A Colorado wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit that strives to substantiate the liability of one person or entity for the death of another. Because many of the kinds of accidents and injuries that constitute a personal injury case- car accidents, slips and falls, and medical malpractice- also form the basis of a wrongful death suit, it is sometimes helpful to think of a wrongful death claim as a personal injury case in which the victim is unable to initiate their own claim. Alternatively, another party will file the claim on behalf of the decedent or his or her estate.
Because a wrongful death claim is a civil case, it differs from a criminal case in two main respects. First, it is filed by surviving family members or the personal representative of the decedent’s estate rather than the state. And secondly, liability is expressed in terms of monetary damages instead of imprisonment or other penalties.
Civil and criminal suits can be filed concurrently, and outcomes are independent of one another.
In Colorado, the only party eligible to file a wrongful death claim in the first year following a death is the surviving spouse. Both the surviving spouse and children of the decedent may file a wrongful death claim during the second year after the death. In the event there is no surviving spouse or children, parents of the decedent may file a claim. Additionally, the representative of the deceased person’s estate may file a claim known as a “survival action” in an attempt to recover compensation for specific kinds of losses suffered by the estate.
In addition to restricting which family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit, Colorado statutes also impose time limits on the filing of claims. All wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date of the death.
Successful wrongful death claims can recover monetary compensation for losses suffered by the decedent’s survivors and estate. These damages can include:
Additionally, family members may be able to collect punitive damages based not on the losses suffered because of the victim’s death, but rather to punish the wrongdoer for their grievously negligent actions and to discourage others from acting in a similar fashion.
The complexities of a Colorado wrongful death lawsuit require a personal injury attorney with extensive knowledge and understanding. At Fuicelli & Lee, our compassionate and experienced Longmont wrongful death attorneys will work diligently to protect the interests of grieving families while they focus on returning to daily life.
For a free initial consultation with Fuicelli & Lee, PC, send us an e-mail or call (720) 494-0444. You pay nothing unless you receive a financial settlement or award. It is simply the mission of every Longmont wrongful death attorney on the Fuicelli & Lee team to provide the best service possible.
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