We all have a duty to act responsibly and in a safe manner so that we don’t endanger other people with our actions. This means following speed limits, not running red lights, not shooting guns into the air and much more. As a US citizen you have a Duty to follow the law and we are all expected to act within these laws or we can get criminal charges or injury claims brought against us. For a valid wrongful death claim, there has to have been a duty to act responsibly present otherwise it could be thrown out. So for instance if the accident that cause the wrongful death was due to something outside of your control and you weren’t breaking any laws that led to that accident, then you would not be liable. This could be something like your brakes failing on your vehicle that had been properly maintained. If you acted in a safe manner and couldn’t prevent the situation that caused the accident then the duty is not present and viable for a valid wrongful death suit. In the above example, the failure of the brakes would be the cause of the accident, so the driver would not be held responsible if he exercised reasonable care to maintain his brakes.
The next thing that has to be involved is that the accident that happened actually caused the fatal injury. So if you get in an accident and the injured person ends up dying because of their injuries from that accident, then that qualifies as causation. If the accident caused non life threatening injuries, but then the doctors that were performing surgery on the injured party ended up doing something wrong that caused the person to die during surgery, you would not be responsible for their death because that accident did not directly cause the victims death. The liability for a situation like that would be on the doctor who performed a faulty surgery that caused their death. Without causation you do not have a valid wrongful death lawsuit.
There also needs to be damages suffered by the victims heirs. By damages, we mean financial losses that were incurred due to the wrongful death. There are two categories of damages in a wrongful death action in Colorado: economic damages and non-economic damages.
If there are no economic damages from the unfortunate death of a loved one, say if the decedent was no longer working and had retired, then recovery in a wrongful death action is limited to non-economic damages. Non-economic damages in a wrongful death are impossible to quantify, as there is no price, no matter how high, any of us would accept to fully compensate for the death of a loved one. Because of the difficulty involved in quantifying non-economic damages, Colorado law places a cap, or upper limit, on the amount that can be awarded for the loss of companionship of the deceased person. This amount varies depending upon the level of culpability of the defendant, the type of accident, and even the year in which the accident occurred. It is always a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney so you can be fully informed about the limits of recovery for non-economic damages in a wrongful death action.
There are two ways of proving the non-economic damages in Colorado. For a close family member, demonstrating the emotional impact following the loss of a loved one is the preferred way to prove the damages. A claimant may alternatively elect to pursue a Solatium amount, which is a much lower amount than the cap on non-economic damages, but requires that no proof of emotional distress be provided.
The statute of limitations is not straightforward however. You also have to have standing to file a wrongful death claim. Not anyone can file a claim, only certain family members of the decedent are entitled to do so by statute, and there are different time periods in which a parent, child, or spouse may file the suit. This is why it is important to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney before trying to resolve a case on your own. It is also impossible to fully flush out all of the contingencies in a short internet article.
For best results with your case, there are a few things that you can do to increase your odds of winning. First is to hire an excellent attorney to represent you. Many people try to handle the wrongful death lawsuit themselves and end up getting much less compensation than they could have if they would have had proper representation from a law firm that knows the ins and outs of wrongful death claims. This is the best way to get the maximum compensation possible.
Next is filing your claim as quickly after the death as the law allows. This gives your lawyer plenty of time to gather evidence and present your claim or negotiate it before the statute of limitations runs out. It also helps your lawyer get witness testimony from anyone that witnessed the accident while the event is still fresh in their mind. This can help with getting all the details of what happened which can make a huge difference in some situations.
Lastly, is making sure you have everything that you lost due to the death readily available and documented so that your attorney can claim these losses and get you the maximum compensation. There may be things you can get compensation for that you aren’t aware of, so make sure you go over everything thoroughly with your lawyer to make sure you aren’t missing out on any compensation. This won’t help you win the case unless you can’t prove any damages, but will help improve your compensation package.
We know that losing a loved one is never an easy thing to deal with and that’s why we do everything we can to make sure that the wrongful death claims process is as easy as possible for you. We don’t start negotiations until we have all the details we need to present a bulletproof case to the liable party so that your case has the absolute best chance of winning and maximizing the settlement you receive. Don’t wait to speak with an attorney, we offer free 24/7 consultations, so feel free to give us a call anytime or stop by our office in Colorado Springs, CO.