CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH FORT COLLINS WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYERS FOR FREE
The loss of a loved one is always a painful tragedy, but it may be made more painful when their death was caused by someone else’s negligent behavior. This sudden loss may cause significant financial hardships for surviving loved ones, leaving the surviving spouse or children struggling to make ends meet.
If you have lost a loved one in an accident, call the experienced Fort Collins wrongful death attorneys from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. If we are unable to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
COMMON CAUSES OF WRONGFUL DEATH
Wrongful death is generally defined as an unnecessary death that was caused by another party’s negligence or recklessness. While car accidents cause many wrongful deaths, other common causes of fatal accidents include:
- Workplace accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and falls
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Defective products
- Construction accidents
WHAT TO DO IN A WRONGFUL DEATH CASE
1. Contact a Fort Collins Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you have lost a loved one in an accident, you should contact a wrongful death lawyer in Fort Collins as soon as possible to discuss your potential options. An experienced lawyer may help you understand the potential liability of other parties as well as handling your case and any investigation. After discussing your options, your attorney may help you file your wrongful death lawsuit, investigate the evidence thoroughly, prove the negligence or liability of the at-fault parties, and seek a satisfactory settlement.
2. Investigate Your Accident
After consulting an attorney, he or she may immediately begin investigating the fatal accident to better understand how it occurred, such as by photographing the scene, interviewing witnesses, and recording any additional information that may be helpful in proving your case.
3. Gather Documentation
You may often need to gather various documentation to support your wrongful death lawsuit. First, you should obtain a death certificate for your loved one, available from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. You should also attempt to gather and document as much evidence as possible related to your loved one’s accident. This evidence may include any pictures of the accident scene, any witness statements or contact information, any accident reports, or any other information about the accident.
4. Negotiate a Settlement
As with most negligence claims, the other party’s insurer may attempt to begin negotiating to lower the overall payment amount to settle your claim. Evidence such as that showing negligence of the other party as well as supporting your claim. During these early stages, your attorney may continue to work on the investigation to help prove the liability of the at-fault party. After your initial offer, the insurer may make a counteroffer while disputing aspects of your claim, such as the evidence indicating the other party’s liability for your loved one’s death. Your Fort Collins wrongful death lawyer may continue negotiating until the insurer agrees to a satisfactory settlement offer. If the insurer refuses to agree to a satisfactory settlement offer, your attorney may then take your case to court.
If negotiations are not successful, your lawyer may take your case to trial and present your claim before a jury or judge to prove your loved one’s death was caused by the other party’s negligence or recklessness. At trial, your Fort Collins wrongful death attorney may present evidence gathered during the investigation to prove the other party acted with negligence or recklessness and breached a duty of care to your loved one, resulting in the victim’s death.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
When seeking compensation in Larimer County and the state of Colorado for a wrongful death claim, any potential lawsuit must be filed within the applicable legal time limits, called the statute of limitations. CO Rev. Stat. § 13-21-204 and CO Rev. Stat. § 13-80-102 establish a statute of limitations of two years for wrongful death claims in Colorado.
However, Colorado also has specific laws governing the time frame for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Only the victim’s surviving spouse may file a claim within the first year. After the first year has passed, any surviving children or spouse may file a claim. If the victim did not have a spouse or any children, the victim’s parents may file a wrongful death claim.
WRONGFUL DEATH OF A CHILD
Wrongful death claims involving children may be different than claims involving a deceased spouse. If the wrongful death victim was a minor, the child’s parents may file a wrongful death claim, so long as the minor did not have a spouse or any children. However, damages in a wrongful death claim for a deceased child may often be limited to economic damages. Loss of consortium damages may also be unavailable in many cases as well as lost income if the minor was not working or did not have any dependents.
FREQUENTLY ASKED WRONGFUL DEATH QUESTIONS
What Must Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Case?
Like other negligence claims, a wrongful death suit requires proving four main elements. First, your Fort Collins wrongful death lawyer may prove the other party had a duty of care, such as the duty of care to avoid causing a car accident. Next, it must be shown that the other party’s behavior breached this duty of care, such as by driving drunk. If it can be shown the other party breached the applicable duty of care, the victim’s loved ones must then show that this breach actually caused the victim’s death. Finally, while negligence claims typically require proving that the other party’s breach caused damage to the victim, the damages are generally presumed in a wrongful death case, as the accident resulted in the victim’s death.
Who May Be Liable for Wrongful Death?
The liable party in wrongful death claims often varies depending upon the nature of the accident which caused the victim’s death. In vehicle accident cases, the liable parties may be the at-fault driver, the car manufacturer, the at-fault driver’s employer, the vehicle’s owner, or the government entity responsible for maintenance of the roadways. For workplace accidents, the employer may often be liable for crediting or not preventing unsafe work conditions. Property owners may often be found liable in slip and fall cases or other fatal accidents occurring on the owner’s property. If your loved one died as the result of medical malpractice, the doctor or other medical staff who may have treated your loved one may be liable. Finally, product manufacturers and product manufacturers may be responsible if a defective product caused your loved one’s death.
What is the Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages?
Economic damages include financial costs incurred by the victim, or victim’s family in the case of wrongful death claims, as a result of the accident. Economic damages frequently include compensation for medical expenses, such as any hospital bills before the victim died, as well as funeral costs. Economic damages may also include lost income between the time of the accident and the time of the victim’s death.
Meanwhile, non-economic damages may often include compensation for the pain and suffering the victim may have experienced before death. The victim’s family may also be entitled to non-economic damages for emotional distress caused by the victim’s death. Finally, the victim’s children may be entitled to compensation for losing parental guidance and the parent’s care, while the victim’s spouse may also be entitled to compensation for the loss of consortium or loss of companionship caused by their spouse’s death.
Are Punitive Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Colorado?
Punitive damages may be available in some cases. Colorado law on punitive damages differs from many states, as CO Rev. Stat. § 13-21-102 requires trial courts to conduct a thorough review of the evidence before a plaintiff may assert a claim for punitive damages. Thus, punitive damages cannot be requested when the wrongful death lawsuit is filed. Rather, the victim’s loved ones must wait until after the court finds clear and convincing evidence that shows punitive damages are appropriate in that case.
HOW A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT ATTORNEY IN FORT COLLINS MAY HELP
Wrongful death lawsuits may often be more complicated than other personal injury cases, as the claim is based on the death of a loved one rather than your own injuries. This difference may complicate the case as many accidents may be more difficult to investigate, especially if there were no witnesses and you were not present. However, an experienced wrongful death attorney may walk you through each step of the process, including how the lawyer may gather the necessary evidence to successfully prove your claim.
Your wrongful death lawsuit lawyer in Fort Collins may take the pressure of pursuing the case from you by handling the case for you. After the death of a loved one, you may already be dealing with the immediate funeral costs and any medical expenses incurred before your loved one’s death. You should contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to allow you to seek any compensation you may be entitled to through a wrongful death claim in Colorado. Your lawyer may help you gather evidence of the other party’s liability for the accident while using this evidence to successfully negotiate a satisfactory settlement from the other party’s insurance company or to win your case at trial if negotiations are unsuccessful.
GET HELP FROM A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER IN FORT COLLINS TODAY
At Zinda Law Group, our Fort Collins attorneys are here to assist you with your claim. We help our clients pursue the maximum compensation they may be entitled to after losing a loved one because of another party’s negligence or recklessness. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.