coffin in hurst going to funeral

When a loved one dies due to another person’s negligence, it can leave you with many questions. While it is not possible to bring them back, you may have grounds to take legal action and file a wrongful death claim with assistance from a wrongful death attorney. Part of the claim process is deciding how you want the wrongful death settlement paid.

When you need legal advice and guidance after the wrongful death of a loved one, contact our wrongful death attorneys today.

How are wrongful death settlements paid out?

There are generally two options for how wrongful death settlements are paid out. The first one is a lump sum settlement. With this option, you receive a single lump sum payment for the settlement amount. 

The second one is a structured settlement. With this type of settlement, payments are paid out at set intervals rather than one large lump sum. This option provides long-term, regular payments for the plaintiff. 

What is the average wrongful death settlement?

No amount of money can replace the loss of a loved one. As such, several factors are used to determine the average wrongful death settlement, including:

  • The amount of income the person made.
  • The age of the person.
  • The anticipated life expectancy of the person.
  • The relationship between the deceased and the plaintiff. 
  • The circumstances of the person’s death. 
  • The wrongful death laws in your state. 

What damages are available for a wrongful death claim? 

The damages available in a wrongful death claim include economic and non-economic damages. In some cases, punitive damages are also awarded. 

Economic Damages

Non-Economic Damages

  • Pain and Suffering
  • Mental Anguish
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life
  • Loss of Companionship/Consortium

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded in some instances where the defendant’s actions are considered grossly negligent as a means of punishment and to deter others from doing the same thing. 

Do you have to pay taxes on a wrongful death settlement?

In most cases, the money you receive from a wrongful death settlement is not taxable based on IRS Rule 1.104-1. However, there are exceptions where part of the settlement could be taxable. For example, you deducted the deceased’s medical expenses. In addition, punitive damages are considered taxable except in certain situations. 

Who is eligible to receive a wrongful death settlement?

There is a specific order in which a person can file and receive a wrongful death settlement in Colorado, as detailed in CRS 12-21-201 (1). The order of succession begins with the deceased’s spouse. The spouse is the only person that can file within the first year from the time of death. 

However, the spouse could give written permission to allow any of the children the right to file or decide to give permission to allow the children to join in the lawsuit with them. If there is no spouse, then the children would have the option to file within the first year. 

Otherwise, if there is no spouse or children, then the deceased’s parents may file or a designated beneficiary if the deceased named one in a will.

If no one has initiated a lawsuit within the first year, then the order of succession is the same. The children no longer need written permission from the spouse to file a wrongful death lawsuit.  

How long does it take to receive a wrongful death settlement?

wrongful death settlement on tablet going over documents

The length of time it takes to receive a wrongful death settlement can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. When the process is fairly simple, reaching a settlement agreement could take about a year. 

On the other hand, if the case is more complex or the defendant’s insurance company is unwilling to settle, it could take a few years before the lawsuit is resolved. In some cases, it could take up to four years before the case is resolved. 

How long do you have to file a wrongful death claim?

In Colorado, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim is limited to two years from the date of death, as detailed in CRS 13-80-102.

Can you file a wrongful death claim when the defendant also committed a crime?

In certain situations, the defendant could face criminal charges for the death of your loved one. For example, they were under the influence of alcohol and caused a car accident that resulted in your loved one’s death. Criminally, they could be facing negligent homicide charges.  

However, criminal matters are separate from civil matters. Therefore, you could file a wrongful death claim against the defendant. One of the well-known cases where the defendant faced criminal charges for murder and was also sued for wrongful death by the surviving family members was O.J. Simpson.

How many wrongful death claims go to trial?

The vast majority of wrongful death claims are settled without having to go to trial. Only a small percentage actually requires filing a lawsuit to have the case litigated at trial. Even then, most of those cases end up settling before the jury reaches a verdict. 

How can a wrongful death lawyer help you understand the process of a wrongful death claim from start to finish?

wrongful death lawyer at desk going over paper work

When you experience a sudden loss from the unexpected death of a loved one, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to do next. You will often have many questions about what to do next or face the uncertainty of the future. 

In these times, it’s best to get help from a wrongful death lawyer that can help guide you through the process one step at a time. When the unthinkable happens, you will be able to regain some level of control during a difficult time. 

Your wrongful death lawyer will represent your interests when dealing with the defendant’s insurance company, filing the wrongful death claim, negotiating the settlement, and ensuring you receive a fair settlement.  Should the insurance company not want to settle, your wrongful death lawyer will continue aggressively advocating for you in court. 

At Bachus & Schanker, our Elite Litigation Group focuses on helping you during this difficult time. Attorney Kyle Bachus knows first-hand how difficult it is to lose a loved one in an accident suddenly. As such, we want to help ensure you receive a fair settlement so you can have a financially secure future.

Request a free case evaluation and consultation with one of our wrongful death attorneys today.


CRS 13-21-201. (2022).
26 CFR 1.104-1.C
RS 13-80-102. (2022).