By: Patrick Collins
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Death: Types of Damages in Colorado Wrongful Death Cases
Losing a loved one is never easy, no matter the circumstances. However, if those circumstances could
have been prevented, it can make an already emotional time that much more difficult. Suppose
someone loses their life because of an intentional act or negligence of another person. In that case, a
wrongful death lawsuit might be warranted. At Patrick Collins Esq. LLC, we know that nothing can be
said or done to bring your family member back. However, we have the experience and resources
necessary to hold liable parties accountable for their actions.
What is Wrongful Death?
Under Colorado law, a wrongful death is one that arises from “wrongful act, neglect, or default of
another” person or party. The law allows the filing of a wrongful death claim if the decedent could have
filed a personal injury lawsuit had they survived. Since they are no longer here to file a personal injury
lawsuit, another party can file a wrongful death claim in Colorado on their behalf. Many different
situations can lead to a wrongful death claim, such as:
- Incidents arising from negligence such as an auto collision
- Medical malpractice
- Intentional acts such as crimes
Even if another party faces criminal charges for causing the circumstances leading to the death, they can
still be held liable in civil court. A criminal case and a civil case will run separately from each other,
although the outcome of a criminal case could impact that of a civil case.
However, criminal and civil cases are quite different. In a civil case, the other party’s liability is
represented with financial compensation, also known as damages. The court can order the liable party
to pay damages to the survivors of the deceased individual. In a criminal case, the court can order prison
time, fines, probation, and community service. It is also crucial to note that in a criminal case, the
prosecution must establish the accused person’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” On the other hand,
for a civil lawsuit, liability must be proven by a “preponderance of the evidence,” or in other words, it’s
more likely than not that they caused the death.
Recovering Damages in a Colorado Wrongful Death Case
In a wrongful death case, damages or losses are usually categorized as economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are paid to the deceased person’s family members or representatives to cover the expenses associated with their death. Potential economic damages awarded in Colorado wrongful death
- Wages and other income that the decedent would likely have earned if they had lived
- Benefits no longer available as a result of the death—for example, as life insurance
- Funeral and burial expenses
Since they are objective, economic damages aren’t limited or capped in Colorado’s wrongful death
Non-economic damages are subjective. They are meant to compensate the deceased individual’s family
for the intangible losses they incurred as a result of their loved one’s death. Non-economic damages can
compensate family members for their:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
While no two wrongful death cases are identical, these are commonly claimed in most wrongful death
cases. Like other states, Colorado has limits in place on the total damages that can be awarded in a
wrongful death suit. Non-economic damages in most wrongful death lawsuits are capped. However, this
amount is adjusted every two years. Suppose the wrongful death claim arises from a “felonious killing”
(first- or second-degree murder or manslaughter). In that case, there is no cap on non-economic
What is the Statute of Limitations for Colorado Wrongful Death Claim?
Most Colorado wrongful death claims need to be filed within two years of the date of the deceased’s
death. However, there would be an exception if the person died as a result of a hit-and-run incident. In
these cases, the family has four years from the date of the death to file a legal claim. It is crucial to note
that the statute of limitations does not begin running until the date of their death. If they were injured
and lived for a month and then passed away from their injuries, the past month of their life does not
count towards the statute of limitations.
Adhering to the statute of limitations is imperative. Allowing the statute of limitations to pass without
filing a wrongful death claim will make a potential wrongful death claim void.
Do You Have a Wrongful Death Claim?
If you have recently lost a loved one, please accept our deepest condolences. At Patrick Collins Esq. LLC,
we are here to support you as we fight for justice on behalf of your family member during this difficult
time. Contact our office today or call 719-622-1352 to schedule wrongful death consultation with Dr.
Patrick Collins, Esq. During this consultation, we will gather the details of your loved one’s passing and
determine your next best steps.