Wrongful Death and Survival Actions
The loss of a family member is hard enough but if that loss was caused by the negligence, carelessness, criminal act, intentional tort, or neglect of another, the issues that a family is faced with in the aftermath can feel overwhelming. Wrongful death claims can arise from situations such as car collisions, defective products, unsafe premises, and work-place accidents. These are just a few examples of tragic situations that can leave families shaken and looking for answers. Travis Legal Services, LLC can help you find those answers.
Colorado's wrongful death laws allow recovery for damages after a family member has died as a result of the bad acts of others. Within the first year of a death, a wrongful death claim can be brought by the spouse (or the heirs with the spouse's consent); the heirs of the deceased (children); or the designated beneficiary. In the second year after a person's death, wrongful death actions can be brought by any of those parties. And should the deceased have no spouse and no children, then the parents of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim within two years (note that, if they are no longer together, they would each have an equal share in any damages recovered). Any wrongful death action must be filed within two (2) years of the death (also known as a statute of limitations). If you do not protect these claims within that time frame, the claim is considered to be lost and no person may bring a claim. Wrongful death claims are civil matters and can be pursued in addition to any criminal case actions which may be brought against the at-fault party by government officials.
Colorado laws provide for family members to recover for both economic and non-economic damages:
- Non-economic: These include damages such as "loss of consortium"/loss of companionship, pain and suffering, grief and sorrow, and (possibly punitive damages). There are limitations to the amount of non-economic damages a person can recover in Colorado (known as "caps");
- Economic: These include damages such as medical bills, lost insurance or retirement benefits, loss of services, funeral expenses, property damages and loss of earnings. There are no "caps" on economic damages;
Should a family member's death be the result of a 'felonious killing', there are no damage caps (but this would require the at-fault party to plead guilty, be convicted of or enter a no contest plea to 1st or 2nd degree murder or manslaughter).
In addition to a wrongful death claim, family members may be able to bring a survival action which is a case brought for damages suffered by the injured person before s/he passed (such as when a person does not die immediately). These claims allow the family to bring suits on behalf of their family member for causes of action that the injured person would have had if s/he had survived. It is possible to pursue both a survival action and wrongful death action together which would enable the family member to recover damages that the other individual claims might not otherwise allow.
Contacting an attorney with experience in wrongful death suits is the best way to deal with these complicated legal matters. Travis Legal Offices, LLC can guide you through the complexity of recovering compensation for the damages arising from the loss of a family member.
Contact Travis Legal Services, LLC for a free consultation regarding with any questions you might have on these types of claims.