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Wrongful death, what legal options are available when a family member has been killed in a car crash?


When a person is killed through the negligence or intentional act of another, surviving family members may be able to recover damages through a wrongful death claim.

Under Colorado law, spouses have the exclusive right to assert a wrongful death claim within the first year after the death occurs.  During the second year after death, qualified heirs have equal standing with the surviving spouse to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

Qualified heirs are entitled to a share of the recovered damages even if they are not named plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Under Colorado law, the family of the deceased may seek damages for economic losses including funeral expenses and lost wages over the decedent's expectant work life. Plaintiffs may also recover noneconomic damages including compensation for loss of companionship, grief and sorrow. Economic damages are not capped under Colorado law, but noneconomic damages are subject to a maximum cap.

Although medical expenses are not recoverable in a wrongful death action, they are recoverable in a survival action.  A survival action is brought by the decedent's estate against the at-fault party to recover the economic damages that occurred between the date of the injury and the date of death.