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What Constitutes Wrongful Death In Colorado?

Few situations are more emotionally charged than losing a loved one. But the pain is magnified when a loss could have been avoided if someone had taken reasonable care — whether behind the wheel, on a football field, or even while committing a criminal act. These are all examples of accidental or wrongful death.

While no amount of money can compensate for your loss, the attorneys of Purvis Thomson, LLP, can help you gain the restitution needed to pay expenses and move forward with your life.

What Constitutes Wrongful Death?

The underlying factor that distinguishes wrongful death is the wrongful act that led to it. The individuals who cause an accidental death do not typically intend harm, but their negligence leads to tragic results. Common examples of wrongful acts include the following:

  • A distracted driver drives into the oncoming lane of traffic, causing a fatal head-on collision.
  • A patient dies due to an improperly filled prescription — or a prescription drug with unanticipated side effects.
  • A senior citizen dies in a nursing home due to poor supervision.
  • A toddler dies after ingesting a small part that breaks off a dangerous toy.

Wrongful acts can also be criminal acts, even if murder is not the intent of the crime. While the perpetrator of a crime is subject to a criminal trial that can lead to imprisonment, he or she can also face wrongful death charges in civil court to help the family gain restitution for their loss.

It is important to understand that the two trials are separate and distinct. The results of one case do not affect the results of the other case — and juries use different standards when assessing the evidence. In a criminal trial, juries must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil trial, juries make their decisions based on preponderance of evidence.

Some Of Your Legal Options

No one wants to face legal issues after the loss of a loved one. But when a death occurs as the result of a negligent act of another party, immediate family members may have the right to pursue compensation for accidental or wrongful death. The lawyers at Purvis Thomson, LLP, have a successful track record winning these often-complex cases in Colorado.

Filing a lawsuit against the parties liable for an accidental death offers certain advantages over other legal options. Perhaps the most important advantage involves allowing a jury to determine the results.

Under Colorado law, you have only two years to file a wrongful or accidental death claim, so we encourage you to contact us as soon as you are able after a loved one dies due to the wrongful act of another party. During your initial consultation, we take the time to listen to the details before we assess all available legal options. We make sure you are well-informed of the advantages and disadvantages of each option so you can make critical decisions during a difficult time.

Specific Rules And Procedures

The laws governing survivor rights in wrongful death cases in Colorado stem from the Wrongful Death Act, which was enacted toward the end of the 19th century. Since that time, the law has undergone numerous amendments — but some of the basic rules for collecting noneconomic damages in wrongful death claims are as follows:

  • Who can file and when: Under Colorado law, survivors have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The purpose of the law is to provide immediate family members who were dependent on the deceased individual for support and address survivor needs based on priority. The surviving spouse has exclusive rights to file a lawsuit within the first year. If the spouse does not pursue a lawsuit during that time, both the spouse and children of the victim can file suit within the second year.
  • Number of suits permitted: Anyone filing a wrongful suit must do so as part of a single action.
  • Monetary limitations: The maximum noneconomic damages allowed for all individuals filing a wrongful death suit is just under $350,000 — split between all liable parties. This amount is an adjusted annuity to account for inflation.

It is important that survivors recognize the need to file a single wrongful death action against individuals responsible for the death of their loved one. Equally important, anyone filing suit should not wait until they are legally qualified to begin preparing their case.

Contact An Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer In Colorado

The success of your accidental death lawsuit and the size of your monetary recovery depend on the knowledge, skill and experience of the law firm you select. Contact the experienced accidental death lawyers at Purvis Thomson, LLP, in Denver and Boulder at 303-442-3366 or by the email web form.