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If your loved one has died because of the negligence of someone else, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim for compensation. It can be helpful to think of a wrongful death lawsuit as the action your loved one would have taken in court against the negligent party had she or he lived. Since your loved one is no longer able to file, you can do it for him or her.

What exactly is a “wrongful” death?

The death of a loved one almost always results in a loss of companionship and income, but not every death is considered “wrongful.” Essentially, a wrongful death is one that was caused in some way by another person’s recklessness, intent to harm, or negligence. Some examples include construction accidents, defective products, car accidents, and other motor vehicle or motorcycle accidents.

Who can file a claim in Colorado?

Under state laws, the person’s surviving spouse can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the first year following his or her death. During the second year, the surviving spouse or the surviving children may file a claim. If the person who died had no surviving children or spouse, then his or her parents can file a claim instead. The person who is representing the estate is also allowed to file another action, known as the survival action, to recover damages for some types of losses to the estate.

What damages can you receive?

The amount of money you’ll receive in a Colorado wrongful death claim depends on the specifics of your case, but you can generally seek damages for:

• The compensation, such as wages, that the deceased person would have likely earned if she or he had lived;
• All benefits now lost because of his or her death, including life insurance; and
• The loss of companionship, love, assistance, protection, affection and care of the deceased person.

In the survival action by the representative of the estate, the damages are for estate losses such as medical expenses related to the final injury or illness of the deceased person and burial and funeral costs.

You and your family may also be able to seek punitive damages. This compensation isn’t based on actual losses; instead, it serves to punish the negligent person responsible for your loved one’s death and deter other people from behaving in the same way.

Is there a time limit?

Under state law, you have only two years after the person’s date of death in which to file a wrongful death claim. If you don’t file the claim in time, you may not be able to receive any damages related to the death of your loved one.

If you’ve lost a loved one because of the negligence of someone else, speak to an experienced attorney today. A wrongful death case can be complex because it must be proven that the negligent or reckless party had a duty of care that they failed to meet and that their failure resulted in your loved one’s death.

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