WHAT IS INVOLVED IN A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
In most car-accident cases, the plaintiff is seeking compensation for the personal injuries and other damages caused by the at-fault driver. When a car crash results in a death, though, the subsequent legal action may involve what is known as a wrongful death claim, with the family of the victim seeking compensation for the loss of their loved one’s life.
The premise for a wrongful death action isn’t typically all that complicated; it’s a claim that the responsible party, by committing a wrongful act – ranging from reckless driving or some other negligent behavior to medical malpractice to intentionally harmful conduct, such as assault – caused the death of another. According to our car/auto accident attorneys, there are certain deadlines and restrictions on wrongful death lawsuits that make it essential for the victim’s family to seek the advice and guidance of an experienced wrongful death lawyer before proceeding.
The first thing to understand about a wrongful death claim is that it’s a civil action, not an attempt to criminally prosecute the at-fault party. It’s up to the police and district attorney to determine if criminal charges are warranted, and that’s an entirely separate proceeding from the civil lawsuit. Financial compensation is a poor substitute for the irreplaceable loss of a loved one, but it is a legal option that can attempt to address some of the more obvious ways the loss has impacted the victim’s family.
WHO CAN FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT?
Colorado’s wrongful death statute specifies that only certain people related to the decedent may bring a wrongful death claim. The surviving spouse can bring such a case in the first year after the death. The deceased person’s children, heirs or designated beneficiaries may file in the second year after the death. If the deceased person was unmarried and had no children or designated beneficiaries, the parents of the decedent may bring the action. To sort out the legal standing of the claimants and deal with the deadlines involved in filing suit, it’s important to get a wrongful death attorney involved early in the process.
WHAT DAMAGES CAN BE SOUGHT?
There are two types of damages that can be sought in a wrongful death lawsuit. Economic damages are intended to address financial losses resulting from the death, including the loss of the wages or income that person would have received; medical expenses stemming from the fatal incident, as well as funeral expenses; and related costs. Noneconomic damages can be more challenging to calculate, as they involve trying to put a monetary value on the more deeply personal aspects of the loss — the grief, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of companionship experienced by the victim’s survivors.
Colorado is one of many states that has put a cap on the amount that can be awarded for this type of losses. In the Centennial State, there is a $250,000 limit on pain and suffering and loss of companionship claims, as well as an overall limit for noneconomic damages.
THE WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYERS AT FDAZAR
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise in serious injury and wrongful death cases have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Collins, Greeley, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a car/auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.