Wrongful Death in Colorado: A Comprehensive Guide on What to Do After Tragedy Strikes

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The unimaginable has happened – you’ve experienced the wrongful death of a loved one, and you’re not sure how you’ll be able to proceed in the aftermath. While there is no way to ever make up for the loss you’re feeling, there is a path forward that allows you to recover financial damages you’re entitled to. 

By working with an experienced Colorado personal injury lawyer like Sandene Law, you can file a wrongful death claim against the negligent business or individual who is at fault. As you continue reading below, we will cover some of the most important details you need to know about filing a wrongful death claim in the state of Colorado. 

What Constitutes a “Wrongful Death”?

A wrongful death occurs when an individual dies due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another party, either an individual or a business entity. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim? And When?

In Colorado, only certain individuals can file a wrongful death claim, including the surviving spouse, the person’s heirs, or their parents, in that order. The order of priority is designed to support those who have the greatest dependence on the deceased individual. 

For the first year following the death, Colorado wrongful death laws give the surviving spouse the sole right to file their claim. If they were not married, the children have the right to file, and if there are no children, then the right goes to the deceased person’s parents at this time. 

Once the first year has passed, the deceased party’s heirs can file a wrongful death lawsuit, if they have not already joined the spouse’s claim. If there is no surviving spouse or heirs, the person’s parents can sue for wrongful death. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Colorado is two years, so any lawsuits will need to be filed within two years following the death. 

It’s also important to note that the deceased individual’s parents are only able to file a wrongful death suit if they do not have a surviving spouse or children. In addition, Colorado law does not give the person’s surviving siblings the right to file a wrongful death suit, unless they were named as a designated beneficiary of the deceased. 

Possible Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Case

There are a number of damages that you may be able to recover from a wrongful death case, including: 

  • Lost wages the deceased individual would have earned
  • Lost benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Medical bills
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Punitive damages

How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado

There are a number of steps involved in filing a wrongful death claim in the state, and having the assistance of a dedicated personal injury attorney can provide you with the expert guidance you need to navigate these trying times. While the specifics of each case may vary, here is a general outline of the steps you will need to take to file your claim. 

  1. Consult with an Attorney

First, schedule a consultation with a reputable Colorado personal injury firm that is experienced in handling wrongful death cases. You’ll want to provide details about the incident so they can offer you personalized advice on how you should proceed and the possibility of filing a wrongful death claim. 

  1. Determine Your Eligibility

Your attorney can help you determine your eligibility to file a claim, depending on the order or priority we discussed above. Depending on whether you’re the deceased individual’s spouse, children, or parents, your timeline for filing a wrongful death suit can vary, which an attorney can provide further clarity on. 

  1. Gathering of Evidence

Once you decide to pursue a wrongful death suit with the representation of an experienced attorney, they will help you begin to collect and preserve any relevant evidence to the incident. This may include an accident report, witness statements, medical records, and photographs to support your claim. 

  1. Calculating Damages

A crucial step that your attorney will assist you with is identifying and calculating the damages suffered as a result of the wrongful death. This may include both economic and non-economic damages, as we outlined earlier. 

  1. Filing the Complaint

Once they have built a solid case with sufficient evidence to back your claim, your attorney will help you file a wrongful death complaint in the appropriate Colorado court, often in the jurisdiction where the death occurred. The complaint outlines the details of the claim, the damages you’re seeking, and the legal basis for the claim. 

Your lawyer may then engage in settlement negotiations with the alleged at-fault party, which will often be through the insurance company that covers them. If the parties fail to reach a settlement, then your attorney may decide to take the case to trial and argue your claim in front of a judge or jury in order to continue fighting for fair compensation. 

Reach Out to Sandene Law for Assistance with Your Wrongful Death Claim

If you’ve experienced the death of a loved one after a devastating accident, first and foremost, the Sandene Law firm would like to extend you our heartfelt condolences. The aftermath of a wrongful death is devastating, and we hope to be your dedicated legal advocate to help you fight for the financial compensation you’re entitled to. 

When you’re ready to discuss the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s wrongful death, reach out to us for a free consultation so we can discuss your next steps.


What specific actions or behaviors qualify as causing a “wrongful death” under Colorado law?

To qualify as a “wrongful death” under Colorado law, the death must result from the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another party, be it an individual or a business entity. This could include a range of situations, from car accidents to medical malpractice, where the actions or inactions of another party directly led to the person’s death.

What is the hierarchy of individuals who are eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Colorado, and how does this priority order impact the filing process?

In Colorado, the eligibility to file a wrongful death claim follows a specific order, starting with the deceased’s surviving spouse in the first year following the death. If there is no spouse, the children can then file, followed by the parents if there are no children. This prioritization is designed to reflect the dependency on the deceased and ensure that those most affected by the loss have the first opportunity to seek justice and compensation.

What types of damages can be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit, and how are these damages quantified?

The damages available in a wrongful death case can be extensive, encompassing lost wages, lost benefits, medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium. Calculating these damages involves a detailed assessment of the deceased’s potential future earnings, contributions to the family, and the emotional impact of their absence on the surviving family members.

What is the process for collecting and presenting evidence to support a wrongful death claim in Colorado?

The process of filing a wrongful death claim involves several crucial steps, including gathering evidence like accident reports, medical records, and witness statements, which help establish the cause of death and the liability of the responsible party. This evidence forms the foundation of the claim, supporting the argument for the damages sought.

How does Sandene Law assist clients in navigating the wrongful death claim process, and what steps do they take to ensure their clients receive fair compensation?

Sandene Law plays a pivotal role in assisting clients with wrongful death claims. They offer expert guidance from the initial consultation through to the filing of the claim and, if necessary, representation in court. Their involvement includes determining eligibility, gathering and presenting evidence, calculating damages, and negotiating settlements or advocating in court, all aimed at securing the fair compensation their clients deserve following such a tragic loss. By providing this comprehensive support, Sandene Law helps to alleviate some of the burdens during what is undoubtedly a challenging time for the bereaved family.

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