Mintz Law Firm
Thornton Wrongful Death Attorneys
No family should have to experience the tragic and preventable death of their loved one. Unfortunately, other people’s careless mistakes and reckless actions cause fatal injuries to someone every day. To make matters worse, many have to stress about a wrongful death claim on top of mourning for their loved one. While no amount of money can make up for their loss, it can at least help relieve the financial stress brought on by their loved one’s death. This is where a skilled Thornton wrongful death lawyer can help.
Mintz Law Firm can help you and your family through this confusing and emotional time by offering trustworthy legal representation. Our Thornton wrongful death attorneys are committed to helping our clients secure justice on behalf of their loved ones. The wrongful death attorneys at Mintz Law Firm will take on the strain and complexities of the wrongful death process so that you have one less thing to worry about.
3 Important Colorado Wrongful Death Laws
Wrongful death is an incredibly traumatic experience. Not only do families lose their loved ones, but they have to come to terms with the fact that it was a completely preventable and avoidable death. All this can make a wrongful death case incredibly personally and legally challenging for surviving family members. However, it’s important to understand the basics of the process. Some important Colorado wrongful death laws to know include:
1. The Definition of Wrongful Death
In Colorado, wrongful death is the death of a person caused by the negligence, reckless, or intentional misconduct of another person or entity. Generally, if the deceased person would have been able to file a personal injury claim if they had survived, the surviving family would most likely be able to file a wrongful death claim.
2. Burden of Proof
The plaintiff has to bear the burden of proving wrongful death. In a wrongful death case, the burden of proof is based on a preponderance of evidence that demonstrates that the defendant is more than likely than not responsible for the victim’s death.
3. Statute of Limitations
Like most personal injury cases, wrongful death cases have a statute of limitations. In Colorado, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the date of the victim’s death. People who fail to file their claim before the statute of limitations risk losing their right to file and recover damages.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado?
Colorado wrongful death laws place restrictions on who and when someone can file a wrongful death claim.
The First Year After the Victim’s Death
Within the first year of the victim’s death, only the surviving spouse can bring forth a wrongful death claim. If the surviving spouse provides a written notice, then they can file alongside the victim’s heirs or grant the heir permission to file on their own. However, if the victim has no surviving spouse, then heirs or their designated beneficiary can bring forth a claim.
Second Year After the Victim’s Death
Once the first year after the victim’s death has passed, the following parties may file a wrongful death claim:
- Spouse and heirs
- Designated beneficiary
If the deceased was a minor, then parents can file a wrongful death as long as it’s within the two-year statute of limitations. However, if the victim was an adult, their parents may only file a claim on their behalf if the deceased had no surviving spouse or children of their own.
Colorado does not allow aunts, uncles, cousins, or close friends to file on behalf of the deceased.
What’s the Difference Between Survival Action and Wrongful Death?
A survival action is similar to a wrongful death claim, but it comes with distinct differences. However, both survival action and wrongful death claims are brought against a party as a result of their loved one’s death.
While compensation in wrongful death cases is sought to compensate for the loss and suffering of the surviving loved one, that’s not the case in survival action cases. In survival action, the lawsuit is filed to recover compensation based on the victim’s pain and suffering before they died. A successful survival action requires proving that the victim survived for a time before dying from the accident or instance caused by the responsible party’s negligence.
In Colorado, the only individual permitted to file a survival action claim is the personal representative of the deceased. This person makes all the decisions regarding the lawsuit, including whether to accept a settlement or take the case to trial. If the deceased never named a personal representative, one is appointed by the probate court to handle the estate.
Another key difference in these cases is that non-economic damages are not recoverable in survival action claims. The most common types of damages awarded in a survival action claim consist of the following:
- Cost of medical treatment
- Lost wages for the period between the injury and death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Property damage
If compensation is recovered through a survival claim, it goes to the deceased estate. Compensation will be used according to Colorado’s probate law, which typically involves paying outstanding debts and estate expenses. The rest of the funds are distributed to the deceased's heirs according to the terms of their will or Colorado’s intestacy law if the deceased has no will.
Contact an Experienced Thornton Wrongful Death Lawyer
After losing a loved one, generally the last thing on your mind is figuring out the legal process. However, the sooner you speak with a personal injury attorney, the better. They can start to analyze the applicable law, gather evidence, devise an effective strategy, and ultimately help you hold the responsible party accountable and secure maximum compensation.
The wrongful death lawyers at Mintz Law Firm can evaluate your case and ensure that your rights are protected and that you get the fair treatment you deserve. We believe in helping victims and their families by providing them with exceptional legal services and representation that gives them one less thing to worry about. Learn more about how we can help you by reaching out through our online contact form or by calling (303) 462-2999 to schedule a consultation.