How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Colorado
Wrongful death lawsuits allow family members to receive compensation when a loved one was killed wrongfully.
There are many situations where you can bring a wrongful death suit, such as when a car accident has claimed a loved one or when a family member has died due to medical malpractice.
In this article, our attorneys explain how to file a wrongful death lawsuit so that you can receive compensation. If you have any questions, give us a call.
Identify if You Can File
According to Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-21-201, the spouse can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the first year after a loved one’s death. If there is no spouse, then the deceased’s children can file during this time.
During the second year after the death, both the surviving spouse and children can file a claim, along with a designated beneficiary. However, if none of them survive, then the statute empowers the parents of the deceased to file.
The estate’s personal representative can also file a survival action for certain compensation. They may do this immediately after death.
Analyze whether the Death Was Wrongful
The fact that your loved one died doesn’t mean you automatically can sue. Instead, Colorado law allows a wrongful death lawsuit when the death stems from negligence, reckless, or some other wrongful conduct. An intentional killing also qualifies.
We don’t expect many family members do know exactly how their loved one died, or whether the reason for death satisfies the wrongful death statute. Meet with an attorney who can go over the evidence and make a determination.
Meet Deadlines for Filing
Colorado’s statute of limitations sets the maximum amount of time that family members have to file a lawsuit in court. Under our state’s law, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within 2 years of your loved one’s death. So if your spouse died on July 1, 2019, you have until July 1, 2021, to file this lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, a judge will dismiss the case from court.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A lawsuit begins by filing something called a “complaint” in the appropriate court and then serving a copy of the complaint and other documents on the defendant. You cannot bring a lawsuit in any court.
Usually, you will sue in the district where the death occurred or where the defendant lives. If the defendant lives out of state, you might file in federal court.
The complaint should have certain information contained within it. When this information is lacking, a judge can dismiss the case and you’ll need to refile later. Meet with an attorney so that you file a correct complaint and serve a copy in the right way to the defendant. The law is very technical, and we don’t encourage people to handle their cases alone.
Speak to a Colorado Wrongful Death Attorney
In the aftermath of a loved one’s death, you need steady legal guidance. Denver Trial Lawyers ® has helped countless people in their hour of need. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation where we can discuss your case.