Denver Wrongful Death Attorney
Coming to terms with the death of a loved one is difficult. In the aftermath of an individual’s passing, natural feelings of grief and sadness are likely to surface in family members, friends, and acquaintances who continue to live on, especially if the loss is significant. Nevertheless, these feelings are immensely magnified when those who are left behind realize that the deceased’s passing could have been prevented. In the event that a person is killed as a result of the misconduct or negligence displayed by another party or organization, their passing is deemed a “wrongful death.” If believe your loved one has passed away due to another persons negligence, contact a Denver wrongful death attorney today and start building a case to receive compensation for your loses.
Colorado Wrongful Death Resources:
- What is wrongful death?
- Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
- What types of accidents often lead to common death?
- How do you prove negligence in a wrongful death claim?
- What damages can I recover in a wrongful death suit?
- What are solatium claims in Colorado?
- What are the statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit in Colorado?
- When should I contact a Denver wrongful death lawyer?
Fundamentals of Wrongful Death Claims
At its heart, a wrongful death claim could rightly be characterized as a type of personal injury claim in which the victim is no longer present to seek compensation on their own behalf, therefore making it necessary for a close relative or the deceased party’s estate to do so. The essential showing in a wrongful death action is that the defendant did, in fact, cause the death of the decedent due to negligent acts, omissions or intentional conduct. It should be noted that the right of relatives and others to file lawsuits under such circumstances does not stem from a distinct tort committed against them by the defendant, but rather is entirely derivative of the harm suffered by the deceased victim.
As a result, the right to file suit is based upon the rights the deceased individual would have had against the defendant if he or she had survived the injury event itself. A consequence of this is that any defenses a defendant might have raised against the decedent can also be utilized in the wrongful death case. This includes raising arguments related to the comparative negligence of the victim with regard to what occurred, which could potentially reduce the amount of compensation available by a degree equal to the proportion of fault borne by the victim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Colorado?
Colorado statute specifically delineates the parties eligible to file a wrongful death suit. Among them are the spouse of the decedent, lineal descendants, a designated beneficiary and, in some cases, the surviving parents of decedents who are unmarried and without children of their own. The timing of a wrongful death claim is dependent on the particular relationship the plaintiff had with the deceased party.
In the first year following the death at issue, only the decedent’s spouse is permitted to file a wrongful death claim, unless one of three available exceptions is triggered. A spouse has the option to include, in writing, the decedent’s lineal heirs as plaintiffs. If the deceased party was unmarried, the heirs or a designated beneficiary can file suit during this period. If no such individuals exist, the deceased’s parents choose to file.
During the second year after the wrongful death event, spouses, heirs or designated beneficiaries are all permitted to file suit, separately or together. Should the heirs decide to sue in the second year, spouses and beneficiaries are afforded a right to join their action, provided they do so within ninety days of the suit’s filing.
Scenarios Commonly Leading to Wrongful Death Claims
There can be no doubt about the fact that wrongful death claims can originate in an incredibly broad array of fact patterns and scenarios. Common circumstances leading to legal actions of this type include:
- automobile accidents
- commercial vehicle crashes
- pedestrian collisions
- sports-related accidents
- medical malpractice
- work site accidents
- industrial mishaps
- dangerous drugs and devices
- defective consumer products
- dangerous premises
In all cases, it is necessary to establish that the death at issue is directly linked to the negligent acts, omissions or conduct of the defendant, a process which can involve massive amounts of evidence including eyewitness testimony, expert analysis and the like.
Proving Liability and Causation
As every wrongful death claim hinges on successful establishment of the defendant’s liability as well as causation of the death in question, plaintiffs often need to secure the help of a range of experts who can credibly and convincingly make the needed showings. Liability experts may include accident reconstruction professionals, physicists or engineers who can attest, for instance, how an automobile crash occurred and how the defendant was to blame. Similarly, causation experts such as doctors, pathologists or coroners may be required to establish precisely how the decedent lost his or her life, ruling out alternative, preexisting explanations for the death.
As is the case with personal injury actions of all descriptions, the success of a wrongful death claim relies heavily on the accurate quantification of losses suffered by those impacted by the events in question. The elements involved in calculations of this type are varied, and it is essential for plaintiffs to enlist the aid of a series of subject matter experts who can explain to a jury the true value of what has been taken away from those left behind. While the services of such experts can be costly to obtain, their insights are critical to making a persuasive showing of the degree of loss resulting from a defendant’s actions.
Physicians, psychologists, economic loss analysts, vocational experts, accountants and others will be vital to assessing the damages sustained by surviving loved ones. These individuals will examine numerous factors including lost future income, lost future advancement opportunities, forfeited financial savings, lost health insurance and other benefits and more. It should be noted that it is not only the contributions of family breadwinners which may be compensated through a wrongful death action. The value of services rendered to a family by a deceased homemaker can also be recovered in actions of this nature, encompassing things such as cooking, cleaning, home maintenance, emotional support and care.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Settlement?
No amount of money can replace the loss of a loved one. Wrongful death claim settlements don’t aim to “make up for” a tragic death. Rather, the goal is to make sure surviving family members have the means to pay for related expenses and losses during a difficult time. A wrongful death settlement can provide financial stability and a bit of peace of mind while your family mourns an unexpected loss. Your Colorado wrongful death settlement could recompense the following damages:
- Medical bills leading up to death. If your loved one went to the hospital and received care prior to passing away from his or her injuries, your family could recover these costs – either on your own or on behalf of the decedent’s estate. These losses may include ambulance and emergency room services, intensive care, and hospital stays.
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish. The estate may be eligible for pain and suffering damages on behalf of the deceased person, if he or she did not pass away immediately from the injuries. The family may also be able to seek mental anguish damages, from the turmoil they had to endure because of the fatal accident and unexpected death.While it is necessary for proof of this type of suffering to be submitted in order to receive this type of monetary recovery, it is possible for claimants to receive up to $436,070 as compensation for emotional trauma resulting from the death. However, this cap does not apply in situations where the death at issue was determined to be the result of a felonious killing.
- Funeral, burial, and legal costs. The average funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000. Your family can list these expenses on your wrongful death claim. You can also list the costs of legal fees, court costs, and the price of hiring an attorney.
- Lost inheritance. A life cut short can cost thousands of dollars of what should have gone toward the household, beneficiaries, and descendants. Surviving family members can pursue these damages, including the loss of the loved one’s future potential earnings. This amount will depend on the age and occupation of the individual.
- Loss of consortium. Loss of consortium refers to the loss of relationship-related benefits, such as love, care, companionship, affection, guidance, and household duties. Surviving spouses and children may seek loss of consortium damages, as may anyone else who had been dependent on the decedent.
Wrongful death settlements are extremely difficult to estimate, as there is no real “average” value of a person’s life. Settlement awards for surviving family members after fatal accidents throughout history have ranged from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of millions. The only real way to find out how much your wrongful death settlement might be worth is through a case evaluation with a Denver wrongful death attorney.
Solatium Claims in Colorado
Clearly, making a strong showing in court of the grief and loss suffered following a wrongful death event is a difficult, wrenching and arduous experience. Further, it may be a virtual impossibility for direct survivors whose relationship with the deceased party was strained or perhaps even limited in nature. To address such situations, Colorado law provides a decedent’s heirs the choice of opting out of having to prove emotional anguish by filing what is known as a solatium claim. In exchange for recovery capped at $87,210 for cases in which fault is established, claimants bear no responsibility for proving a particular level of grief.
Statute of Limitations in a Wrongful Death Case
As stated earlier, Colorado law does impose fairly strict time limitations within which a wrongful death claim must be filed or forfeited forever. In addition, the sooner action is taken following a death due to negligence, the better the chances a plaintiff has of preserving key evidence. Police records, documentary evidence, witness statements and other proof should be obtained as quickly as possible in order to bolster a claimant’s case. For these reasons, individuals who have lost loved ones and wish to pursue compensation for losses sustained are urged to make contact with a Denver wrongful death attorney as soon as possible following the events in question.
Contact a Denver Wrongful Death Attorney
At the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal, our personal injury attorneys appreciate the vast range of circumstances capable of forming the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit and pledge to leave nothing to chance when representing the interests of those left behind. This holds true regardless of the underlying facts of your claim, which may include events as factually diverse as:
- automobile or trucking accidents caused by negligent driving, equipment failure or improperly maintained roads
- public transportation accidents involving airlines, railways or watercraft
- dangerously designed, manufactured and/or marketed consumer products
- medical negligence including misdiagnosis, surgical error or improper administration of drugs
- premises liability events resulting from dangerously maintained public areas, icy walkways, hazardous building conditions
- construction site mishaps including heavy equipment malfunctions, improper engineering and supervisory negligence
- criminal actions on the part of another
- failure of a responsible entity to properly supervise an activity in which the decedent was engaged
- Construction site accident
Few scenarios are more personally catastrophic than losing a close family member in a grossly unfair, unanticipated manner. Jeremy Rosenthal understands the immediate strain, confusion and potentially permanent harm such circumstances can create and stands ready to swiftly enter the fray in the quest for what is right. Due to a commitment to the proposition that a lack of financial resources should never serve as a bar to the pursuit of justice, he is proud to accept cases on a contingency basis. This simply means that victims of negligence who are represented by the firm owe no legal fees unless or until monetary recovery is secured in their matter.
At the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal, an experienced Denver wrongful death attorney understands that the shock, disbelief and emotional paralysis that can follow on the heels of a sudden loss can prevent survivors from taking important legal action. However, by allowing us to shoulder the burden on your behalf and commence the battle for fairness, accountability and full compensation, the gradual process of healing can begin that much sooner. To schedule a no-cost initial consultation to explore your options and discuss the facts of your case, we invite you to contact us at (303) 825-2223.