Overview of Wrongful Death Claims in Denver
When someone is injured due to the negligent behavior of another, they can file a lawsuit for the damages. If the victim dies in the accident, however, close relatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the culpable party. Wrongful death claims are adjudicated under the Colorado Revised Statutes.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim arises when someone is killed through the wrongful act of another. Generally, this means either negligence or intentional misconduct.
A wrongful death lawsuit is not about compensating the victim’s estate for the death of the victim; rather, it is about compensating the victim’s close relatives for the victim’s contributions to their lives, both tangible and intangible. A wrongful death claim must be brought within two years of the victim’s death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death action can be brought by:
- Spouse – if married at the time of the accident
- Child – if at least one year has elapsed since the victim’s death or the victim’s spouse is no longer alive
- Parent – if the victim left no surviving spouse or children
A sibling cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful conduct includes both negligent and intentional behavior. Typical examples include DUI car accidents, workplace accidents, and violent crimes.
To be liable for negligence, the defendant must have breached a duty of care owed to the victim, and this breach must have caused the accident that killed the victim.
In a car accident, this duty is normally conceived of as the prudence that an ordinary driver would exercise. In a medical malpractice claim, however, the healthcare provider is held to a professional standard of care.
Several main types of damages are available for a wrongful death claim:
- Pecuniary (monetary) loss
- Loss of companionship and society
- Mental anguish
- Loss of insurance proceeds
Colorado also allows exemplary damages (punitive damages) to be awarded in some cases where the defendant acted with gross negligence or willful misconduct. A DUI-related accident or a violent crime might support a claim for exemplary damages, for example. Medical malpractice claims are subject to damages caps in Colorado.
A survival action is a closely related cause of action that can be filed by the executor of the deceased victim’s estate for certain types of damages to the estate caused by the defendant’s wrongful conduct.
These damages include medical bills arising from the victim’s final illness or injury, as well as funeral and burial expenses. Of course, if the estate executor is an eligible relative in his own right, he may file a wrongful death claim in his own name, subject to the foregoing eligibility restrictions.
Call Zinda Law Group Now to Learn About Your Legal Rights
If you are a relative of a victim that is deceased due to another party’s culpable behavior, it is important that you retain the services of a skilled wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after the accident. Zinda Law Group is a top-notch Denver personal injury law firm that has handled numerous wrongful death cases.
Our Denver wrongful death lawyers will put their experience and skills to work to obtain the best possible settlement or court judgment for you. Call 303-800-1501 to get a free consultation with us to explore your options.