Helping Surviving Family Members Obtain Justice
Wrongful death claims are a relatively new addition to the American legal system. Historically, surviving family members were unable to bring a legal action to recover for the losses they sustained due to the wrongful death of a loved one.
This led to the somewhat anomalous result that a person who has seriously injured but lived would be able to recover significant compensation for his or her economic or non-economic losses from the at-fault party, but no one could recover should the victim pass away due to his or her injuries.
In order to rectify this situation, states have passed wrongful death statutes creating a cause of action (a legal basis for a lawsuit) that allows certain family members of people who have been wrongfully killed to recover compensation for their losses. Because it is created by statute, wrongful death law differs in many important respects from personal injury law, so individuals who believe that they may have a claim are best served by retaining an attorney familiar with representing wrongful death plaintiffs.
Our attorneys are available to discuss your case at no cost to you and you will not incur any legal fees unless we successfully recover compensation on your behalf.
What Kinds of Incidents can Lead to a Wrongful Death Claim?
Legal actions based on wrongful death can arise from a wide variety of incidents. Some of the most common include the following:
- Car accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Medical malpractice
- ATV accidents
- Recreational accidents
- Sports accidents
- Violent assaults
- Bicycle accidents
- Pool and hot tub accidents
- Medication errors
- Workplace accidents
- Construction accidents
- Industrial accidents
- Consumer product accidents
Importantly, in order to be able to recover, surviving family members of victims must be able to establish that the incident that resulted in their loved one’s death was caused by someone’s negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct. In many cases, doing so may require the collection, analysis, and presentation of a significant amount of evidence, so it is important for anyone who believes that they may have a valid wrongful death claim to speak with an attorney immediately.
The kinds of evidence that may tend to establish legal liability in a Colorado wrongful death case include eyewitness statements, surveillance footage, cell phone records, vehicle computer data, vehicle maintenance records, internal business documents, expert witness testimony, medical records.
In some cases, parties with an interest in the outcome of a wrongful death case may be reluctant to produce evidence necessary to the plaintiff’s case and may even be tempted to destroy it, so it is critical for surviving family members to retain legal counsel as soon as possible.
Who can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Colorado law is particularly restrictive about who can file a wrongful death claim and has time limits that are specific to how a particular plaintiff is related to the decedent. The only parties that may potentially bring a claim for wrongful death are a surviving spouse, the children or designated beneficiaries of the decedent, or the decedent’s parents.
Notably, Colorado law differs from many other states in that it limits the parties that can recover to lineal descendants, excluding other descendants such as nieces, nephews, siblings, or others.
The law allows different parties to sue based on the amount of time that has elapsed since the decedent passed away.
- During the first year, only a surviving spouse may file a wrongful death claim, with three exceptions – (1) the spouse may file an election including the decedent’s children as plaintiffs; (2) if the person who has died is unmarried, his or her children may file a claim; (3) if the decedent is unmarried and has no children, his or her parents may file a wrongful death claim.
- During the second year, spouses and designated beneficiaries may file a claim. If the spouse has already filed a claim, he or she may join any claim filed during the second year by heirs or beneficiaries.
What Types of Damages are Available under Colorado’s Wrongful Death Statute?
The determination of damages in a Colorado wrongful death claim can be extremely complicated and are assessed by the jury or the judge in a bench trial. Wrongful death plaintiffs can be entitled to the following types of damages:
Economic Damages – Plaintiffs may recover compensation for the economic loss they have sustained as a result of their family member’s wrongful death. These kinds of damages can include the loss of financial support and often require complex calculations regarding a person’s life expectancy and the amount of money they would have earned had it not been for the accident or act at issue.
Non-Economic Damages – Colorado law also allows plaintiffs in a wrongful death case to recover for the non-economic losses associated with the loss of companionship and emotional support that the decedent would have been able to provide, as well as the pain and suffering experienced by the plaintiffs.
Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are available in cases in which the conduct of the defendant is established to have been particularly egregious.
Call McCormick & Murphy P.C. Today to Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Colorado Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or otherwise wrongful conduct of another person or party, you may be able to recover significant compensation. While no amount of money can bring your loved one back, a civil lawsuit can help family members feel that there are consequences imposed on the person or party responsible for the death of their loved one.
The Colorado wrongful death lawyers of McCormick & Murphy, P.C. have been representing the rights of people who have been injured by the negligence of others since 1995 and are committed to securing the best possible result in each case we take. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at 888-668-1182 or send us an email through our online contact form.
Disclaimer: Information provided on this site is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always get a formal case evaluation from a licensed attorney if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.