It is a tragedy anytime someone suffers a personal injury, but when the negligence of another causes someone’s accidental and untimely death, it’s especially heartbreaking. While nothing can make up for the loss of a loved one, surviving family members may obtain a certain amount of accountability and closure by filing a wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim gives families the ability to seek justice. However, wrongful death cases are very complex and are often very difficult to prove. In order that you and your loved one receive the justice you deserve, it is important that you get help from a Denver lawyer who is compassionate, dedicated, and experienced in all aspects of wrongful death cases.
At Olson Law Firm, we know just how difficult a wrongful death case can be and just how overwhelming it can feel for the family members of the deceased. It is our goal to provide you with an exceptional client experience along with the best representation possible so that you will receive the compensation you deserve. We also know that it is equally important that you and your family are afforded the resources that you need so that you can heal and move forward. In many cases, you may not even realize yet what they are.
Sean Olson opened his Denver law firm to represent and fight for the victims of negligence. The dedication of the Olson Law Firm Team has earned us not only 5- star reviews but praise beyond measure in the testimonials of former clients. And they aren’t the only ones who have such positive things to say about the Olson Law Firm team; Olson Law Firm has earned the respect and admiration throughout the legal profession as well as from many of his legal colleagues.
It is important that you stop spending any more time worrying about where to turn for help or feeling overwhelmed about how to handle all of this, call our experienced and compassionate team at 303-586-7297 for your free consultation and case review today. Or visit our contact page on our website.
We are here to listen, we are here to inform and we are here to help. Our clients come first and we will be happy to set-up a remote virtual consultation and we have set-up all processes so that you can conduct all interactions including signing all necessary documents from the safety of your own home.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Unlike a typical personal injury suit, which is brought by the victim of an accident against the party responsible for their injuries, wrongful death lawsuits are filed by the deceased’s surviving family members. Typically, it’s the deceased’s surviving spouse or one of their children who brings the lawsuit.
Colorado law defines a wrongful death as one in which the victim died as a result of injuries caused by another party’s negligence or failure to act.
If the victim’s surviving family can prove their case, they are entitled to seek compensation from the responsible party or parties. Wrongful death suits can be filed against individuals, as well as groups of people or a business. These suits can be filed in response to accidental deaths (a car crash, for example) or for willful, malicious deaths (murder, for example).
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Colorado law gives first priority to surviving spouses if they wish to file a wrongful death claim for the first year after a spouse’s death. If the deceased has surviving children, they can file a wrongful death if there is no spouse, or once one year has passed since their family member died.
If the deceased was unmarried and had no children, the parents can file a wrongful death claim. Finally, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can bring what’s known as a “survivor’s action” after a wrongful death to recover damages for specific kinds of losses to the estate.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Denver?
Colorado law sets a deadline for bringing a wrongful death action in court. Known as the statute of limitations, the time limit for filing a Denver wrongful death claim is two years after the date of death. Only very narrow and rare exceptions could extend this deadline.
If you fail to file your wrongful death claim in court before the statute of limitations expires, you will almost certainly give up your right to pursue compensation. Colorado courts strictly enforce the two-year deadline under the statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits.
Two years may seem like a long time, but two years can pass very quickly. Important evidence may be lost and witnesses’ memories may fade. It is important for a wrongful death attorney to get started on your case as soon as possible.
Pursuing a lawsuit may be the furthest thing from your mind as your family copes with the aftermath of an untimely death. However, many of our previous wrongful death clients have said that taking prompt action has actually helped them with the grieving process. Many families gain a sense of closure and comfort from pursuing justice for their loved ones who suffered an untimely death.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death in Denver
Wrongful deaths can take a wide variety of forms in Denver. Some of the most common causes of wrongful death in Denver include:
- Car accidents (drunk driving, driving while fatigued, speeding, reckless driving, etc.)
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Premises liability cases (slip-and-fall accidents, for example)
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice/negligence
- Nursing home abuse
- Workplace accidents and injuries
- Defective products, including dangerous drugs
- Criminal acts (battery, murder, etc.)
This is not a complete list. If someone in your family died as a result of someone else’s wrongful actions, there’s a good chance you may have a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death lawyer can go over your case with you and tell you what your options are.
Denver Wrongful Death Damages
The core elements of a wrongful death claim are very similar to those involved in other negligence-based claims. The three things you will need to prove to win your wrongful death claim are:
- The defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. This basically means that they had a responsibility to act with reasonable care to ensure the victim didn’t suffer harm. Let’s say someone in your family was driving when they were hit and killed by a drunk driver. The drunk driver’s duty of care is to follow the rules of the road and not injure anyone else through their actions or failure to act.
- The defendant breached the duty of care. Someone is considered to be “in breach” of their duty when they fail to live up to their legal responsibilities. In our example of the drunk driver, they failed in their duty of care when they chose to drink and drive, which is a clear violation of state law.
- The defendant’s breach of duty led to the victim’s death. In short: Did the defendant’s actions or failure to act result in your family member’s death? If so, the defendant could be liable for that death. To wrap up our drunk driving example, the accident he caused clearly killed your family member, so they are certainly liable for their death.
Once you’ve proven these three elements, you can seek compensation for damages from the liable party. Potential compensation in a wrongful death claim includes:
- The deceased’s medical bills from the point that they sustained their injuries until they died
- Lost wages and future earnings due to the deceased’s injuries and their shortened opportunity to earn a living
- Other financial benefits to the deceased’s family that were lost as a result of their death
- Funeral and burial costs for the deceased
- Emotional and mental stress as a result of the death
- Loss of emotional support from the deceased
Colorado places a cap on non-economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. These damages include things without a specific price tag, such as mental stress, grief, and loss of emotional support. As of 2020, these damages were capped at $571,870 under R.S. 13-21-203. The law requires the amount to be adjusted every two years.
There’s a special category of damages in wrongful death cases that’s worth noting separately – punitive damages. Punitive damages are handed down by a judge or jury when they find that the defendant acted with particular recklessness in a wrongful death case, or when they want to send a warning to other potential bad actors as a deterrent. Because these cases are so difficult and overwhelming for the families, an experienced Denver wrongful death attorney will help you present the facts of the case to a judge or jury in a way that is clear that they will find there are punitive damages.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Denver
If the untimely and accidental death of a loved one was caused by the negligence and recklessness of another party, you deserve to see the responsible party held accountable for the harm they have caused both your loved one and your grieving family. The Olson Law Firm is here to help you through this tragic situation and to help you receive the compensation that may allow you to move past the despair and into a time of greater solace.
To learn more about wrongful death claims in Denver and how our Olson Law Firm team can help you, call our office at 303-586-7297 or visit our contact page for a free consultation and case review. Our clients are our number one priority. We have set up our processes so that you can conduct all calls, consultations, and sign all necessary documentation remotely and virtually from the safety of your own home. Let us help you.