Fort Collins Wrongful Death Lawyers
The legal team at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC understands financial compensation will bring little comfort to Colorado residents who have lost a family member as a result of a wrongful death, but we also know that the law offers remedies to provide some closure.
A Wrongful Death is Always Compensable
If another person’s negligence caused the death of your family member, this constitutes a wrongful death. Under Colorado law, only certain family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit, and that family member must be able to prove causation. A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against any person, business, organization, or government entity whose actions (either intentional or negligent) caused your family member’s death. If successful, a wrongful death lawsuit can result in significant compensation for the victim’s family.
Common Causes of a Wrongful Death
Regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding your family member’s death, the experienced attorneys of the Tenge Law Firm, LLC can help your family assess its options and seek compensation. We have represented numerous individuals in wrongful death cases, and our past success is representative of our hard work and experience.
Recently, we represented a young mother whose husband was tragically killed in a car crash in Northeast Colorado. Both the husband and the other driver were speeding excessively while driving down backcountry roads, which made this claim especially difficult. The other driver’s insurance company argued “comparative fault,” that our client’s husband was more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. Despite this argument, we were able to successfully resolve the case through litigation for the full amount of both insurance policies involved ($500,000 and $25,000).
The most common causes of a wrongful death include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Products liability
- Work-related accidents
- Criminal acts
- Occupational exposure and hazards
- Accidents that occur on someone else’s property as a result of the property owner’s negligence
- Supervised activities including day care, adult care, and field trips
- Abuse and/or neglect that occurs in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
Who Can Sue for a Wrongful Death?
Every state has its own laws regarding who may bring a wrongful death claim. Under Colorado law, only the surviving spouse of a deceased individual may initiate a wrongful death claim within the first year following the death. After one year, surviving children of the deceased individual are also permitted to file a claim. In the event the deceased individual does not have a surviving spouse or any surviving children, the individual’s parents are eligible to file a claim.
In addition to any claim filed by surviving family members, the representative of the deceased person’s estate may pursue a survival action claim to recover damages on behalf of the estate.
Under Colorado law, only the representative of a victim’s estate may file a survival action claim. If the victim did not select a legal representative prior to death, the court may appoint one.
The purpose of a survival action claim is to recover compensation for any losses the victim incurred from the date of injury to the date of death. Any monetary award secured as a result of a survival action claim must be paid directly to the victim’s estate.
Statute of Limitations
Under Colorado law, any wrongful death claim must be filed within two years from the date of the victim’s death. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can help ensure that you don’t miss important filing deadlines, and that your claim proceeds smoothly.
Wrongful Death Damages
In a wrongful death action, economic damages are awarded as compensation for financial expenses; while non-economic damages are awarded for personal and emotional suffering that has been incurred as a result of another person’s negligence. Calculating damages can be complicated, as there is no perfect way to determine the present and future value of emotional damage. Generally, economic factors used to calculate a damages award include:
- The age of the deceased person
- The deceased person’s prior health history
- The deceased person’s income at the time of death
- The educational background of the deceased person
- Any technical or specialized training that the deceased person had undergone
- Medical bills and expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of future benefits from pensions or insurance
Under Colorado law, a surviving family member or legal representative may be entitled to seek monetary damages from an at-fault party. These damages include, without limitation:
- The deceased person’s pain and suffering prior to death
- The deceased person’s medical expenses and costs
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of income expected over the deceased person’s lifetime
- Loss of any inheritance that the deceased person was entitled to at the time of death or in the future
- Loss of value of the services performed by the deceased person
- Loss of care, guidance, and nurturing to the family that the deceased person would have provided
- Loss of love, companionship, and consortium that the deceased person would have provided
Establishing a Wrongful Death Case
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil, rather than criminal, action, and thus the plaintiff in a wrongful death case enjoys a lower burden of proof than he or she would in other cases. The plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (rather than beyond a reasonable doubt) that the defendant’s actions caused the death of the plaintiff’s family member. To be eligible to seek compensation, the surviving family members must prove that:
- The deceased person would have lived but for the actions of the defendant; in other words, the defendant caused the deceased person’s death.
- Another party’s negligence caused the fatality.
- Significant and relevant evidence establishes causation by a preponderance of the evidence.
Now, More Than Ever, You Need Help
Wrongful death lawsuits require extensive preparation, convincing evidence, and experience dealing with unexpected events that occur at trial. Proving and defending a wrongful death claim can be difficult. Among other things, a plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit must establish:
- The deceased person’s expected life expectancy had they not been killed
- The amount of lost financial support as a result of the deceased person’s death
- The monetary value for lost companionship and comfort due to the deceased person’s death
The various steps involved in a wrongful death case are complex, and can confuse inexperienced plaintiffs. Individuals who have lost a loved one in a fatal accident need a zealous advocate to protect their legal rights, and to build a solid case for recovery. For over a quarter century, our experienced Fort Collins personal injury attorneys at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC have been helping individuals who have suffered the wrongful death of a family member recover from their suffering, and we are prepared to help you and your family as well.
If your family member has experienced a wrongful death, and you are unsure about the validity of your claim, call the Tenge Law Firm, LLC today at (970) 212-4777 or contact us online to request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Make sure to speak with one of our experienced attorneys soon, before the statute of limitations on your claim expires. Time may not be on your side, but we are.
“I could tell he had decades of experience in cases like mine, which gave me a lot of comfort during such a stressful time.”
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“I placed all my trust in them and was not disappointed! They settled my case for an amount I had never expected even in my wildest dreams.”
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