The unexpected death of a loved one is a heartbreaking and stressful experience. Though financial issues may be the last thing on your mind, it is important to understand your right to compensation if you have lost your loved one due to another person’s negligence. A wrongful death suit is your civil action to bring justice for your loved one against those who caused your loss.
A wrongful death suit is legally complicated and emotionally draining, but legal counsel is here to help. Let a skilled Boulder wrongful death lawyer carry the burden of the legal and financial implications that come with losing your loved one.
Colorado Revised Statutes Section 13-21-201 governs which family members can bring a wrongful death claim. A surviving spouse has the first right to bring a wrongful death action during the first year after the decedent’s death. If there is no surviving spouse, the decedent’s children or the designated beneficiary may bring the action. If there are no children, then the decedents’ parents may bring suit.
In the second year after the death, the action may be brought by the spouse or the children. Siblings cannot bring a wrongful death action in Boulder, even if they are the only surviving relatives.
Economic and non-economic damages may be recovered for a wrongful death claim in Boulder. Economic damages cover losses such as medical bills, loss of decedent’s earnings and retirement benefits, funeral expenses, and the like. Non-economic damages cover pain and suffering, grief, loss of companionship and consortium, and emotional stress.
Non-economic damages are capped for Boulder wrongful death claims, meaning there is a limitation on the amount of damages one can receive. Recent damage caps were raised for inflation starting on January 1, 2020, and will be adjusted for inflation on the first of January for the following two years and every two years after that.
In addition, the total amount of all recoverable damages, both economic and non-economic, for someone who leaves no spouse, minor children, or dependent parents is also capped.
Damages are not capped if the decedent’s death was the result of a “felonious killing,” which means that the at-fault party was found guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, or manslaughter. A family may ask the court to determine if elements of felonious killing exist in their loved one’s case.
Under Colorado’s comparative negligence statute, the family of a deceased person can recover damages if the percentage of the person’s responsibility for the accident was less than the defendant’s fault. The damages that are recoverable in these cases are subject to a reduction by the percentage of negligence charged to the decedent.
Issues of percentage of fault are complex legal matters that may require outside experts to assess the situation. A Boulder wrongful death attorney who is familiar with local comparative negligence laws may be able to further explain them to a family wishing to file a claim.
If your loved one has died as the result of another’s negligence, a Boulder wrongful death lawyer may be able to help you recover the compensation you are owed so that you can move forward in your healing process. Financial damages will never fully make up for your loss, but they may ease your stress in this difficult time. Call today to schedule a consultation and get started on your case.