Boulder Wrongful Death Lawyers
CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH A BOULDER WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEY
The unexpected passing of a family member is a tragic event. Surviving friends and family members must overcome unthinkable emotional turmoil. Family members must also deal with the financial consequences of the loss of a loved one. Wrongful death actions may provide an avenue for the surviving family members of a recently deceased individual to recover compensation on behalf of the deceased.
If you have recently experienced the passing of a loved one and would like to learn more about wrongful death claims, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Boulder attorneys.
WRONGFUL DEATH DEFINED
A wrongful death action is a civil lawsuit brought by the representative of a deceased individual against another person or entity who may be held liable for the death. A wrongful death action may be brought when a person dies due to the fault of another. If successful, a wrongful death lawsuit may provide financial compensation in the form of money damages to the party who brought the lawsuit.
WRONGFUL DEATH EXAMPLES
There are many possible grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Car accidents, product liability cases, and workplace accidents are just a few examples. Listed below are several other examples of some of the most common causes of wrongful death.
Car accidents and motorcycle accidents are among the most common causes of wrongful death claims. These cases typically involve one party acting negligently or recklessly. For example, if a driver was texting and driving prior to crashing his vehicle, the driver may be liable for the wrongful death of the victim. Similarly, drunk drivers or drivers going over the speed limit may also be held responsible for wrongful death.
Single-vehicle car accidents can also provide grounds for a wrongful death action. For example, if a vehicle’s faulty steering wheel leads to a fatal crash, the manufacturer or seller of the defective car part may be held liable for wrongful death.
A death that occurs while at the workplace may also provide grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Common examples of workplace-related accidents that can result in death include:
- Illness from a hazardous work environment
- Machine-related accidents
Potentially liable parties may include the employer, the manager or supervisor on duty, or the manufacturer of defective equipment.
Doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and other hospital staffers have a duty to provide patients with safe and comprehensive care. Failure to adhere to this duty may be sufficient grounds for a wrongful death claim.
Examples of medical malpractice in the context of wrongful death include:
- Prescriptions errors
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Surgical error
- Medical equipment malfunction
Potentially liable parties may include the medical professional, the hospital or clinic where the patient was treated, or the manufacturer of the defective medical equipment.
Manufacturers, designers, sellers, and distributors of consumer products have a duty to provide customers with a safe product. Faulty design, defective manufacturing process, or failure to warn of possible injuries or death may subject these parties to liability for wrongful death.
Wrongful death aviation accidents typically involve airplane or helicopter crashes. Parties that may be held liable for wrongful death following an aviation accident include the airline company, the manufacturer of the airplane or helicopter equipment, or the pilot.
HOW TO FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM
Have Standing to File a Claim
Only certain people may file a wrongful death action. To file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must first be authorized to do so by your state’s wrongful death statute.
Colorado’s wrongful death statute gives the surviving spouse the exclusive right to bring a wrongful death action during the first year after the death. During the second year after death, the heirs of the deceased, meaning the children of the person who was killed, can also initiate a wrongful death action or can join an action brought by the surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse or there are no children, then the parents of the person who was killed can bring a wrongful death action. If there is no surviving spouse, no children, or no parents, the brothers and sisters of the deceased are not allowed to bring a wrongful death action.
Contact an Attorney
The personal representative wishing to bring a wrongful death claim should consult with a Boulder wrongful death attorney before taking any formal action. A wrongful death attorney may wish to speak with the personal representative in person or over the phone to discuss the facts of the case. After doing so, the attorney may be able to provide legal advice regarding options moving forward.
After the initial consultation, the wrongful death attorney may investigate the case to build the strength and viability of the claim. For instance, the attorney may interview people with knowledge of the matter, review medical records, and track down other important evidence.
Settlement and Lawsuit
After gathering as much information as possible, the wrongful death attorney may contact the personal representative to review the several ways in which the case could be handled. If the case is strong enough, you may file a lawsuit. If a settlement offer is made by the at-fault party or the at-fault party’s insurance company, the attorney may act on your behalf by negotiating a settlement structured to protect your legal rights.
Damages may be awarded in a wrongful death claim if it can be established that another person or entity was at fault for the decedent’s death. Damages that are typically available in a Colorado wrongful death claim include:
Economic damages reflect the value of the financial contributions the decedent would have made to his or her surviving family members had it not been for his or her death. Economic damages may include:
- Medical expenses related to the death
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of expected earnings
- Loss of benefits (e.g., pension plans and/or medical coverage)
- Loss of inheritance
- The value of goods and services that the decedent would have provided
Under Colorado law, economic damages generally are not subject to a statutory maximum. However, the amount of recoverable economic damages is limited by the amount of support the decedent would have provided to the plaintiff had the decedent survived. Furthermore, the amount of economic damages may be limited in cases where the decedent was not survived by a spouse, minor children, or dependent parents.
Non-economic damages are more subjective than economic damages. Non-economic damages are subjectively evaluated by the jury. Types of non-economic damages may include:
- Damage for the survivors’ mental anguish or pain and suffering
- Loss of care and protection from the deceased
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
Unlike economic damages, the total amount of non-economic damages recoverable by all plaintiffs for the death of a single decedent is subject to a statutory cap, which, adjusted for inflation, is currently $436,070. There are some exceptions for intentional killings.
Punitive damages are a type of damages awarded to punish the wrongdoer. Punitive damages are fairly uncommon and are only awarded in cases where the actions of the defendant were particularly reckless or intentional. Consider consulting with a wrongful death attorney to learn more about the availability of punitive damages as it pertains to your case.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
States set a time limit, called a “statute of limitations,” within which a person bringing a wrongful death claim must act. In other words, a wrongful death claim must be filed within a certain time frame before the claim is effectively barred from being litigated in court.
In general, Colorado has a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death cases. Some types of cases may have a one-year statute of limitations. Certain events may also pause, or “toll,” the statute of limitations.
Because the statute of limitations is a critical factor in wrongful death cases, it is always a wise decision to seek the advice of an experienced wrongful death attorney, especially if you think the statute of limitations is nearing. An attorney may provide you with legal advice regarding the status and viability of your claim.
LET ZINDA LAW GROUP FIGHT FOR YOU
Navigating and handling a wrongful death claim by yourself can be a difficult and frustrating task. Having a Zinda Law Group attorney in your corner may provide several benefits. At Zinda Law Group, our Boulder attorneys have plenty of experience handling and litigating wrongful death cases. Our team has the resources necessary to help build the strongest claim following an unexpected death.
Our firm also believes that a victim should not have to worry about being able to afford high-quality legal representation. That is why we offer free consultations, and why we work on a contingency fee basis. You pay nothing unless we win your case.
If you would like to discuss the details of your case with an experienced Boulder wrongful death lawyer, or to learn more about wrongful death claims, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free case evaluation.
Meetings with attorneys are by appointment only.