Denver Wrongful Death Attorneys
Our Denver wrongful death attorneys are passionate advocates for wrongful death victims and their families. Contact Front Range Injury Attorneys today for a free case review. Learn more about how we can help you recover for your family’s loss.
Losing a loved one is always a heartbreaking experience. It can be more traumatic for you and your family to lose a family member due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another person or entity. In addition to suddenly losing a part of your family, you may experience changes to your family’s financial situation that can lead to long term difficulties for you and the other survivors. A settlement or jury award will never compensate you and your family for your loss. A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal option to pursue justice for your loved one and hold the responsible party accountable. It is also an opportunity to recover compensation for your family’s financial losses caused by the sudden loss of your loved one.
If you’ve lost a family member to an act of negligence, you owe it to yourself to understand your legal rights and ability to seek justice for your family. Front Range Injury Attorneys helps clients seek justice and compensation. Contact our office for a free case review and we can help you understand your legal options.
Why Choose Front Range Injury Attorneys?
At Front Range Injury Attorneys we care about helping our clients throughout their cases. We believe clients are best served when our personal injury attorneys participate in their cases from start to finish. We help our clients get the best treatment for their injuries. By building up your case from the beginning, we build a strong case to get the best results.
How we can help you
Watch this video to see managing attorney Adam Kielich discuss wrongful death claims and how our law firm can help you recover for your losses.
Contact our law office to discuss your Colorado wrongful death case. We offer free case reviews for injury and accident cases across the state.
Tell us about your case
How can a Denver wrongful death lawyer help?
Wrongful death lawsuits often involve complex legal and factual issues. Whether someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing caused your loved one’s passing is often a complex question requiring experts. They often involve substantial financial issues including medical bills and a lifetime of lost earnings. Having an experienced Denver wrongful death lawyer on your side is critical to preserve necessary evidence, develop your case and pursue fair compensation.
In virtually every case the negligent party and its insurance company will hire experienced defense attorneys and experts. Their job is to avoid financial and factual responsibility for your family member’s death. With a potentially high value cases on the line, they will put up a tough and expensive battle to avoid paying anything on your wrongful death claim. If you don’t have an experienced Denver wrongful death lawyer on your side, you will be sorely outmatched by their experts and attorneys.
What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
Wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another. Your wrongful death claim is a civil action for the benefit of surviving family members of the deceased. A wrongful death claim may be filed against one or more party that contributed to your family member passing. It is similar to a personal injury claim the victim could have pursued while alive. Although these claims may resolve without litigation, it is likely that a wrongful death claim will require a lawsuit to obtain just compensation.
Who can legally file a wrongful death claim under Colorado law?
Wrongful death lawsuits involve special rules about who may pursue a lawsuit and when. Most personal injury lawsuits are filed by the individual suffering bodily injury. The claim belongs to that person. In a wrongful death lawsuit the person suffering direct injury has passed away. The wrongful death claim belongs to specific family members, or in some cases the deceased’s estate. If an ineligible person files a lawsuit, or an eligible person files at the wrong time, the court can dismiss the lawsuit.
Under the Colorado wrongful death statute, Colorado Revised Statute 13-21-201 to 204, there is a specific order of priority for filing a lawsuit.
In the first year following death, a lawsuit may be filed by:
- A surviving spouse;
- With the surviving spouse’s consent, the spouse and heirs;
- With the spouse’s consent, only the heirs;
- If there is no spouse, then by the heirs or a designated beneficiary.
In the second year following death, a lawsuit may be filed by:
- Any combination of surviving spouse, heirs, or designated beneficiary;
- But if the heirs file in the second year without including a surviving spouse or designated beneficiary, the spouse and beneficiary may join the lawsuit as plaintiffs.
Generally the heirs of the deceased include surviving children. If there are no living children, the deceased’s living parents are typically heirs who may file a lawsuit. When a minor child passes, the living parents are generally heirs entitled to file a lawsuit.
These rules can result in complicated situations where family members disagree about who should share in the proceeds of a lawsuit. If you lost a family member to a wrongful death, you should contact our law office right away to understand your rights to pursue a claim.
How long does the family have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado?
Wrongful death claims are subject to a statute of limitations under Colorado law. Any person or representative of the deceased’s estate must file the wrongful death lawsuit within two years. If your wrongful death claim is not filed in that time period, the court may dismiss any future lawsuit as untimely. You cannot recover any compensation after the statute of limitations.
An important consideration with this deadline is wrongful death cases involving car accidents. Under Colorado law, the standard statute of limitations is two years for negligence claims. Colorado law extends the deadline to three years for car accidents but not car accident claims for wrongful death. The lone exception that extends the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims involving auto accidents is if the accident causes vehicle homicide and the negligent driver flees the scene. Hit and run accidents resulting in death have a four year statute of limitations. This allows more time to investigate the identity of the responsible party.
Nevertheless, it is important to not wait to get started on your wrongful death claim. There may be other deadlines to consider. For example, if a Colorado governmental agency caused your family member’s passing, there is a special claim that your attorney must file before six months to file a lawsuit within the two year statute of limitations. It is also beneficial to hire an attorney right away so your attorney can investigate and preserve important evidence. It may take considerable time for experts to evaluate evidence and produce expert opinions supporting your case.
What damages can you recover in a Colorado wrongful death lawsuit?
The jury or judge will determine the amount of compensation you can recover for your wrongful death case. Colorado law determines the types of compensation, or money damages, you may receive. How much you may receive of each type of damages depends on the facts of your case.
Economic damages include the costs associated with the family member’s injury or death. You may recover certain types of economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit including:
- Medical expenses related to the illness or injury causing death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Past lost earnings
- Future earnings the deceased likely would have earned if he or she continued living
- Financial benefits lost as a result of death
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of parental assistance, care and affection
- Emotional stress
In some cases family members may seek punitive damages for a defendant’s reckless conduct. Punitive damages, also called exemplary damages, are not based on compensating you for losses suffered. They seek to punish the defendant for extreme wrongdoing to deter similar actions in the future. The judge has discretion to permit you to ask the jury to award punitive damages.
Limits on wrongful death damages in Colorado
You should talk to a wrongful death lawyer about the proper amount and type of damages in your case. The insurance company and defense lawyers will fight hard to limit the amount they may pay on your case; however, Colorado law also sets upper limits on
Colorado law establishes caps on certain damages in certain cases. Wrongful death cases almost always involve one or more damages cap. Non-economic damages are generally capped at $468,010 (as of 2022) but a court may increase the cap to $936,030 (as of 2022) if there is clear and convincing evidence why the cap should increase. No cap applies if the wrongful death results from a felonious killing–involving the commission of a felony. Generally a wrongful death claim does not have a cap for economic damages.
If a wrongful death claim involves a dram shop claim (against a bar for overserving alcohol) or medical malpractice, different caps apply which may limit both economic and non-economic damages.
Proving a wrongful death claim in Colorado
Colorado’s wrongful death statute defines the cause of wrongful death as a “wrongful act, neglect or default of another person”. Proving wrongful death requires proving another party’s error or intent caused a death that otherwise would not occur.
Your Denver wrongful death attorney must prove the defendant negligently or intentionally caused death. Most wrongful death claims involve negligence, such as an auto accident or medical malpractice.
Elements of negligence in a wrongful death action
To receive compensation for a negligence-based wrongful death lawsuit, your Denver wrongful death attorney must prove three elements.
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
- Breach caused death
Your attorney must prove the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased. For example, drivers have a duty to drive with reasonable care and follow traffic laws. A duty of care can also exist because the defendant accepted a position of caretaking for the deceased, such as a doctor or hospital. In most cases the standard of care is reasonableness. In special relationships, like physician-patient relationships, a higher standard exists.
Next, your attorney must prove the defendant breached the duty of care. A breach occurs when the defendant’s conduct fails to rise to the duty of care. That can be because the defendant outright ignored the duty or because the defendant acknowledged the duty but fell short of the legal standard of care.
Third, your attorney must prove the defendant’s failure to act with the required degree of care resulting in the death of your family member and caused the economic and non-economic damages you seek.
If the jury agrees your attorney proved these three elements, then the jury must decide how much to award in damages based upon the evidence your attorney presents during your trial.
Causes of wrongful death
Wrongful death claims commonly involve serious accidents causing catastrophic injuries and negligence involving healthcare practices. These include:
- Automobile accidents
- Criminal acts
- Bicycle accidents
- Dangerous prescription and over the counter drugs
- Defective products
- Fall accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Workplace accidents
- Commercial trucking accidents
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, accidents result in more than 3,000 deaths every year in Colorado. It is the third highest cause of deaths in the state behind cancer and heart disease. If a loved one passed away due to an accident, defective product, or healthcare negligence, contact Front Range Injury Attorneys to get started on your case.
Contact a wrongful death lawyer in Denver
Front Range Injury Attorneys believes people deserve representation by lawyers who actively participate in their case and communicate with clients. If you lost a loved one due to a negligent act, contact our law office right away. We offer free case reviews to help you understand your rights and assess whether we are the right law firm for you and your wrongful death case. Our Denver wrongful death attorneys are ready to fight aggressively to help you seek justice for your loved one and your family.