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Wrongful Death Damages: What You Can Recover

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What Damages Can You Receive In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If you have a wrongful death lawsuit, you’ve also experienced a terrible loss. A parent, child, or spouse was unnecessarily and suddenly killed due to the negligence of another person. There’s nothing that can be done to repair the damage caused, but you still have to consider your options. You may be without the financial support of a person upon whom you relied to pay the mortgage, to support you while you went to school, or took care of the children. A wrongful death lawsuit is designed to compensate you financially for losses which are by definition unquantifiable, so you can regain a sense of security in your life while you grieve for your loss.
calculating damages in a wrongful death lawsuit
Specifically, a claimant in a wrongful death lawsuit can recover compensation for economic damages, noneconomic damages and in select cases punitive or exemplary damages. The amount you will receive varies by each individual case and can be calculated more specifically by your wrongful death lawyer.

Economic Damages

Economic damages in a wrongful death claim are those associated with burial or funeral costs, and the loss of income of the deceased person if it can be shown that the claimant relied upon the deceased person for financial support.  It is important to keep in mind that the claimant, and not the deceased person, is the one asserting damages in a wrongful death case.  That means only those economic losses suffered by the surviving claimant will be considered, not the economic losses of the deceased person.
Some of the most common damages that are paid out in injury or wrongful death claims are as follows: funeral costs, burial expenses, property damages, and lost wages. A great wrongful death law firm will also calculate how much that person would have contributed to their family members had they not passed away so that those amounts can also be recovered.  Colorado law does not cap or limit the amount that can be recovered for economic damages in a wrongful death case.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages is the term that refers to the non-monetary losses associated with the death of a loved one, such as the loss of society and comfort because of the wrongful death. This is impossible to quantify in the case of a lost loved one, but unlike economic damages described above, Colorado law does place a cap or upper limit on the amount that can be recovered for non-economic damages in a wrongful death claim.  We are unable to say what the cap is in an internet article, as it varies, depending upon the conduct of the person at fault, and the year in which the wrongful death occurred.  It is important to consult with an attorney before attempting to answer the question of what the limits to non-economic damages are in any particular wrongful death case, as they are by nature some of the more complicated civil cases in Colorado personal injury law.
When requesting non-economic damages in your settlement demand letter, there needs to be sufficient evidence of any claims made to ensure that the opposing party will agree that the compensation requested is valid and that the amount requested is fair. Fair is a relative term in this context, as no amount of money will replace a lost loved one.  Fair is generally considered to be whether your request for non-economic damages is within the limits that are allowed by Colorado law. Due to the fact that each party will calculate these numbers slightly differently, and may disagree, there is typically negotiation back and forth during this part of the settlement process so make sure you have an expert law firm on your side so that you can get maximum compensation for the loss of your loved one.

Punitive Damages

Punitive or exemplary damages can be awarded in cases where the negligent party acted willfully or wantonly and those actions caused the deceased person to become injured and that injury turned fatal. Punitive damages are an extra cost on top of the economic and noneconomic damages paid out as a so-called punishment expense. Punitive or exemplary damages are exactly that, a punishment payment for acting in such a dangerous and reckless manner that it ended up causing someone to lose their life.

Survival Actions

In some cases, there is the potential to file a survival action alongside a wrongful death claim. Survival actions are personal injury lawsuits designed to get compensation for the medical bills of the deceased between the injury and their death, if the death was not immediate, and are brought on behalf of the estate of the deceased person.  For example, if someone is injured in a car accident and then deals with weeks of medical treatment before the injuries turn fatal, then there could be an additional survival action to get compensation for the medical expenses incurred by the estate of the deceased person prior to their death.

Who Can Receive Compensation?

Wrongful death lawsuits may only be filed by certain family members after the death. The people who have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit are as follows: spouses, children, and parents of the deceased person. Spouses have the first right to file a claim and will be able to recover the financial losses that were incurred as well as the loss of companionship. Children of the deceased person may also have the right to file a claim and may be awarded financial losses from the death of a parent as well as financial support, loss of companionship and more.  Parents may also file a claim to recover economic damages as well as damages for their emotional loss and financial support.
It is important to remember that different family members are entitled to file for a claim at different times depending upon whether they are a spouse, child, or parent of the deceased person.  Depending upon the circumstances, some of these potential claimants may be foreclosed.  It is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer before trying to negotiate a wrongful death case.

How Long Do You Have To File Your Claim?

When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you have a set time limit after the death to be able to file your claim. In Colorado, that time limit is set to 2 years after the date of the death. So as long as you file your claim within 2 years of the date of death, then you are within the limits and have taken the first step to protecting your chances of winning your wrongful death claim. You can read more about this in our article about the wrongful death statute of limitations in Colorado.

How Much Is Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth?

Each wrongful death settlement amount is slightly different in the losses that you can recover because each person is different from the next and the damages incurred will not be the same. In addition to calculating what damages exist, it is also important to consider the ability of the other party to pay.  It is an unfortunate truth that you cannot get more money from a person than they have to pay, and many wrongful death cases involve situations that are covered by insurance.  Your ability to recover may be limited by the amount of insurance money that is available.  That is another reason it is important to hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer who will be able to investigate the limits of insurance coverage, and possibly uncover additional policies that may be forced to pay compensation for the actions of the person responsible for the wrongful death.

Like any type of case, it is simply impossible to tell at the beginning what a wrongful death claim will be worth, as it depends on a variety of factors that will not be known until a thorough investigation is completed.  But you can get a ballpark idea of how much your case is worth by calculating all of the monetary losses you incurred and adding a little on top of that for the non-economic losses. Totaling these together will give you an estimate, but it is likely that the actual number will be different because your wrongful death attorney will be able to calculate all of your losses a lot more accurately since they have extensive knowledge in this field, as well as the ability to determine the limits of recovery after an investigation into insurance coverage, and the assets of the person or entity responsible for the wrongful death.

Why You Need An Experienced Attorney

Navigating a wrongful death claim is no easy task. Unless you have done this many times before on your own, there will be a ton of aspects throughout the claim and negotiation process that you will likely be losing money on if you don’t work with an experienced wrongful death lawyer. Personal injury lawyers deal with these types of cases every day and know exactly how to present your case so that you can get maximum financial compensation for the loss of your loved one.
When you work with Rector Stuzynski LLC, you can be sure that the representation you are getting is top notch. We have been winning cases for our clients for decades and have an extensive list of 5 star reviews to prove that our clients love us. From start to finish, we are confident that you will have a great experience and get results that are second to none. So if you have a wrongful death claim that you need help with, make sure to reach out to our team today for a free consultation. You can call us 24/7 or stop by our office in Colorado Springs, CO to visit with our attorneys in person.

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We serve clients injured anywhere throughout the state of Colorado, but we focus on residents of these areas: Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Fountain, Briargate, Monument, Black Forest, Pueblo, Canon City, Larkspur, Security-Widefield, Peyton, Castle Rock, Teller County, El Paso County, Elbert County, Park County, Douglas County and beyond.