to trial is necessary. Our experienced attorneys understand a fair wrongful death lawsuit compensation value. If a settlement offer isn’t fair, our attorneys may take the case to trial and continue to fight for you. Our Denver wrongful death attorneys are skilled in evaluating your options and whether a settlement or trial will be best for your case.
Can Other Relatives File a Wrongful Death Claim?
If a victim dies and does not leave behind a spouse, children, or parents, other relatives will not be able to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. Colorado courts have held that siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other close relatives cannot pursue a claim. This means that if the only surviving relatives of the deceased are not a spouse, child, parent, or named beneficiary, a wrongful death case cannot be brought.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Our wrongful death lawyers are here to handle your case through every part of the process. This may include helping to file your claim and determining the potential damages you may be able to receive. Our wrongful death lawyers have extensive experience investigating, negotiating, settling, and going to court for wrongful death claims.
We recognize that this may be one of the most difficult times of your life. Let us handle your legal case and provide the knowledge and support to move your case forward. We will fight to make sure you and your loved ones receive the compensation you may deserve.
ZINDA LAW GROUP’S WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEYS CAN HELP YOU
At Zinda Law Group, our wrongful death attorneys have helped many survivors get the compensation they deserved after losing a loved one in a tragic accident caused by another party’s negligence or intentional actions. We understand that no amount of money can replace your loved one, but we want to help ensure you receive the financial and emotional support you deserve.
We believe that you should never have to worry about being able to afford legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
If you lost a loved one in an accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800)-863-5312 to receive your free consultation with one of our experienced Denver wrongful death attorneys.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.