Losing a loved one can be devastating, especially if it comes at an unexpected time, or the rest of the family depended on this family members income.
Families and close relatives of individuals who were killed due to the negligent actions of others may be able to bring a civil action against the parties responsible for the death in what is called a wrongful death case. Even when an individual is not found criminally responsible for the death of an individual, they can be held civilly liable for their death by way of a wrongful death claim.
These types of personal injury claims are actually fairly common in the event that a company is responsible for the death of a loved one. For example, if a construction worker was killed on the job due to an oversight by their employer, then the family members may be able to bring a wrongful death civil action against the company.
Money certainly won't make up for the loss of the person that you loved, but it will help ease the financial strain, and get some sort of compensation for pain, suffering, and lost income.
At Anderson Hemmat, we have over 40+ years of working with families in order to get the compensation you deserve in their Colorado Wrongful Death Claims.
What Am I Entitled to if I Have a Wrongful Death Case?
Some individuals and companies may be protected from having wrongful death lawsuits filed against them. More often than not, the way this protection works is by means of a waiver. For example, an employer may have all employees sign a waiver promising not to take civil action against them for injury or death while at work.
This is a strong defense against civil lawsuits for wrongful death, but not absolute. In these cases, there may still be potential for you and your family to take civil action. Even if your loved one signed such a document, you should still consider a wrongful death claim as a viable option.
Whether you have a claim or not depends on whether there is legal protection available for the offending party, and if there is negligence on their behalf that can be proven to have led to the wrongful death of your loved one. The best way to find out whether you have a wrongful death claim is by consulting with an experienced Colorado Wrongful Death Attorney as soon as possible.
If a wrongful death claim is possible, you may be qualified for compensation to recover:
- Finances for the cost of the funeral
- Loss of income
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
- Damage of property
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
It is important to consult with an attorney for your wrongful death claim as soon as possible to find out if you have a viable claim, and begin building a strong case for compensation. Acting quickly is the best way to ensure that you build a good case and are able to get all of the proper documents in time to make the deadline for claims.
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Colorado's Wrongful Death Act - Everything You Should Know
Wrongful death cases are dictated by Colorado's wrongful death act, which can be found in § 13-21-201 and 202. The law states that if death is the result of the negligent or careless actions of another, the heir of the descendant can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent or criminally negligent party.
Only one wrongful death action is permitted for each wrongful death case, which means that a widow and a descendant's son cannot each file separate wrongful death actions. The law allows for spouses, parents, adopted children, siblings, dependent children and some others to act as plaintiffs in these types of cases.
For the most part, wrongful death claims are handled the same as personal injury cases, except that the plaintiff is the family member representing the deceased.
Do I Have a Wrongful Death Case?
If a member of your family passes away due to negligent actions of another person, it is referred to as a wrongful death. If a member of your family passed away in a car accident, for example, when slippery road conditions caused them to veer off the highway and into a nearby structure, this is tragic but not necessarily the fault of someone else being negligent.
By comparison, if a member of your family passed away in a car accident because another driver was intoxicated or speeding and ran them off the road, that other driver could be held responsible for wrongful death.
Proving negligence in these cases is the basis for seeking all compensation. This process can take an extremely skilled attorney, lots of evidence, and patience combined with a knowledge of the legal system.
Each case is entirely different, as are the circumstances, and the possible compensation for your losses. As a result, we always recommend speaking with a professional in order to get a better understanding of where you stand, if you have a case, what to do next, and what you may be entitled to.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado?
In the state of Colorado, a surviving spouse of the deceased is the only person who can file a wrongful death claim for the first year following the death.
During the second year following the death, the surviving spouse and any surviving children are allowed to file a claim.
If the deceased has no surviving spouse or children, their parents can file a wrongful death claim in Colorado.
If the deceased had a will or someone representative of their estate, that individual could file a claim to recover damages under what is called "survival action".
Keep in mind that the Statute of Limitations for a wrongful death claim in the State of Colorado is 3 years. If you do not file within this time, you are no longer entitled to compensation, and cannot take the case to court in order to fight for what you deserve.
Also keep in mind that only one party can file a wrongful death claim. This makes it very important to see an attorney and speak with all the remaining heirs of the deceased prior to taking action, in order to maximize compensation.
What Compensation or Damages Can Be Awarded For a Wrongful Death Case?
When a loved one dies, it has a significant emotional toll on every family member, but it can also result in extreme financial burdens in many cases. In Colorado, wrongful death laws are designed to ease the financial burden when an individual is responsible for causing the wrongful death of another person.
In the State of Colorado, the monetary damages for a wrongful death case are determined by the judge or the jury if the case goes to trial. The specific amount awarded is contingent upon the case, but in general those who file for a wrongful death lawsuit typically get damages for the following:
- Wages and compensation the deceased would have earned for the family had they been alive
- Benefits lost as a result of the unexpected death such as lost life insurance benefits
- Compensation for loss of love, companionship, assistance, protection, comfort, affection, and care of the deceased and care of the deceased
Additionally, the estate of the deceased can speak for damages suffered by the estate including the following:
- Funeral and burial expense
- Medical, hospital, or emergency care expenses related to the injury or illness that caused the deceased to pass away
In certain cases you can also seek punitive damages which are not based on actual losses but instead are designed to punish the wrongdoer for their negligent behavior.
How Long Do I Have to File a Colorado Wrongful Death Case?
In Colorado, you have to file a wrongful death claim within two years of the date of death. This two-year deadline is referred to as the Statute of Limitations. As mentioned, during the first year, the spouse can file and only between the first year in the second year can surviving children file if the spouse did not. If the deceased has no spouse and no children, the parents can submit a claim at any time within the first two years of death.
This can become a bit confusing, and small mistakes in this process can easily result in the denial of your claim, or a drastic reduction in the compensation you can receive.
How Long Will it Take To Settle My Colorado Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
On average, Colorado wrongful death lawsuits can take anywhere between 2 to 4 years. It's really contingent upon when the lawsuit is filed, and how quickly the liable party decides to settle.
If the surviving spouse or parents, for example, file a lawsuit immediately after the victim has passed away, it might settle in a matter of months. But if the responsible party tries to fight the case, it could last a few years. Working with an expert wrongful-death attorney can help to resolve your case sooner rather than later so that you can get the closure you deserve and start moving forward.
Our Denver Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Handle a Wide Variety of Cases
Even if the deceased was partially at fault for the accident that caused their death, the surviving family members may attempt to recover compensation so long as their percentage of negligence was less than the combined percentage of negligence of the defendants (§ 10.3.1). Liability issues can sometimes be complex in these cases.
You may have questions like:
- Can the family of a descendant who was killed in a drunk driving accident rightfully file a claim against the driver if the descendant knew the driver was drunk and chose to get in the car anyway?
- Can a hospital or care taking facility be held responsible for a patient's suicide?
These and other complex legal issues are best handled by a skilled Denver personal injury lawyer.
We have successfully worked in many different cases like these, and are sure that we can help with yours too. Each individual case is different, and the best way to find out if you have a wrongful death case which can be successfully pursued is to call us.
The Colorado personal injury team at Anderson Hemmat have a history of success in hundreds of wrongful death cases. We understand that this is a difficult time, and will handle your case with the utmost care and compassion. We want to make this process as easy and stress-free as possible, so you have time to grieve and handle all of the necessary affairs while still getting the compensation you deserve.
Holding the Negligent Liable: Anderson Hemmat
If your loved one was taken before their time due to the negligence of another party, you should take the next steps and speak with a Colorado Wrongful Death Attorney in order to learn more about what compensation you may be entitled to, and in order to remediate the financial hardships your family has experienced as a result.
If someone was responsible for this unfortunate loss in your family, they should be held responsible and made to pay for the resulting expenses that have caused hardship for the family of the deceased. You and your family have suffered enough with the loss of your loved one, you shouldn't be made to suffer further with financial strain and adversity.
At Anderson Hemmat, we are not only a personal injury law firm with over 40+ years of experience, but a firm that provides compassionate representation for our clients. We will handle things as sensitively as possible, understanding that you are going through a difficult time of grief.
In order to learn more about your case, what you are entitled to, and what the next steps are, contactone of our Denver wrongful death attorneys today at our office today for your free wrongful death case evaluation. We are ready to help you through this unfortunate situation by handling your claim and working towards justice.