Wrongful death is a terrible tragedy that will change your life forever. At The Fang Law Firm, our Lakewood wrongful death lawyers understand what you’re going through during this difficult time. We are here not only as legal advocates but to provide everything that your family needs – advice, answers, legal knowledge or just an ear to listen. Our attorneys are passionate about helping others and will not rest until we achieve justice on your loved one’s behalf.
Wrongful death, according to Colorado Revised Statute Section 13-21-201, is when any person dies from an injury arising from another person or party’s negligence, unskillfulness or criminal intent. If a person, company, employer or another entity caused the death of your loved one through a wrongful or careless act or omission, that party may be financially responsible (liable). This means that party may owe your family or the decedent’s estate compensation to cover related losses.
Wrongful death in Colorado can arise from many different types of preventable accidents or incidents in Lakewood. Any time someone fails to use an appropriate amount of care or knowingly attempts to injure someone, the outcome could be a victim’s avoidable death. Common circumstances that result in wrongful death claims are motor vehicle accidents, falls, premises accidents, workplace accidents, defective products, medical malpractice, acts of violence and crimes.
A wrongful death lawsuit is not the same as a criminal case against someone for causing the death of another person. Proving wrongful death does not require establishing intent to harm. Instead, it is enough to show that the victim was negligent or careless and that this caused the fatal injury. Negligence is the basis for most wrongful death lawsuits in Colorado. In civil law, negligence is the failure to act with the amount of care that a reasonably prudent person would in the same or similar circumstances. Negligence has four parts:
According to Colorado law, the parties that can lawfully file a wrongful death claim with the courts change according to how much time has passed from the date of death. In the first year following the death, only the surviving spouse can file a lawsuit unless he or she elects in writing to allow an adult child to file the claim instead.
In the second year, the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, or other eligible designated beneficiaries may file. These parties can file in the first year if the decedent was not married at the time of death. If none of these parties exist, the decedent’s parents may file the wrongful death action instead.
One of the main differences between a wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal case is that the former can result in a payout for surviving family members or the estate. While a criminal case against a defendant can result in jail time or other sentences, a wrongful death claim can lead to civil liability. A successful lawsuit could result in financial compensation for the following losses for eligible beneficiaries:
At The Fang Law Firm, our Lakewood wrongful death lawyers know that retrieving financial compensation is not the only reason families bring wrongful death claims in Colorado. Coming forward with a civil lawsuit can also deliver justice to the wrongfully killed and provide closure to grieving loved ones. Holding one or more parties accountable for a preventable loss of life can be a critical step in the coping process.
When a plaintiff brings a wrongful death cause of action, the burden of proof rests with him or her. The filing party must prove the grounds on which the claim is being filed. You or your wrongful death lawyer in Lakewood must present enough evidence to prove that the defendant is responsible for your loved one’s death with at least a 50 percent certainty. This is known as a preponderance of the evidence. An attorney can help you obtain sufficient proof of fault in your wrongful death case, such as:
If your wrongful death case does not arise from negligence but intent to harm, your lawyer may rely on evidence from a related criminal investigation or criminal case against the defendant. This evidence may include a police report, a police interrogation, forensic evidence, arrest records and a criminal conviction (if applicable). A lawyer can help you collect evidence and present it in a compelling way to an insurance company, judge or jury during your lawsuit.
You must obey all of the federal, state and local laws that are relevant to your case for a valid wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado. Otherwise, the defendant’s attorney can file a motion for case dismissal based on an administrative error or broken statute. While there are many laws that may apply to your case – including premises or product liability laws, depending on the type of lawsuit – three of the most notable are:
This is a legal deadline that you must obey – or else risk the courts refusing to hear your case. Statutes of limitations differ from state to state. In Colorado, the filing party has no more than two years from the date of the decedent’s death to bring a cause of action. There is an exception, however, for victims killed in hit-and-run vehicular homicides, in which the plaintiff has four years to file.
A damage cap is a maximum amount of money available by law in a civil case. Not all states have damage caps, as many have ruled them unconstitutional. Colorado, however, still has some caps in effect. For claims occurring between January 1, 2020, and January 1, 2022, the cap on noneconomic damages (e.g., pain and suffering) is $571,870. This cap will increase for claims filed on or after January 1, 2022. Note, however, that if a victim died due to felony manslaughter or murder, this damage cap is lifted.
These complicated laws are governed by Colorado’s rules of intestate succession. Generally, financial compensation is subject to distribution pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute Section 13-21-201(2),with special considerations for parents who are divorced or separated. Under this rule, the damages are distributed to heirs of the decedent in the same manner that real estate would be divided according to state law when a decedent does not have a will. Each case is carefully reviewed and decided individually.
You don’t have to be an expert in how these complex state laws might affect you and your family during a wrongful death case. The right Lakewood wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate these laws and protect your best interest along the way. A lawyer will help you avoid violating a rule and compromising your ability to recover financial compensation while you focus on healing.
If you believe that your family has grounds to file a wrongful death claim after tragically losing a loved one, the first step is to contact The Fang Law Firm. We will assign a Lakewood wrongful death attorney to your case and help you get through the steps that are required to file a lawsuit. We will make the claims filing process as simple, efficient and effective as possible. The Jefferson County civil courthouse has a specific process that an individual must follow to bring a cause of action. The steps include:
Keep in mind that if you don’t act quickly enough, Colorado’s statute of limitations can bar you from making a financial recovery. Consulting with a wrongful death lawyer right away after a fatal accident in Lakewood is the best way to protect your family’s right to collect financial compensation from one or more negligent parties. We will assist you with the steps it takes to file a claim, demand justice and negotiate for maximum compensation.
You can only find an accurate answer to this question by consulting with an attorney about the particulars of your specific case. Wrongful death lawsuit timelines vary too greatly to find an accurate estimate online. Some are resolved quickly, in a matter of months, with successful insurance settlements. Others take one, four or several years to be resolved by lengthy negotiations or wrongful death trials.
Factors that can affect the timeframe of a wrongful death suit include settlement vs. trial, the number of defendants, whether there is a liability dispute, and how long it takes to investigate the fatal incident. Working with legal professionals can allow you to resolve your case as quickly as possible without accepting an inadequate settlement.
Bringing a wrongful death claim is confusing and often stressful for grieving family members. The best way to manage your case and overcome associated challenges is with assistance from an attorney. An experienced wrongful death lawyer will understand Colorado’s laws, how they relate to your claim and how to pursue the best possible results for your case against any defendant. Your lawyer will work closely with you to achieve your case goals using proven and aggressive legal strategies. A wrongful death lawyer will also make sure that your family has everything that it needs to move forward after a traumatic and unexpected loss of life.
The Lakewood wrongful death attorneys at The Fang Law Firm are trusted legal advocates in our community. We have years of experience handling these delicate cases and are passionate about pursuing justice for our clients. Please contact us today to find out how we can assist your family with this type of claim during a free case review. Our attorneys will go above and beyond to meet your legal needs. We are here to help.