About Wrongful Death Law
Until late in the 19th Century, while wrongdoers could be held responsible to pay compensation to persons they may have injured, no one was held responsible in law to pay compensation for a person that they may have negligently killed. The coming of the railroads changed all that. As this great technology reached every corner of the country, persons were regularly killed through the negligence or wrongdoing of the railroad engineers and other employees, but the great railroads did not have to pay for their misconduct. Eventually, each state in the country adopted statutes which permitted claims to be brought by, or in the name of, persons who survived the deceased who was wrongfully killed. Each state’s statutes differ.
Colorado has its own wrongful death statutes, and you need a wrongful death attorney to assist with the interpretation of these laws. Within the first year after the death, the surviving spouse has the exclusive right to bring the wrongful death action. Within the second year after the death, the children or the spouse can bring the action. No probate estate need be opened in Colorado to bring a wrongful death action. It is brought by the individual surviving spouse or children of the deceased in their own names, for the benefit of all dependent heirs of the deceased.
Damages for wrongful death are both economic and non-economic. Economic damages are those damages which compensate the surviving dependents for what the deceased would have provided to them for support during the life expectancy of the deceased. These damages are unlimited, so long as there is proof of the amounts of support to be provided. Non-economic damages are those damages which compensate the survivors for their grief and loss of companionship. These damages are capped at $250,000 per death (in 1986 dollars, increased each year for cost of living).
The damages recovered in a wrongful death action are distributed according to the probate code for distribution of a deceased’s estate if he left no will. This means that the monies are divided by statute, not according to the relative degree of loss suffered by the survivor.
All cases for wrongful death in Colorado through attorneys must be settled, or a law suit filed, within two years of the date of the death or the claim will be forever barred. If the death was caused by a governmental agency or employee, written notice of the claim must be given within 180 days of the death, or the claim will be barred.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, please contact Sears & Associates, P.C. Our wrongful death lawyer team in Colorado will work to get the compensation necessary, and we will also protect your privacy. Our attorneys will work to protect your rights.