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Who is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

stone angel in a cemetery | Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death claims are intended to compensate family members left behind after a loved one is killed in an accident. Colorado, like every state, has statutes governing the procedures for filing a wrongful death claim. These laws dictate who may file a claim and what compensation they might be entitled to.

A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit against an individual or entity that is responsible for the death of another person. It is separate from any criminal case which may be pending, but can be filed simultaneously. Car accidents, slip and fall accidents, and injuries caused by defective products can all form the basis for a legal claim.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado?

Only certain persons may file a wrongful death claim in Colorado and there are very restrictive time limits for each party to do so.

State law dictates that the surviving spouse of the decedent may file a wrongful death claim within the first year following the death.

In the second year following the death, the surviving children of the decedent and the surviving spouse are both eligible to file a wrongful death claim.

If the event the decedent left no surviving spouse and no surviving children, the parents of the deceased individual are allowed to file a claim.

A claim known as a “survival action” can be filed by a representative of the decedent’s estate. This claim is made in an attempt to recover damages for specific kinds of losses to the estate caused by the death. This claim may be filed in addition to the claim filed by surviving family members.

All wrongful death lawsuits in Colorado must be filed within two years of the date of death.

If someone you love has been killed because of another person’s negligence, it is important to speak to an experienced Colorado wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Green Law Firm, P.C. today for a free initial consultation and review of your case.

Eligible Damages in a Colorado Wrongful Death Claim

Monetary damages in a Colorado wrongful death case are determined by the jury- or judge if there is no jury. The exact amount of damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit is dependent on the facts of that particular case. Generally speaking, however, family members filing a wrongful death claim in Colorado can seek damages for the following losses:

  • Income and other compensation the decedent would likely have earned over their lifetime,
  • Any benefits lost due to the death, including life insurance, and
  • Loss of love, comfort, care, protection, and companionship of the decedent.

The representative of the decedent’s estate is also permitted to seek the following damages:

  • Compensation for emergency care, medical, and hospital expenses associated with the decedent’s final illness or injury, and
  • Funeral and burial costs.

In some situations the family may also be able to seek punitive damages. These are awarded to punish the defendant and are not based on the actual losses suffered because of the death.