Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims: Don’t Miss Your Chance for Justice

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After losing a loved one in an unexpected accident, the following days, months, and years will be filled with unimaginable loss, grief, and many questions about the circumstances surrounding their death. 

The unbearable weight of dealing with the wrongful death of a loved one can feel heavy, and filing a wrongful death suit gives you a way to secure rightful compensation for your loss. However, you don’t have an unlimited amount of time to file a wrongful death claim in Colorado, and there are a few other legal guidelines surrounding such claims that you’ll want to be aware of before you begin this process. 

With the help of a personal injury attorney like Sandene Law who is experienced with filing wrongful death claims in Colorado, you can receive expert legal guidance on how to proceed in such cases, and how much time you have to file your claim. Continue reading below as we walk you through some of the important things you should know about the wrongful death statute of limitations. 

How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Colorado, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years. This means that if more than two years have passed since the death of your loved one, and you have not yet filed a wrongful death claim, you will be unable to do so and recover any damages. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Colorado?

Though the overarching law surrounding wrongful death statute of limitations in Colorado is two years, there are some additional legal restrictions in place for who can file such a claim, and when. 

Under Colorado law, only certain individuals related to the deceased individual are able to file a wrongful death claim. The order or priority for filling such a claim is as follows: the person’s surviving spouse, their children, and then their parents. 

In the first year following the death, the deceased individual’s spouse has the sole right to file a claim. If there is no surviving spouse, then this right goes to the surviving children, or the surviving parents if there are no children. 

After the first year has passed after the death, the heirs of the deceased person can file a wrongful death lawsuit, if they did not join the surviving spouse’s claim already. If there are no surviving children or heirs to the deceased party, then the person’s parents have a right to file in the second year. The statute of limitations of two years still applies, so any lawsuits will need to be filed within the proper timeline in order to be considered.  

Keep in mind, that the deceased party’s siblings never have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit under Colorado Law, unless they have been named a designated beneficiary of the deceased.  

What Else Should I Know About Wrongful Death Cases?

Now that you have a better understanding of how long you have to file a wrongful death claim and which surviving family members can pursue such legal action, we’d like to provide you with a few other important details to understand about making wrongful death claims. 

Calculating Damages

Part of the preparation process for filing a wrongful death suit is calculating the amount of damages that you’re requesting. This can include both economic damages, like to cover funeral costs or medical bills, non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, and even punitive damages in some instances. 

Your attorney should assist you with these calculations, ensuring that you are requesting the maximum amount of compensation you’re entitled to. 

Proving Negligence

Be aware that wrongful death claims typically require you to prove that the death occurred as a result of negligence from an individual or business. This is a crucial aspect of wrongful death action, which your attorney should help you establish through thorough investigations and expert testimony. 

Settlement vs. Trial

You should understand that not every wrongful death claim will necessarily go to trial. In many cases, your attorney may be able to help you reach a settlement with the other party’s legal representatives outside of the courts. 

However, if your lawyer doesn’t feel like they’re able to reach a fair settlement through negotiations, they may take the case to trial to argue in front of a judge or jury. Even still, there are pros and cons to both settling and going to trial that your attorney should advise you on beforehand. 

File Your Wrongful Death Claim Today with Sandene Law

Though you have two years from the date of the death to file a wrongful death suit under Colorado law, these cases take time – sometimes up to a few years. So if you want to set this process in motion and have the best chance at receiving maximum compensation, you’ll want to file your claim as soon as possible. 

As more time passes after the incident, it becomes harder to track down witnesses, get accurate testimony, and recover certain evidence to support your claim. Thus, while the aftermath of such tragedies is extremely overwhelming, working with a top-tier Colorado wrongful death lawyer like Sandene Law takes the burden of filing the claim off your hands during trying times. 

The team at Sandene Law extends our heartfelt sympathy to you after experiencing the wrongful death of a loved one. Given our experience with such personal injury claims, we work diligently to help you recover the financial compensation you’re entitled to and take legal action against the at-fault party. If you want to better understand your legal rights after the wrongful death of a loved one, reach out today for your totally free consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only get paid when you do.

What specific steps must be taken to calculate the damages in a wrongful death claim, and how are these damages categorized?

To calculate damages in a wrongful death claim, the attorney will assess all the financial losses related to the death, such as medical expenses and funeral costs, alongside the deceased’s potential future earnings. Additionally, they will evaluate non-economic damages, which include the emotional pain and suffering of the family, loss of companionship, and any psychological impact due to the loss.

How does the process of proving negligence work in the context of a wrongful death claim, and what kind of evidence is typically required?

Proving negligence in a wrongful death case involves establishing that the defendant had a duty to the deceased, that they breached this duty, and that the breach directly caused the death. This typically requires collecting and presenting evidence such as eyewitness testimony, expert opinions, and relevant documents or reports that demonstrate the defendant’s failure to uphold their duty of care.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of settling a wrongful death claim out of court versus taking it to trial?

The choice between settling and going to trial depends on various factors. Settling can provide a quicker resolution and a guaranteed outcome, which can be appealing for families seeking closure. However, going to trial might result in a larger compensation award if the case is strong. Trials, though, are uncertain and can be lengthy and emotionally taxing for the families involved.

How does the passage of time affect the ability to gather evidence and witness testimony in wrongful death cases?

As time progresses, the difficulty in gathering solid evidence for a wrongful death claim increases. Witnesses’ memories can fade, making their testimonies less reliable, and physical evidence might be lost or degrade. Prompt action is crucial to preserve the integrity of the evidence and ensure a stronger case.

How does Sandene Law support clients throughout the wrongful death claim process, and what makes them uniquely qualified to handle these cases?

Sandene Law supports clients by handling the complexities of wrongful death claims, providing expertise in calculating damages, gathering evidence, and navigating the legal process. They offer guidance on whether to settle or go to trial, tailored to the specific circumstances of the case. Their focus on wrongful death claims means they have the specialized knowledge and experience to advocate effectively for their clients, aiming to secure the maximum possible compensation.

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