Key Elements of a Strong Wrongful Death Case

Table of Contents

Filing a wrongful death claim after your loved one has died at the hands of a negligent individual or business owner can help you recover the compensation you’re entitled to. However, building a strong wrongful death case hinges on a few key factors that your personal injury lawyer can help you address. 

In Colorado, surviving family members are able to file a wrongful death suit to recover compensation for economic damages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. Thus, working with a qualified personal injury attorney like the team at Sandene Law can help you navigate the uncertainty of this process and ensure you have all the key elements of a strong wrongful death case. 

Know Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim

The first element you should be aware of is who has the right to file a wrongful death claim, and when. 

In Colorado, surviving family members like spouses, children, and parents have the right to file a wrongful death claim at certain times. For the first year after the death, the surviving spouse has the sole right to file. After the first year has passed, the individual’s surviving children can file a wrongful death suit. 

Parents of the deceased individual have the right to file if the person was not married at the time of their death, and have no heirs. Any other family members like siblings, aunts, uncles, or close friends do not have the right to file a wrongful death claim under Colorado law. 

Establishing Duty of Care 

To make a wrongful death claim, you must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased individual and that a breach of this duty was a direct cause of the individual’s death. 

In other words, you need to demonstrate that the defendant’s negligence or intentional action breached the duty of care which ultimately resulted in death. Some acts and incidents that are commonly linked to wrongful death lawsuits include: 

  • Medical malpractice
  • Reckless driving/car accident
  • Defective products
  • Slip and falls
  • Assault and battery

For instance, drivers have a duty of care to other drivers on the road that they will drive responsibly, obey traffic laws, and exercise reasonable caution to prevent harm to other drivers or pedestrians. Negligent actions like driving under the influence can breach this duty of care, making them liable should their actions result in another person’s death. 

Some deaths are caused by intentional acts, not negligence, though fatalities resulting from such actions can still be considered wrongful death. If someone intentionally assaults an individual and they end up with a fatal injury, the person can be sued for wrongful death, alongside a likely criminal case.

Gathering Evidence

The plaintiff and their lawyer must provide sufficient evidence that the individual’s death was caused by the defendant’s negligence. Thus, a major part of building a strong wrongful death case is gathering evidence to support the claim. 

Eyewitness accounts, expert testimony, medical records, autopsy, accident reports, and any other documentation can be used to strengthen a wrongful death claim. A good personal injury lawyer will work with you to gather compelling evidence and meet with experts who can back up your claim. 

Calculating Damages

After you have established the duty of care and gathered evidence to prove that the defendant’s negligence or wrongful action resulted in the death of your loved one, you must determine the economic and non-economic damages their death has caused you. 

First, establish the financial impact that their loss has had on you and your family. In many cases, this involves calculating the economic damages resulting from lost income, medical expenses, hospital bills, funeral expenses, and other related financial losses. 

You are not just limited to the financial damages you’ve incurred directly. You can also include non-economic damages in your wrongful death claim, addressing things like pain and suffering, loss of companionship, or emotional distress that you’ve experienced following your loved one’s wrongful death. 

While this step can seem intimidating, an experienced personal injury lawyer will greatly assist you with this. They can help you understand the various damages you are entitled to and provide sufficient evidence to back up the amount you’re requesting. 

Understand the Statute of Limitations

Under Colorado state laws, the statute of limitations to sue for wrongful death is just two years after the person dies. This is an important factor to keep in mind, as no damages can be sought after this time period has passed. Because of this wrongful death statute, it’s recommended to file your claim with a personal injury lawyer as soon as you’re able. 

Speak with a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney

Fulfilling all the legal requirements to prove the defendant breached their duty of care and caused the death of your loved one is extremely intimidating. As you’re mourning the tragic death of a loved one, the last thing you need is to add one more responsibility to your plate. However, the above elements are essential if you want to recover the damages you’re entitled to. 

That’s why working with a dedicated wrongful death attorney and legal expert like Sandene Law can be such an invaluable resource as you navigate through these trying times. At Sandene Law, we have over a decade of experience handling such cases. We have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of Colorado wrongful death laws, and a successful track record with clients to prove it. 

If you’re considering filing a wrongful death claim in Colorado, but you’re unsure of where to turn for assistance, we want to help. Reach out today for a free consultation so we can review the details of your case and provide you with expert legal advice on how to best proceed.


What constitutes a “duty of care” in the context of a wrongful death claim, and how can it vary across different scenarios?

In the context of a wrongful death claim, a “duty of care” refers to the obligation of an individual or entity to act in a manner that prevents harm to others. This duty varies depending on the relationship and situation. For example, a driver has a duty to follow traffic laws to avoid causing accidents, while a doctor must adhere to medical standards to ensure patient safety.

How does the process of gathering evidence differ in cases of negligence compared to intentional acts leading to wrongful death?

When gathering evidence for negligence versus intentional acts in wrongful death cases, the approach can differ significantly. In negligence cases, evidence might include demonstrating a failure to adhere to expected standards, like traffic surveillance for a reckless driving incident. For intentional acts, the evidence could focus on proving the intent and the act itself, possibly including witness testimonies or forensic evidence.

What specific types of economic and non-economic damages can be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado?

In Colorado, claimants in wrongful death lawsuits can seek compensation for various economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include tangible losses like medical expenses and lost income, while non-economic damages cover intangible losses such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, or emotional distress.

How is the amount of compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering calculated in these cases?

The calculation of compensation for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, often involves assessing the impact of the loss on the survivors’ lives. This assessment can be subjective and might consider factors like the severity of the emotional trauma and the relationship with the deceased.

What are the steps and considerations involved in proving that the defendant’s breach of duty directly resulted in the deceased individual’s death?

Proving that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the deceased individual’s death involves establishing a clear link between the action or inaction of the defendant and the fatal outcome. This process typically requires a thorough collection of evidence, expert testimonies, and a detailed demonstration of how the breach of duty led to the wrongful death, aligning with legal standards to establish causation

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