The loss of a loved one can bring tremendous emotional pain as well as financial hardship to families in Thornton. Medical bills may arrive for months after your family member is gone, adding to the burden of funeral costs and other expenses. The deceased will no longer be able to provide the family with financial support, which can cause increased stress.
When the death of your loved one was caused by the negligence of another, family members suffering from the loss may be able to recover compensation to ease their financial burdens with the help of a skilled personal injury attorney. If you lost a loved one due to the recklessness or wrongdoing of another, a Thornton wrongful death lawyer could help you fight for the compensation to which you may be entitled.
Understanding Wrongful Death Law
In legal terms, a “wrongful death” is a death that would not have occurred if others had been acting responsibly. Colorado’s Wrongful Death Act, as defined by Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-21-202, allows certain individuals to file a lawsuit for a death “caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”
Some common examples of deaths for which wrongful death lawsuits are filed include those caused by drunk or reckless drivers, defective products, and medical malpractice, such as a doctor failing to diagnose an illness.
Wrongful death lawsuits must show evidence that one or more people or companies should be held liable for the death of the loved one. For the claim to be successful, the party filing the suit must clearly demonstrate that the negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing of another caused the death.
Essentially, a wrongful death lawsuit is a personal injury claim that the deceased person would have filed but is no longer able to do so.
Damages That May Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Suit
The Wrongful Death Act describes the types of monetary compensation, referred to as damages, that may be recovered in a wrongful death claim. In some cases, the award amount is limited by the law, and not all types of compensation are available in all situations.
The types of damages that may be available include compensation for:
- Past and future lost earnings of the deceased
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills
- Lost benefits including insurance
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship, assistance, care, or protection
In addition, if the death was caused by serious wrongdoing, a court may award punitive damages intended to punish the party at fault and deter similar wrongdoing in the future. A Thornton wrongful death lawyer could explain what types of damages are relevant to your case.
Limits on Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Colorado law limits the time that individuals have to file a claim and only allows certain individuals to file a claim based on their relationship with the deceased party. During the first year after death, if there is a surviving spouse, only that party may file a claim. After that time period, either a surviving spouse or children may file a suit.
If the deceased person did not have a living spouse or child, that person’s parents may file a suit. In absence of parents, the laws allow a “designated beneficiary” to file as well. In most cases, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of death.
Talk to a Thorton Wrongful Death Attorney
While a family is grieving over the loss of a loved one, it can be difficult to think about issues such as liability. However, because of the time limits on wrongful death lawsuits and financial impact the loss can have on a family, it is important not to delay too long.
When you work with a compassionate Thornton wrongful death lawyer, they could focus on collecting evidence and creating a legal strategy so that you can focus on doing what is necessary for your family. If a loved one in your family suffered a needless death due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, talk to a wrongful death attorney in Thorton to find out whether you are entitled to compensation.