Boulder Wrongful Death Attorney


boulder-wrongful-death-attorney
First Steps in a Wrongful Death Case
What is a wrongful death?
Who can bring a wrongful death claim?
What if the decedent is partially at fault?
What a wrongful death claim may cover
What are “Solatium Claims” and how can they be applied in a wrongful death claim?

There are rarely adequate words of explanation or comfort when a loved one passes on. And if their death is due to carelessness, negligence or disobedience of the law, family members often feel angry or numb. Perhaps you have lost a loved one as the result of injuries caused by a drunk driver or a vehicle collision, or an injury while on someone else’s property.

Whatever the cause of death, family members often feel confused about what to do next and where to turn to receive information regarding their rights.

People and organizations do, in fact, owe a legal duty of care to other people. When that duty is violated whether due to carelessness, negligence or other wrongdoing resulting in a death, the law allows the victim’s family to take legal action to seek compensation and support for their loss. While no amount of compensation can make up for the loss of a loved one, the law allows the family to seek compensation for a variety of damages, both economic and non-economic.

Compensation can address:

  • medical and hospital bills
  • loss of future wages and retirement benefits
  • pain and suffering of the victim
  • funeral expenses
  • loss of the affection and relationship of the domestic partner
  • out-of-pocket expenses


First Steps in a Wrongful Death Case

To ensure the dignity of your deceased loved one and protect your family financially, contact an experienced Boulder wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your situation in confidence and at length.

The pain of losing someone close to you can be debilitating, often making it more difficult to communicate with people. Unfortunately, the longer you wait to initiate potential legal action after someone’s death, the more complicated and challenging the legal case can become. Witnesses may forget what they saw. Evidence that could be helpful may disappear early on.

What is a wrongful death?

A wrongful death is an accidental death caused by the negligence of another person. Wrongful death cases handled by the Law Offices of Bartley A Costello Jr. include wrongful death caused by drunk and impaired drivers, reckless or careless drivers, large truck collisions, and wrongful deaths on another’s property.

Colorado’s wrongful death statutes are complex. C.R.S. § 13-21-201 et. seq. If someone you loved has passed away from injuries suffered from an auto accident or some other injury, it is important that you seek the counsel of an attorney early on. The statute of limitations for wrongful death in Colorado is generally TWO YEARS, but you will benefit from speaking with an attorney to confirm the correct choice and application of Colorado law for wrongful death claims. See: for example: C.R.S. § 13-21-204; C.R.S , §13-80-102 (d).

Who can bring a wrongful death claim?

Colorado’s Wrongful Death statute is intended to compensate family members for certain losses that result from the death of a family member and are specifically defined in the statute. The term ‘family members’ (heirs) who can legally make a claim for wrongful death are also specifically defined in the law. For example, in Colorado, the surviving spouse has the exclusive right to bring a wrongful death claim within the first year following the death of his or her spouse. After the first year the surviving spouse, as well as any children, has the right to bring a claim. If there is no surviving spouse or children, then the parents of the deceased may bring a wrongful death claim.

As mentioned a decedent’s spouse, children, and parents can be wrongful death claimants at certain times, but brothers and sisters cannot bring a wrongful death claim. C.R.S. § 13-21-201 (c)(I). Again, this statute has legal twists and turns, and modern family structure can be complicated at times, so consult a qualified wrongful death attorney like Bart Costello.

What if the decedent is partially at fault?

The Wrongful Death Statute generally requires that the person(s) who caused the death be found to be more than 50% at fault. The law also requires a reduction in the damages by the decedent’s percentage of negligence. For example, if the decedent was found to be 25% at fault, the damages awarded would be reduced by 25%. A finding of negligence by the decedent of 50%, or more, will result in the loss of the wrongful death claim.

What a wrongful death claim may cover

Damages may be recovered that include the lost wages and retirement benefits of the deceased. For example a widow could seek to recover the financial support she would likely have received if her husband had lived. Other damages might include medical bills and funeral expenses. Other, more general damages might include loss of companionship, comfort, assistance, care, and emotional pain resulting from the spouse’s death.

In any case, you will likely want assistance to understand how to legally obtain compensation for a wrongful death from an attorney experienced in the relatively complicated law involved in wrongful death cases.

What are “Solatium Claims” and how can they be applied in a wrongful death claim?

A special type of wrongful death claim is called “solatium” and has two advantages. It doesn’t require that the decedent prove economic or non-economic losses. And if the decedent’s fault is found to be less than 50% there is no reduction in the statutorily- defined payment of $87,210 (as of 2015). If the decedent is found to be 50% or more at fault then there is no payment to the claimant(s).

The Law Office of Bartley A Costello Jr. is here to help you and your family navigate the often complicated legal world of wrongful death claims. If you have any questions about wrongful deaths cases, contact our Boulder wrongful death attorney today.