Our Promise to YouHere’s the truth: The wrongful death lawsuit process can be painful. Not only are the victims’ families forced to dredge up traumatic events, but they also have to come to terms with the fact that their loved ones’ deaths could have been avoided. These are often more complicated—and almost always more emotional—than other types of cases. So here’s our promise to you: If you choose to partner with one of the experienced wrongful death attorneys at The Hermele Law Firm, you’ll be treated with the utmost compassion, courtesy and professionalism. You’ll never have to wonder about the status of your case because we’ll keep you updated every step of the way. And what’s more, we’ll fight for you like you’re our own family. When anyone in our community suffers an injustice, it affects us all. No matter the outcome of your case, you’ll never doubt that we did all we could, and that’s because we will—we’ll give your case 110 percent because that’s what you, and all victims of wrongful death, deserve.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?When someone dies as the direct result of another person’s negligent actions, their passing is considered a wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action designed to benefit the surviving family members of the wrongfully deceased. It is similar to the personal injury lawsuit that may have been filed if the victim had survived. Some people feel a lot of shame in filing a wrongful death lawsuit, like they’re benefiting from the passing of someone they loved greatly. They shouldn’t, though. The reality is that when someone who contributed financially to your family passes because of someone’s reckless actions, it’s your family that suffers. A wrongful death lawsuit can’t right what has happened—nothing can. However, it can do two very important things: 1) ensure that you don’t suffer financially and 2) hold the at-fault party accountable for their actions.
Types of Compensation You May Be Able to RecoverOne of the first things your wrongful death attorney will do is clearly identify the at-fault party, or in other words, who is responsible for the death of your loved one. After doing so, your attorney will help you calculate the losses their passing has left you with in order to determine a settlement amount.
Economic DamagesEconomic damages refer to financial losses. Examples include medical bills, lost wages, damaged property and more. Your lawyer may include the yearly income your deceased loved one would have made in this amount.
Non-Economic DamagesNon-economic damages refer to intangible losses, damages that you can’t calculate. For example, non-economic damages could include your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, love and companionship or emotional stress. An experienced wrongful death attorney will consider both economic and non-economic damages when calculating your settlement.
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim in ColoradoIf you’ve lost a family member in what you consider a wrongful death scenario, you may be wondering: How exactly do I prove a wrongful death case in Colorado? The first thing you need to do is determine eligibility.
Determining EligibilityIn the first year after a loved one’s death, only a surviving spouse may file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, in subsequent years, other surviving family members may pursue a claim. An experienced wrongful death attorney can make sure you are eligible to file a lawsuit before you waste precious time and energy.
Establishing NegligenceThe second essential step you must take before filing a wrongful death lawsuit is establishing negligent action. If your loved one died as a result of no one’s reckless actions, it’s no less tragic, but it does not warrant a lawsuit. In contrast, if your loved one died as a result of someone’s intentional or reckless actions, you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Case ProceduresIf your lawyer decides your case is valid, the lawsuit can begin. Although every case is different, most follow similar procedures. As a result, you can expect to go through the following steps during your case:
- Submit a notice to the defendant. This lets the defendant know that you are filing legal action against them. During this stage, your lawyer will continue to investigate and gather information.
- Explore negotiation. After the defendant receives their notice, they may request mediation or negotiation to avoid court. At this point, you have the opportunity to meet and explore whether or not you can come to an acceptable settlement outside of court.
- Start the discovery and pre-trial process. If negotiation is unsuccessful, your lawyer will begin litigation and file the official notice to the courts. Both parties can request information and evidence from each other and generally start to prepare for trial by finding witnesses and documentation. In this stage the judge will also be briefed to determine whether all of the elements of a wrongful death case are present.
- Go to trial. Lawyers for both sides will present all relevant information and evidence and make arguments on behalf of their clients. The judge or a jury will then determine the case’s outcome.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits: FAQsIf you’re thinking about filing a wrongful death claim, you’ve probably got a lot on your mind. You may be grieving and overwhelmed, unsure of how to get started. The best thing to do in these situations is to contact a wrongful death lawyer. In the meantime, read through the following section for answers to frequently asked questions.
Does Colorado limit the damages I can recover in a wrongful death claim?There is typically no limit on the amount of economic damages the plaintiff can receive, but Colorado does limit the amount of recoverable non-economic damages. Under the Colorado Wrongful Death Act, recoverable non-economic damages are capped at $571,870.
Can I recover punitive damages with a wrongful death action?In Colorado, punitive damages—damages meant to punish the defendant—are recoverable in certain circumstances. To receive them, a plaintiff must prove the defendant’s actions were accompanied by fraud, malice or willful and wanton conduct.
What is the statute of limitations for bringing a wrongful death action in Colorado?Under Colorado law, you have two years from the victim’s death to file a wrongful death claim.
Is my wrongful death settlement taxable?Typically, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not tax a wrongful death settlement because it is not considered income. However, it depends on the type of awards you receive. Compensatory awards are not typically taxed because they are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the loss of the victim. Punitive awards, on the other hand, may be subject to tax.
What is the difference between murder and wrongful death?Whereas a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action brought by the victim’s family, a murder lawsuit is a criminal case brought by the state. Murder is determined by intent, meaning the defendant purposefully killed the victim. Wrongful death cases can also be intentional, but they can also be caused by negligence or an accident.
Contact The Hermele Law FirmTaking any legal action can be daunting, but starting a wrongful death lawsuit can be especially challenging for the victim’s family. If you’re ready to file a wrongful death claim and protect your family’s future, not any lawyer will do. You need the best. At The Hermele Law Firm, our track record speaks for itself. We’re proud to offer the Denver community expert, compassionate representation in their time of need. You’ve been through a lot. Let us take it from here. Contact us online or give us a call at (720) 740-0889 to schedule your free consultation today.
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