If you have questions surrounding the damages in Denver wrongful death actions that you may be entitled to recover, know that a compassionate Denver lawyer can help you to become more informed in these and other aspects surrounding your case. Read on to learn more about how the different types of damages in Denver wrongful death actions could potentially affect your family’s compensation, as well as the ways a dedicated wrongful death attorney can make a difference in your life.
Damages as Defined by Denver Law
There are three types of damages that one can recover compensation for under Denver law. These include economic damages, non-economic damages, and physical impairment. Economic damages are damages in which an individual’s negligent actions result in the loss of money. Examples of this could include hospital expenses or bills for vehicle repair. Non-economic damages involve the injured party’s pain and suffering. These kinds of damages are very subjective, so they are going to change from case to case. What one individual considers to be a very terrible injury might not be the same for another. Physical impairment includes more permanent injuries to someone’s body, such as scarring or paralysis of one’s limbs.
Examples of Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Action
The types of damages an individual can recover in a wrongful death action include wages and other compensations that the deceased likely would have earned if they had lived, loss of benefits such as life insurance as a result of the death, loss of companionship of the deceased, and loss of consortium. The representative of the estate of the deceased may also seek damages for losses suffered by the estate including but not limited to medical expenses, hospital bills, emergency care, expenses related to the deceased person’s final illness or injury, and any funeral or burial expenses. Generally, there is no limit to the number of economic damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death action. However, know that there is a cap on non-economic damages.
How to Calculate Non-Economic Damages
Individuals can hire experts to determine what the non-economic damages are, as these types of damages are very subjective. In the State of Colorado, the Colorado Wrongful Death Act provides a flat solatium award of $50,000 dollars in lieu of non-economic damages. The award is adjusted for inflation just like the non-economic damages cap under Colorado Revised Statute Section. The adjusted solatium award is currently valued at $87,210.
If a wrongful death plaintiff accepts the solatium award in lieu of non-economic damages, they need only prove liability and not the extent of their non-economic damages. This means that an individual can take the solatium award by simply proving that the death resulted from the tortfeasor’s actions rather than paying experts for estimates of non-economic damages and gambling on a jury awarding compensation in excess of the adjusted solatium award. Non-economic damages for grief, sorrow, and loss of companionship are also recoverable, but those damages are limited by statute to an amount of $436,070.
How is the Loss of a Companionship Calculated?
The determination of the non-economic damages is generally quite subjective. It is imperative that an attorney show the connections between the deceased and the survivors, important factors include the closeness and duration of the relationships between the deceased and survivors.
In addition, to the testimony provided by surviving family members, an expert or numerous experts are needed to play a major part in connecting the dots and showing exactly what is lost because of the tortfeasor’s negligence.
Understanding the Role of an Expert
An expert will ask tough questions to highlight to the jury or the judge all the connections that normally would not come to light outside of a Wrongful Death case. An expert will let the other side see the side of deceased that no one else has ever seen. The expert should articulate the actions and feelings the deceased had with loved ones.
This is important because a lot of the non-economic damages are based on things that normally do not quantify, such as how much love someone has for another person. It becomes very difficult to prove that, and that’s why an expert and an attorney work together to show the trier of fact those things that matter.
Factors that Affect Compensation Calculation
When quantifying the loss of a loved one, the factors used to determine this amount include the health status of the deceased prior to death, life expectancy, career prospects, job history, and the propensity to provide financial support to those claiming their right to the estate or to the survival action.
Professional opinions are critical factors when calculating a persuasive statement on the loss of future income. Physicians, psychologists, economic loss analysts, vocational experts, accountants, and others are vital to assess the damages sustained by the surviving loved ones. These individuals examine numerous factors, including loss of future income, loss of future advancement opportunities, forfeited financial savings, loss of health insurance and other benefits, and more.
Role of an Experienced Injury Attorney
It is imperative to have multiple experts to discuss all the moving parts and layers that need to be peeled back to appropriately assess the type of damages to which a family is entitled. With the help of a reliable wrongful death lawyer on your side, you can be fully informed about all the damages in Denver wrongful death actions that you may be able to receive compensation from. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, reach out to a dedicated personal injury attorney today to gain an aggressive advocate for your compensation.