What am I entitled to if my spouse or child was killed in an 18-wheeler wreck in Colorado?
Written By: Attorney Cassandra Pillonel
CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK TO A COLORADO WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER TODAY
Wrongful Death actions are not only legally complicated but also emotionally challenging. After losing a spouse or child in an 18-wheeler wreck, the right lawyer can help you and your family navigate this difficult time and seek fair compensation for your loss of a loved one.
If you have lost a child and would like to speak to an attorney about the best course of action moving forward, contact us today at (800) 863-5312 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys.
Wrongful Death Claims in Colorado
Under the Colorado Wrongful Death Act (C.R.S. §§ 13-21-201 to 13-21-204), certain surviving family members are permitted to bring a Wrongful Death claim when their loved ones are killed due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts of another person. The purpose of Wrongful Death actions is to compensate family members for what they have lost due to the death of their loved one.
CAN I FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM ON BEHALF OF MY DECEASED SPOUSE?
Colorado permits surviving spouses to file Wrongful Death actions for the loss of their deceased spouse. This means that in the case of a spouse killed in an 18-wheeler wreck, you would be able to file a claim.
Colorado law even favors surviving spouses of a decedent by establishing surviving spouses as the sole individuals who can file a Wrongful Death claim within the first year of their spouse’s death.
All other applicable individuals, such as the decedent’s children or a designated beneficiary, are not permitted to file a lawsuit within the first year of the decedent’s death. In this case, the surviving spouse has the option of filing his or her lawsuit separately or in combination with the others.
CAN I FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM ON BEHALF OF MY DECEASED CHILD?
Although Colorado permits surviving parents of a deceased child to bring Wrongful Death claims, this authorization is extremely limited. If your child had any children, or was married at the time of death and has a surviving spouse, you are not entitled to file a Wrongful Death claim on their behalf, even if your child’s surviving spouse or child declines to do so.
Accordingly, the only circumstance under which you can file a Wrongful Death claim on behalf of your deceased child after they were lost in an 18-wheeler wreck is if your child passes away without a surviving spouse, surviving children, or designated beneficiary.
Learn More: How To File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado
WHEN CAN I FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM ON BEHALF OF MY DECEASED FAMILY MEMBER?
In Colorado, you must file a Wrongful Death claim within two years of the death of the decedentThere is a narrow set of exceptions to this rule, but in most cases, if you attempt to file your claim later than two years after death, it will be barred by the statute of limitations.
To understand the specific exceptions that would permit a claim to be brought outside of this two-year period, schedule a free consultation with a Zinda Law Group attorney.
WHAT KIND OF DAMAGES AM I ENTITLED TO?
If you have lost a spouse or child in an 18-wheeler crash, Colorado Wrongful Death law permits a claimant to recover several types of damages. These include economic damages, noneconomic damages, and in some cases, punitive damages.
Economic damages include wages and other compensation that the deceased would likely have earned if he or she had lived, as well as benefits lost as a result of the death, such as life insurance or retirement benefits.
Learn More: Types of Economic Damages
Noneconomic damages attempt to compensate a loved one for the grief and emotional pain they suffer due to the loss of their deceased family member. Typically, this comes in the form of love, companionship, care, and comfort the surviving family member would have received from their deceased love one. Noneconomic damages can also include loss of guidance, advice, nurturing, assistance, affection, and protection from the deceased person.
Learn More: Types of Non-Economic Damages
Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are damages granted for the purpose of punishing the defendant for egregious conduct. In addition to punishment, punitive damages are used to reform the defendant’s behavior and to deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct.
Each type of damages presents its own complications and an attorney at Zinda Law Group can help you learn more about the specific damages to which you are entitled.
ARE THERE LIMITS ON THE COMPENSATION I CAN RECEIVE?
Colorado law does not limit the amount of economic damages to which a claimant is entitled. However, Colorado limits the amount of noneconomic damages a claimant can receive by implementing statutory caps on these awards.
In most trucking cases, the cap for noneconomic damages in Colorado is $250,000.00 per suit. This means that regardless of the number of defendants, the cap for noneconomic damages limits recovery for the entire case and cannot be stacked against multiple defendants. This amount is adjusted for inflation and currently exceeds $400,000.00.
Due to Colorado legislation passed in 2019 (Senate Bill 19-109), Wrongful Death actions filed on or after January 1, 2020, will benefit from increased noneconomic damages caps, likely in excess of $500,000.00.
Zinda Law Group attorneys will be able to give you more information about what these caps mean for you case.
Further, there are additional factors that may limit a claimant’s Wrongful Death Award. One factor is comparative negligence. This means that, in Colorado, if the deceased was at least 50 percent at-fault for his or her death, then the decedent’s family will not have a successful Wrongful Death claim. Alternatively, the family of a decedent can recover on a Wrongful Death claim if the decedent was less than 50 percent at fault for his or her death. However, the amount the family can recover will be reduced by the percentage of fault a jury attributes to the decedent.
Age, earning potential, and the profession, if applicable, of your deceased child or spouse will all be factors in the amount of the award.
How Zinda Law Group Handles Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The attorneys at Zinda Law Group know how foreign and frustrating the legal process can be for those unfamiliar with it. Fortunately, we are here to help. If you have lost a loved one due to the actions of another, we are happy to schedule a free consultation with you and your family regarding your loss and potential Wrongful Death case.
Zinda Law Group attorneys will meet with you and determine whether you have a legal claim for the loss of deceased child or spouse. Once we get to work on your case, we will dispatch our Trucking Rapid Response Team to ensure that all relevant evidence is discovered and preserved in your case. We will develop a strategy to be successful in your individual case, and keep you informed throughout every stage.
Our attorneys are well versed in the legal and practical complexities that these types of cases present, and aggressively pursue the insurance company to seek maximum compensation for our clients.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.