If you lost a family member due to someone else’s negligence or an intentional act, the pain and grief can be unbearable. Surviving family members often struggle emotionally and financially in the wake of a devastating and untimely loss.
While legal action like a wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring someone back, it can be a crucial tool to get answers, compensation for financial losses, a measure of closure, and a form of justice for the deceased.
The Olson Law Firm is ready to help those who’ve lost loved ones in Colorado or Wyoming get justice. Attorney Sean Olson is prepared to provide compassionate and knowledgeable counsel during this challenging time. Olson has built a reputation for providing exceptional service to his clients, including a 10 out of 10 rating from Avvo.com.
When you contact Olson Law Firm, you’ll be able to tell your story to a caring and skilled attorney during a free and 100% confidential consultation. If you’ve recently lost someone, don’t hesitate to reach out to us right away.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrong death actions are designed to help surviving family members recover compensation when they’ve lost someone due to the negligent or reckless actions of another party.
Colorado defines “wrongful death” as one caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional act of another person or entity. Surviving family members are generally able to file a wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased family member would have had a viable personal injury claim against the person or entity who caused their death.
Wyoming law allows a wrongful death claim in situations where someone’s death was caused by a “wrongful act, neglect or default,” and the deceased would have been able to pursue a personal injury claim if they had survived.
There are many different situations in which surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado or Wyoming. Some examples include:
- Fatal accidents – If someone is fatally injured in a car crash or another injury accident, surviving family members could file a wrongful death against the party or parties responsible for the accident.
- Medical malpractice – Doctors, surgeons, anesthetists, pharmacists, nurses, and other medical professionals could be held accountable if someone dies as a result of improper or irresponsible care or treatment.
- Intentional deaths – If someone is deliberately injured and those injuries prove fatal, surviving family members could potentially pursue a wrongful death action. An example of this is if someone is assaulted and dies from their injuries.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Colorado law has specific limitations on which individuals are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit and when they are allowed to bring the action.
Within the first year of the fatal incident, only the deceased person’s surviving spouse can bring a wrongful death claim. Children of the deceased individual are allowed to join, but only with the surviving spouse’s written consent.
Once a year has passed, the surviving spouse, surviving children, and designated beneficiaries would all be eligible to bring a claim. If the deceased had no spouse and no children, the person’s parents would be eligible to file a claim.
Lastly, the personal representative of the deceased could bring a survival action to recover compensation for the estate’s losses.
In Wyoming, a single personal representative of the estate is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the victim’s estate. Spouses, children, parents, or others who were financially dependent on the deceased may be named in the lawsuit to see compensation for economic and emotional injuries.
It’s crucial to note that the statute of limitations (or time limit for filing a lawsuit) for wrongful death claims in Colorado is two years from the date of the person’s death, with a few exceptions. For example, if the at-fault party committed vehicular homicide in a hit-and-run crash, the statute of limitations would extend to four years. Also, if the at-fault party engages in fraud or tries to hide facts that are relevant to the wrongful death claim, the state may extend the statute of limitations.
Wyoming also sets a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. Only a few very narrow exceptions can extend the deadline.
Because time is limited to take action, be sure to contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible for help.
Elements of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The three core elements that someone must prove in a wrongful death lawsuit are:
- The defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. This means that the defendant had an obligation to act responsibly and prevent the deceased from being injured or dying. For example, drivers must obey traffic laws to prevent injuries to other drivers and pedestrians. Similarly, doctors must adhere to specific standards of care for the protection of patients.
- The defendant breached that duty of care. This means that the defendant broke or failed to live up to their duty of care in some manner. In the case of deaths resulting from car accidents, the defendant may have been drunk or distracted by looking at their phone. In medical malpractice cases, the doctor may have made an error that led to a patient’s death. In cases where someone deliberately injures or kills another person, they likely have broken laws regarding assault, manslaughter, or murder.
- The defendant’s breach of duty led to the deceased’s injury and death. A wrongful death lawsuit requires showing how the defendant’s actions led directly to the victim’s death.
Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Colorado and Wyoming law allows the families of wrongful death victims to recover compensation for a wide range of financial and other losses. That includes:
- The cost of the deceased’s medical care from the time they were injured until the time they died
- Any of the deceased’s lost wages from the time of their injury until their death
- The deceased’s future earnings had the deceased not passed away
- Other financial benefits that the deceased would have earned
- The cost of the deceased’s funeral and burial
- The emotional pain and anguish you have suffered due to your family member’s death
- Loss of financial and emotional support from the deceased
Additionally, a survival action can help you recover additional compensation related to the injuries the deceased suffered before they died, such as their physical pain and suffering.
Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Olson Law Firm provides compassionate and aggressive representation for those who’ve lost a family member due to someone else’s negligence. We understand what you’re going through, and we’re ready to put our skills and experience to work for you. We’ve served our community for a decade, and we’re ready to stand up for you.