Wrongful Death in Car Accidents: Proving Negligence and Liability

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If your loved one was the victim of a fatal motor vehicle accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you must deal with the inexplicable pain, suffering, and uncertainty that arise in the aftermath of the tragedy. 

To seek compensation for the financial losses you’ve incurred like hospital bills, lost wages, or funeral costs, or non-economic damages like loss of companionship, you may consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver. However, your ability to recover damages will hinge on proving the negligence or intentional misconduct of the other driver, which an experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you accomplish. 

As you continue reading below, we’ll discuss when you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim after a fatal car crash and how you can prove liability to seek the compensation you deserve. 

Is There Wrongful Death in Every Fatal Car Crash?

Put simply, not every fatal car crash is eligible for a wrongful death suit. While tragic, some fatal car accidents cannot be attributed to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional act of just one driver. In other words, the fault for the crash may not clearly point to the actions of one driver. 

There are a number of elements that must be present in order to establish a wrongful death case after a fatal car crash, which we will discuss in further detail below. 

Common Motor Vehicle Accidents Resulting in Wrongful Death

Though not every fatal car crash results in a wrongful death claim, here are some of the common types of motor vehicle wrecks associated with such claims. 

  • Pedestrian deaths
  • Distracted driving/texting while driving
  • Impaired driving/driving under the influence
  • Speeding
  • Driving without a valid license
  • Failing to obey traffic signals/running a red light

Elements of a Wrongful Death Case

Surviving family members may be eligible to pursue a wrongful death case after their loved one has been killed in a motor vehicle crash. In order to sue the at-fault driver, you and your lawyers must establish proof of liability, including the following elements of a wrongful death claim

  • Evidence that a fatal accident occurred
  • Proving the other driver owed a duty of care to the deceased party
  • Proving the other driver breached this duty of care
  • Proving the breached duty of care directly caused the fatal accident
  • Showing the surviving family members have suffered emotionally/financially as a result of the death

Meeting the above requirements is necessary to bring a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. However, surviving family members should also be aware of the wrongful death statute of limitations in Colorado, which gives surviving spouses, children, and parents in certain cases two years after the death to file a claim. 

Colorado law also places certain regulations around who can file a wrongful death claim, and when. These guidelines can be complex and tricky to understand, but working with a dedicated attorney can help you understand your eligibility for filing a wrongful death claim after your loved one has been killed in a car crash. 

Understanding Drivers’ Duty of Care

One of the key elements in proving liability after a fatal car accident is based on the duty of care that all drivers must uphold. Put differently, drivers have a duty of care to other motorists for obeying traffic laws, driving responsibly, and exercising reasonable caution to prevent harm to pedestrians or other drivers. 

A breach of this duty of care through negligence or intentional misconduct that results in a fatal car crash may make the driver liable for the wrongful death of the other motorist. 

A common myth of wrongful death lawsuits is that only intentional acts resulting in death can result in a lawsuit. However, drivers can breach their duty of care and cause fatal accidents from a number of actions, even if they didn’t have the intention to cause harm. 

Sandene Law: Your Denver Wrongful Death Lawyer

Making a car accident wrongful death claim can be complex and intimidating for those who are not legal experts. As you navigate the grieving process and emotional toll of dealing with the sudden and tragic passing of a loved one, the last thing you have the energy and time to focus on is the liability requirements of establishing a wrongful death claim. 

By working with an experienced and trusted personal injury lawyer like Sandene Law, you can feel confident that your case is in good hands, and that you’re receiving personalized legal advice from a team that is looking out for your best interests above anything else. 

We offer our sincere condolences for your loss and can’t imagine the pain and grief you are enduring at this trying time. As your dedicated legal advocate, we will help you fight for the compensation you are entitled to. 

If you have any questions about your eligibility for filing a wrongful death claim and what the best next steps are, contact us today for a free consultation.


What are the specific criteria or circumstances that determine whether a fatal car crash qualifies for a wrongful death lawsuit, beyond just negligence or intentional misconduct?

Whether a fatal car crash qualifies for a wrongful death lawsuit depends on specific circumstances beyond just negligence or intentional misconduct. These circumstances might include factors like the actions of both drivers involved, road conditions, and other contributing factors.

Are there any exceptions or nuances in Colorado law regarding wrongful death claims after a fatal car accident that could affect eligibility or the statute of limitations?

Colorado law may have exceptions or specific rules regarding wrongful death claims after a fatal car accident. These rules could affect who can file a claim, the timeframe within which it must be filed (statute of limitations), and other legal aspects that need to be considered.

How does the process of proving emotional and financial suffering as a result of the death typically unfold in a wrongful death case?

Proving emotional and financial suffering as a result of a death typically involves gathering evidence such as medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs, and testimonies from family members. This evidence helps demonstrate the impact of the loss on the surviving family members.

Can factors like road conditions or weather play a role in establishing liability in a wrongful death claim, especially if they contributed to the accident?

Road conditions or weather could play a role in establishing liability in a wrongful death claim if they contributed to the accident. For example, if poor road maintenance led to hazardous conditions that caused the crash, it could affect liability.

What are the potential challenges or obstacles that might arise during the legal process of pursuing a wrongful death claim, and how does having an experienced lawyer mitigate these challenges?

Pursuing a wrongful death claim may face challenges such as gathering evidence, dealing with insurance companies, and navigating legal procedures. Having an experienced lawyer can help navigate these challenges by providing guidance, representation, and ensuring all legal requirements are met.

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