Basics of Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Colorado
The death of a loved one is never easy to cope with, but when their death could have been avoided, the pain is even deeper. Though the legal system cannot change what happened, it may help you find justice and closure.
The team at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit and receive compensation to meet the financial burden caused by losing your loved one. You have already been through a lot and taking legal action is no small feat. You may be wondering, What is a wrongful death claim? Our compassionate attorneys will answer this and related questions below.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When a loved one’s death is caused by the accidental or intentional action of another person or party, certain family members could be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Colorado, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought to recover compensation for current and future expenses associated with a loved one’s death and the emotional suffering it caused.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death action may be warranted in virtually any situation in which someone dies because of someone else’s action or inaction. Some of the most common grounds for a wrongful death claim involve fatal car accidents, dangerous property conditions, medical malpractice, or defective products.
Gather Evidence and Determine Liability
It is important to gather all potential evidence related to the death of your loved one. An experienced wrongful death attorney can conduct an independent investigation to determine what happened and who might be held liable.
Determining who might be liable is one of the most important steps in a wrongful death lawsuit. In some situations, there may be multiple liable parties, and it is important to make sure you have enough evidence to prove the liability of each party. For example, if your loved one was killed in an accident with a commercial truck, liable parties could include the truck driver, trucking company, truck parts manufacturer, or anyone else whose actions contributed to the accident.
Value Your Claim
Understanding the value of your case will help ensure that you do not accept a settlement that is less than what you are entitled to receive. If you accept a settlement that is worth less than your damages, you will have to pay your remaining expenses out of your own pocket. An attorney will help you take into account the cost of care leading up to death, financial dependency on the deceased, earning potential, and all elements of pain and suffering that you have experienced because of the loss. An experienced attorney will be able to identify and calculate all of your damages to help make sure you ask for the compensation you need.
File Your Case
When determining how to file a wrongful death lawsuit, figuring out your filing deadlines is an important step. The Colorado statute of limitations requires that a wrongful death claim be filed within two years of the date of death. Your attorney can help you determine which jurisdiction is most appropriate for your wrongful death lawsuit and file the paperwork on your behalf. Once the initial paperwork is filed, your attorney can guide you through the litigation process and help you prepare your case for settlement negotiations or trial.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Colorado?
Each state has its own rules regarding who is permitted to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. Colorado breaks up who can file a wrongful death lawsuit by order of succession and timing.
The first year after a person dies, the right to file a lawsuit for wrongful death is reserved for the surviving spouse. During this time, the spouse has the option to elect to file the claim with surviving heirs or allow surviving heirs to file on their own.
If the deceased did not have a surviving spouse, the claim may be brought by their heirs or by a designated beneficiary. After the first year, the claim can be brought by the surviving spouse, heirs, both the surviving spouse and heirs, or the designated beneficiary.
If the deceased person was a child or has no heirs, their parents may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Type of Compensation Is Available for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The unique circumstances of your case will determine what type and how much compensation you can receive when you file a wrongful death lawsuit. There is a lot of research and work that goes into determining how much your case is worth. Some factors that affect how much compensation you can receive include the age of the decedent, how you are related to them, whether or not they had financial dependents, the circumstances of the incident, and more. Some of the potentially recoverable damages include the following:
- Funeral expenses;
- Cost of burial, cremation, or other burial expenses;
- Medical expenses related to the accident;
- Loss of future income;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of companionship; and
- Loss of consortium.
Punitive damages may also be available depending on whether the nature of the at-fault party’s action was intentional or egregious. If so, punitive damages might be imposed to punish the defendant and deter others from similar actions. Punitive damages are most commonly awarded in cases involving large companies or individuals who have a history of the type of behavior that caused the death.
Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys in Boulder
The skilled attorneys at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. have over 100 years of combined experience handling personal injury cases like wrongful death. We pride ourselves on always being mindful and considerate of your unique situation, goals, and needs. Our team is committed to working hard for you so that you can focus on helping your family move forward.
Each case is different, but we are proud to have obtained over $100 million dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation and learn more about how we can help you.
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