What Is The Wrongful Death Statute Of Limitations In Colorado?
When a person dies, their family will go through the grieving process as they focus on moving on with their life and paying off any final costs, including any medical bills and funeral expenses. It becomes more difficult when the death is caused by the wrongful actions of another person.
Although no amount of compensation will make losing a loved one feel easier, it can bring justice and help with financial obligations. So, it’s important to understand what the wrongful death statute of limitations is in Colorado so you can make sure you claim is filed in time.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
If you live in Colorado and plan on filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you may be wondering, What is the statute of limitations on wrongful death? The statute of limitations provides plaintiffs with a specific amount of time to file a legal claim against a person or entity.
The Colorado wrongful death statute of limitations gives eligible heirs two years to bring a cause of action for wrongful death. The time limit starts running from the date of death.
However, even though you have two years to file the claim, it’s important to file it as soon as you can. Contacting a lawyer to help you through the process to stay on the right track when making your claim can help you deal with the loss of a loved one. There are some exceptions to the two-year wrongful death statute of limitations in Colorado.
Can the Time Limit for Wrongful Death Claims in Colorado be Extended?
In some rare cases, the two-year time limit for wrongful death statute of limitations can be extended. Colorado law provides an extended statute of limitations if the wrongful death was the result of an auto accident. In that case, the wrongful death statute of limitations can be extended to three years.
The allotted time may also be extended if the defendant engages in fraud or attempts to hide relevant evidence and make it undiscoverable. Extensions may also apply if the decedent was under the age of 18. Contacting a Colorado attorney as soon as possible will give you time to understand your options and help you decide how best to move forward.
Who Can Bring a Claim Under the Wrongful Death Statute?
There is a select group of people who are eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Colorado based on their relationship with the decedent. A person’s relationship with the decedent will also determine when they can file their claim.
The first year after a person dies is reserved for the surviving spouse to file a lawsuit. The surviving spouse has the option to file the claim in conjunction with surviving heirs, or they can defer the right to file during this time to the surviving heirs. If the decedent does not have a surviving spouse, then the right to file automatically goes to the heirs or a designated beneficiary.
Once the first year has passed, the claim can be brought by any of the aforementioned parties. Parents may file at any time when the deceased is a child or has no heirs. No matter which parties choose to pursue a claim, the statute of limitations for wrongful death will usually start running at the date of death.
Causes Of Wrongful Death
There are a number of ways that wrongful death can occur. Anytime the negligent or intentional act of another party results in death, it might be possible to file a wrongful death claim. These are a few situations in which a wrongful death claim might be available:
- Medical malpractice,
- Workplace accidents,
- Defective drugs,
- Boating and water accidents,
- Accidental drownings,
- Motor vehicle accidents (including public transportation),
- Pedestrian or bicycle accidents, and
- Product malfunctions or defects.
If your case does not seem to fit into one of these categories, that does not mean you are unable to file a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death can occur in a variety of situations. As long as your loved one’s death was caused wholly or partially by someone else’s negligent action or inaction, you might be able to bring a wrongful death claim. An attorney can help you determine if you are owed compensation for wrongful death.
Types of Wrongful Death Damages
What types of damages are claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit? While the cost of losing a loved one can never be truly compensated for, the following are claims that are made.
Financial Damages: This includes burial and funeral expenses, medical expenses, and any other final expenses that need to be covered due to the death.
Lost Wages: Both loss of present and future wages because of your loved one passing away. Spouses, children, or even parents of the deceased can sue for this compensation.
Emotion Turmoil: If you have emotional distress because of the loved one’s death, PTSD, anxiety, stress, etc or if you have a loss of companionship these can all be considered when it comes to compensation.
Be the Clock on the Colorado Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations – Contact an Attorney
The attorneys at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. have over 100 years of combined experience helping families seek justice for the wrongful death of a loved one. We understand the intricacies of the Colorado legal system and are committed to helping you fight for the compensation you deserve.
When you are in the midst of grieving, the last thing you want to think about is pursuing legal action. But because of the two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death, the sooner you can secure legal counsel, the better. Over time, evidence may be harder to obtain and witnesses more difficult to find. We are here to make the process as easy for you as possible.
If you have a loved one that passed away because of the recklessness of someone else, contact a lawyer today.
For a free consultation or for more information on wrongful death claims contact Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover at 303-447-1144.
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