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Grand Junction Wrongful Death Attorneys

What Is a "Wrongful Death" in Colorado?

Accidents can happen at any time, and we recognize that they are a part of life. But when a person is killed due to someone else’s negligence, we understandably want justice to be served.

Fortunately for citizens of Colorado, state law protects the families of wrongful death victims. But when left to insurance companies, a family may have a hard time getting fair compensation. Most insurance companies are less concerned with doing what’s right than they are with protecting their bottom line.

That’s where we can help. The tenacious legal team at Peters & Nolan, LLC, is dedicated to protecting victims and holding the negligent accountable. We’re not afraid to take on the biggest insurance firms. After a tragedy, the last thing you want to think about is going to court. Our compassionate Grand Junction wrongful death lawyers will advocate on your behalf, so you can concentrate on your family.

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What Qualifies for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When someone is killed in unnatural circumstances, whether due to an accident or an act of violence, Colorado law enforcement will open an investigation to determine if criminal charges are warranted. For instance, if a car crash caused the death, investigators will determine who caused the accident and whether laws were broken, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or reckless behavior.

Even if the investigation does lead to criminal charges, this does not mean the victim’s family will be compensated. Some criminal sentences do require a guilty person to pay fees to the family, but not always. That’s where a civil lawsuit comes in.

According to Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-21-202, "When the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another, and the act, neglect, or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, then, and in every such case, the person who or the corporation which would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable in an action for damages notwithstanding the death of the party injured."

To put it more plainly, the family of an accident victim has the right to be compensated if there was negligence involved.

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Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?

In Colorado, filing wrongful death claims can be very complicated. Only certain people are allowed to make a claim, and, depending on who you are, you may be restricted to certain periods of time. Your rights may be confusing, especially considering how painful it is to lose a loved one. That’s why you should have a thoughtful, experienced attorney on your side, to help walk you through the process.

Wrongful death claims must be filed within the statute of limitations, or within two years of the date of death. The timing also limits just who can and cannot file a claim. During the first year, only the spouse of the deceased, if they are alive, may file for wrongful death. If they are not alive, then the children of the deceased may file a claim. Otherwise, the children may only file a claim during the second year. If the deceased has no living spouse or children, then, and only then, their parents will be allowed to make a claim.

Outside of family, a representative of the deceased’s estate may also make a claim in order to recover any damages for losses to the estate. This is known as a “survival action”.

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Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death

While it can be very difficult to face the prospect of court proceedings after losing a loved one, it’s important to realize that time is not on your side. The sooner you consult a lawyer, the sooner he can start gathering evidence and building a case, and the better chances you’ll have of success. Also, civil actions such as a wrongful death lawsuit are subject to a statute of limitations in every state.

The statute of limitations involving wrongful death claims can be found in C.R.S. 13-21-204, 13-80-102(d), and 13-80-108(2). In the state of Colorado, a wrongful death action must be brought within two years of the date of death. However, there might be other provisions that can arise, and you should speak to an attorney to find out what’s required for your case.

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What Damages Can a Family Get?

In many cases, the insurance company representing the guilty party will come forward after the incident and offer a cash settlement. It might be tempting for the victim’s family to accept this offer, avoiding a drawn-out procedure. However, this amount will almost certainly be less than the amount you are entitled to.

C.R.S. 13-21-203(1)(a) states, “All damages accruing under section 13-21-202 shall be sued for and recovered by the same parties and the same manner as provided in section 13-21-202, and in every such action the jury may give such damages as they may deem fair and just, with reference to the necessary injury resulting from such death, including damages for non-economic loss or injury as defined in section 13-21-102.5 and subject to the limitations of this section and including within non-economic loss or injury damages for grief, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and emotional stress to the surviving parties who may be entitled to sue.”

In many instances, our wrongful death attorneys will be able to negotiate a fair sum without needing to go through a lengthy trial. But rest assured, if the insurance company is proving uncooperative, at Peters & Nolan, LLC, we have the resources and determination to see your case through.

It is important to know that there are caps on how much you can be compensated from a wrongful death claim. Economic damages are not limited at all, but non-economic damages are. The cap in question is dependent on the type of claim.

For example, pain and suffering have a general cap of $250,000 (adjusted for inflation) or, with convincing evidence that it’s necessary, a cap of $500,000 (adjusted for inflation). If the case involves medical negligence or malpractice, the general cap is increased to $300,000 (adjusted for inflation).

There is a caveat on economic damages not being capped. If the deceased did not have a spouse, children who are minors, or a dependent parent, then damages are capped at $250,000 (adjusted for inflation) or, with convincing evidence that it’s necessary, a cap of $500,000 (adjusted for inflation). This goes for both economic and non-economic.

If you lost a loved one due to the someone else’s negligence, we can help. No amount of money can fill the void of a loved one, but it can help your surviving family members. Our Grand Junction accident lawyers take wrongful death cases on a contingency basis, so you do not need to worry about paying attorney fees upfront - we only take payment if we recover compensation for you. Contact us today at (970) 243-4357 to schedule your free consultation.

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Call Peters & Nolan, LLC at 970-243-4357 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.

About Us

Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.

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