Losing a loved one is always difficult, but unexpectedly losing a loved one can be life-changing and devastating. When people die in accidents, there’s no time to prepare, and family members can be left reeling, trying to cope with their grief and the unexpected issues arising from their loved one’s passing.
In addition to mourning your loss, you may struggle to handle practical matters, such as finding childcare, planning a funeral, and covering living expenses. Suppose your loved one died a wrongful death. In that case, you can seek compensation for your expenses and the emotional toll of your loss by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
What is the meaning of wrongful death?
A wrongful death is a death caused by another person’s negligence or unlawful actions. Negligence can involve action or inaction. Suppose someone fails to take action to prevent an accident that results in someone’s death. In that case, Colorado residents may seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. A Colorado decedent’s family members or beneficiary can also pursue compensation if someone takes actions that put the safety of others at risk and those actions cause their loved one’s wrongful death.
If your spouse goes to a store with a plumbing leak and doesn’t thoroughly mop the floor or put up signs warning people the floor is wet, and your spouse slips on the wet floor, hits their head, and dies — this would be an example of wrongful death from inaction.
Suppose your loved one is on their way to the store when a distracted driver looks down at a letter they’re reading and crashes into your loved one’s car, and they die — this is an example of a wrongful death from negligent actions.
Two drivers are street racing when your spouse is on their way to the store. One driver loses control of their vehicle, strikes your spouse’s car, and your spouse dies — this would be a wrongful death from illegal actions.
What is a wrongful death settlement?
A wrongful death settlement is a monetary sum paid to the decedent’s surviving family members or beneficiary on behalf of the at-fault party. The at-fault party’s insurance company typically pays the settlement. Settlements are negotiated between the victim’s attorney and the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Wrongful death settlements include compensation for actual costs, known as economic damages. The settlements also include compensation for non-economic damages. Those who seek a judgment in court may also seek punitive damages. Punitive damages apply to cases where the at-fault party is guilty of gross negligence.
How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take in Colorado?
The timeline for resolving a wrongful death lawsuit varies based on multiple factors. Resolving a lawsuit in as little as one year may be possible if the at-fault party’s insurance company is motivated to resolve the suit. However, it could take up to four years to resolve a suit if the claim involves multiple at-fault parties or the at-fault party’s insurance company denies responsibility.
The average wrongful death lawsuit timeline also depends on how long you wait to file. Colorado’s statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits allows victims two years to file a suit unless the decedent died from a hit-and-run accident, which doubles the time limit to four years. A delayed filing extends the timeline.
What is the highest wrongful death settlement?
The highest wrongful death settlement possible depends on the economic damages incurred by the decedent’s passing and whether the victims have grounds to seek punitive damages. Colorado does not have a cap on economic damages victims can seek.
The damages cap on non-economic damages is also waived if the cause of the decedent’s death was manslaughter, first-degree murder, or second-degree murder, increasing the possible compensation available to victims.
What is the damage cap for wrongful death in Colorado?
Colorado does limit the non-economic damages victims can seek in a wrongful death lawsuit. The current cap is $571,870; however, the cap increases every two years to account for inflation.
How can a wrongful death attorney help?
At Bachus & Schanker, we understand how devastating it is to lose a loved one unexpectedly. Our Colorado wrongful death lawsuit attorneys handle the legal matters. We’ll prepare the court paperwork and build your case so you can focus on your grief and other obligations. Your wrongful death lawyer’s team will investigate the circumstances surrounding the decedent’s death, and our Victim Advocates team will ensure we have the evidence we need to hold all at-fault parties accountable.
Our Victim Advocates team can also help you find financial assistance while waiting for your settlement, and our legal team is always available to answer questions about your case and explain how new developments impact the case timeline. We will fight for justice after you lose a loved one to a wrongful death.
Contact us now to schedule a free consultation with our wrongful death attorneys.
Gillespie, J. (2023). Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Colorado.