Family members who have lost a loved one might be able to bring a lawsuit against those responsible for wrongful death. This lawsuit holds the person who caused the death financially responsible in court, and the defendant must pay compensation to certain surviving family members.
Like all lawsuits, no two wrongful death lawsuits are alike. No one collects information on how much wrongful death cases settle for, so an “average” settlement becomes impossible to calculate. Still, you should understand what factors go into determining the amount of compensation you can receive.
If your spouse died, you were probably counting on receiving his or her income for the rest of their working life. In a wrongful death lawsuit, you can receive a sum of money to make up for these lost wages or other compensation.
Calculating this amount cannot be speculative. You should present to the judge or jury information about:
- Your loved one’s prior employment history
- His or her education or skill set
- How much your loved one made in his or her final job
- Your loved one’s overall health
Based on this information, you can roughly estimate how much the deceased would have made had they lived.
Intangible Emotional Losses
Consequently, our intimate relationships have a value that becomes difficult to reduce to a dollar amount. Therefore, in a wrongful death lawsuit you can receive compensation for these losses, such as:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of comfort
- Loss of love
- Loss of protection
- Loss of affection
These amounts are very difficult to estimate, and may be limited by statute, so it is vital that you meet with a lawyer who has extensive experience in this area of law. Your lawyer can rely on their prior cases to estimate the amount of compensation you might receive for these emotional losses.
Unlike the damages listed above, which are meant to compensate survivors for their loss, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant. These damages are not available in every case. However, Colorado statute 13-21-203(3) allows punitive damages (also called exemplary damages) if the defendant committed the following:
- Willful and wanton conduct
For example, someone who struck your loved one intentionally with a car might need to pay punitive damages for their willful conduct. Conversely, someone who ran over your loved one because they forgot to look in the rearview mirror probably does not.
Compensation Available to the Estate
Also, your loved one’s estate can also bring a lawsuit to recover damages. The lawsuit will be brought by the personal representative, who should be named in the will. If there was no will, then a probate judge will appoint someone to serve in this capacity.
In their lawsuit, the personal representative can recover money spent on:
- Treatment for the deceased’s final illness, such as surgery, hospital stays, or other medical expenses
- Funeral services and the burial
Need More Information? Schedule a Consultation with a Colorado Wrongful Death Lawyer
Finally, wrongful death cases require a nuanced, individualized assessment by an experienced attorney. At the Olson Law Firm, we have handled multiple wrongful death lawsuits and are prepared to assess your chances for compensation. Call us today, 303-586-7297, to schedule your own no-obligation consultation.