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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado?

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August 18, 2022 Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual, company, or entity is an incredible tragedy, one that your family should not have to endure. When this does happen, you may have the right to compensation for your losses. It is important to know who is allowed to file a wrongful death claim in Colorado. The law in the state is rather specific about who can file these claims.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim – Who Does It?

If you’ve lost a loved one, we know that this is a difficult time, and the last thing on your mind is trying to figure out a lawsuit. However, Colorado law is specific about who can file these claims. Not only that but unlike in other states, the law changes who is able to file depending on how long after the death occurred. 

During the first year after the date of death, the only person allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit is the deceased’s spouse, if there was a spouse. There are some exceptions to this. During that first year after the death, the surviving spouse can choose (in writing) to allow the children of the deceased to file the claim or join their wrongful death claim. 

In the event the deceased was unmarried at the time of death, then the right to file the lawsuit in the first year after death falls to the deceased’s children or a designated beneficiary. 

In the second year after a person’s death, if the spouse has not chosen to file the claim yet, then the following individuals are allowed to file:

  • The surviving spouse
  • The surviving children
  • The spouse and children together
  • An eligible beneficiary and the children

If the children of the deceased file first, then the surviving spouse and/or the designated beneficiary have 90 days to join the lawsuit. 

In the event, the deceased had no spouse (whether they were unmarried or a minor) and they had no children or beneficiaries, then their parents are allowed to file the wrongful death claim.

Overall, it is crucial to file all wrongful death lawsuits in Colorado within two years from the date of the person’s death. Failing to do so will result in the surviving family members or designated beneficiaries becoming unable to recover any compensation. 

In the event the individual died as a result of a hit-and-run classified as vehicular homicide, the statute of limitations is extended to four years from the date of death. 

Types of Compensation Available for a Colorado Wrongful Death Case

There may be various types of compensation available to surviving family members if the wrongful death lawsuit is successful. This includes a range of economic and non-economic compensation, including the following:

  • Any wages the deceased would likely have earned during their lifetime
  • Compensation for benefits lost as a result of the death, including insurance
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Pain and suffering the survivor’s experience
  • Loss of companionship, comfort, guidance, and support the deceased would have provided

There are various limitations in place on the total amount of non-economic compensation plaintiffs can receive in a Colorado wrongful death lawsuit, so please contact a lawyer when moving forward with your claim.