Denver Personal Injury Lawyers

The recognized leaders in personal injury law

Denver Wrongful Death Attorney

denver wrongful death attorney

There’s nothing more devastating than the unexpected loss of a loved one.

At Zaner Harden Law, LLP our Denver personal injury attorneys are committed to helping our clients in the wake of the unthinkable.

We know that you are overcome with loss, and we are here to help you through the legal aspects of your case so that you can find justice and financial support.

Contact us today at (720) 613-9706 to schedule a free consultation.

Our team handles injury cases and has years of experience representing clients in cases involving truck accidents, Denver car accidents, motorcycle injuries, Denver brain injury claims, slip and fall cases, and more.

What Colorado defines as wrongful death

Under Colorado Revised Statute §13-21-202, wrongful death is defined as the death of a person caused by a wrongful act or neglect of another person or corporation. This means that if your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s reckless, negligent, or intentional actions, it may be considered a wrongful death.

denver wrongful death attorney - Zaner Harden Law, LLP - 1610 Wynkoop Street Suite 120 Denver, CO 80202

Who can file a wrongful death claim in Colorado?

Colorado has special state laws regarding who can file a wrongful death claim. These laws not only specify who can file a claim against the at-fault parties but also when they can file. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The surviving spouse of the deceased person may file a wrongful death claim in the first two years from the date of the person’s death
  • The surviving children of the deceased person may file a wrongful death claim only in the second year after their parent’s death, even if the surviving spouse didn’t file an action
  • The surviving parents of the deceased person may file a wrongful death claim in the first two years after their child’s death
  • The representative of the deceased person’s estate may file a “survival action,” which can recover certain types of damages for the estate that aren’t recoverable through a wrongful death action

It’s very important to act quickly after your loved one’s death to make certain they get the justice they deserve and you get the compensation you need.

Wrongful death claims have special deadlines. Make sure you file on time

Most wrongful death cases in Colorado are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. This means you must file your claim within two years of the date of your loved one’s passing, or you’ll be unable to recover damages.

An exception applies to cases involving vehicular homicide where the at-fault driver fled the scene of the accident, which has a four-year deadline.

If you’re considering filing a wrongful death claim, it’s important to talk to an experienced Denver personal injury attorney as soon as possible about your case.

Your attorney will need ample time to investigate the accident and build a strong case on your behalf, so don’t wait until the statute of limitations is close to expiring before you reach out for help.

Potential damages you could claim

We lose so much when we lose a person that we love. But while most people are overcome with grief because of their lost dreams and their lost futures, it’s important to keep in mind the wide range of damages that occur when someone is taken from our lives unfairly and unexpectedly.

Economic damages

Some of the damages that you can seek in a wrongful death lawsuit include funeral and burial costs, medical bills from any hospital stays before the death, and loss of the deceased’s expected future income. These damages fall into what is known as economic damages and can help ease the financial burden of your loved one’s death.

Non-economic damages

The greatest losses in a wrongful death claim are often non-economic in nature, such as the loss of companionship, emotional pain and suffering, and mental anguish. Though these losses cannot be easily quantified, an experienced wrongful death attorney can help you accurately estimate the value of such damages.

Difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival action in Colorado

Colorado divides wrongful death cases into two categories: the wrongful death claim itself and the survival action.

The purpose of the wrongful death claim is to address the losses – financial, emotional, and otherwise – of the surviving family members. Losses included in the wrongful death claim include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical bills incurred between the injury and death
  • Emotional anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of wages
  • Loss of services on which the family depends (picking up children from school, etc.)

Survival actions, on the other hand, account for the victim’s losses that they incurred after the injury and before their death. Losses included in the survival action include:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damages

Who may be liable in your Denver wrongful death case

Wrongful death claims are based on the concept of liability. That is, someone must be legally responsible for the death of your loved one in order for you to seek compensation from them. Depending on the facts of the case, there could be more than one party liable.

At-fault drivers

Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common causes of wrongful death. If your loved one was killed in an auto accident, a reckless or negligent driver may be liable for their death.

Medical providers

Medical providers such as doctors, nurses, and hospitals may be held liable in cases where their negligence resulted in the death of a patient. This might include errors during surgery, misdiagnosis, or failure to properly treat an illness.

Criminal offenders

In cases where a criminal act resulted in the death of your loved one, the offender may be liable for wrongful death damages. This type of case is separate from any criminal charges brought against the offender and is handled in civil court.

Defective or dangerous product manufacturers

Product manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that their products are reasonably safe for use. If a defective product caused your loved one’s death, the manufacturer may be liable for negligence.

denver wrongful death lawyer

How wrongful death settlements are paid out

If your wrongful death claim is successful, the settlement proceeds will be divided between the surviving family in a predetermined manner.

Even if only one party, such as a spouse, files the wrongful death claim, the settlement may still be subject to division according to state law. This means that certain family members may be entitled to a share of the settlement, even if they weren’t involved in filing the claim.

Proceeds are most commonly divided when the deceased has both a surviving spouse and surviving children. The exact manner of division is based on Colorado’s inheritance laws. In some cases, such as when the deceased has children but no spouse, or parents but no spouse or children, the wrongful death settlement will be paid out entirely to those parties.

Common accidents resulting in wrongful death

In the U.S., unintentional injuries are one of the leading causes of death each year.

Wrongful death cases can take on many different forms–technically, any death that is caused by another party’s negligence or direct intention can be followed by a civil lawsuit. But some types of wrongful death cases are more common than others.

Traffic accident deaths

In 2021, traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high with 42,915 people losing their lives on the road. While some of these accidents didn’t involve negligence, a significant number are due to other parties, from other drivers to auto manufacturers, to trucking companies to mechanics to municipalities.

Medical malpractice deaths

It’s estimated that at least 250,000 people die each year in the U.S. due to medical mistakes and medical malpractice. Yet only a fraction of these deaths is followed by loved ones seeking settlements or filing lawsuits. Getting justice after a fatal medical mistake is one-way medical mistakes can be prevented in the future.

Dangerous and defective drug deaths

Even with FDA regulations, there are thousands of deaths due to defective drugs and negligent pharmaceutical companies. There are a number of class action lawsuits against companies that have broken the law by improperly selling and marketing dangerous drugs.

Accidental poisoning

Deaths by poisoning are more common than you might think. Accidental poisoning can be caused by anything from food contamination to carbon monoxide exposure to pharmaceuticals. The details of these accidents vary depending on the source, but they all share the same tragic outcome: death by exposure to a toxic substance.

Nursing home neglect and abuse

Our elder loved ones deserve the best care in their final years. Yet nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse are not only common but often deadly. These cases often involve falls, bedsores, medical restraints, assaults, and malnutrition.

Premises liability cases

If a deadly accident occurs on someone else’s property, and the accident should have or could have been prevented by the property owner, they may be liable for the death. Slip and fall accidents are just one subset of premises liability accidents, which could involve falling objects, assaults, drownings, or animal attacks.

Work accidents

On-the-job accidents happen every day, even with all state and federal regulations in place to keep workers safe. Some fatal work accidents occur because of worker negligence, but others are due to employers who are reckless or negligent–or simply cutting corners to increase profits.

Homicides and manslaughter

It’s important to note that if someone intentionally, or fatally harms a loved one, you can file a civil suit and collect wrongful death damages. This is a separate legal action from any criminal charge that may be filed.

Cost of hiring a wrongful death attorney in Denver

Your family is already undergoing immense emotional and psychological stress, so the last thing you need is additional worries about how to pay for representation. We understand the financial burden of a wrongful death case, and that’s why we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t have to pay for any legal services until we win your case.

We also offer free consultations so that you can get an understanding of what to expect before making any commitments. During this consultation, we’ll evaluate your case and offer an honest assessment of what it may cost to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

Our Denver wrongful death lawyers are here to help you and your family

Our team of experienced, thoughtful, and thorough Denver personal injury attorneys is here for you, from determining whether you have a wrongful death claim, to filing the claim, settling the case, or going to court.

Zaner Harden Law, LLP offers confidential, complimentary consultations for families who have lost loved ones. Call our offices in Denver, CO today to ask a question, find out more about our legal services, or schedule your meeting with a Colorado wrongful death attorney.

Visit Our Personal Injury Law Office in Denver, CO

Zaner Harden Law, LLP – Denver Office
1610 Wynkoop Street. Suite 120. Denver, CO. 80202
(720) 613-9706

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Where We Are

We are located across the street from Union Station in downtown Denver and offer validated parking for all our clients. We also have offices in Boulder and Colorado Springs.