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Colorado Wrongful Death Claims As They Relate to Workers’ Compensation

by  on  News & Resources

When an employee’s death is caused by the negligence, oversight or intentional action (or inaction) of another person or company, that employee’s family may be entitled to compensation and financial damages through a wrongful death claim.

Under workers’ compensation laws in Colorado, if a person’s death is caused by conditions under his or her employer’s control, a representative from the family’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

To be sure, there are a number of steps employers can take to make workplaces safer and prevent employee injuries and fatalities. Unfortunately, if these actions are not taken and if safety standards are not met, employees can get hurt or killed, even though the circumstances that cause the incident could have been prevented.

Colorado Laws
Colorado’s Wrongful Death Act was enacted in the late 1800s and has been updated several times over the years to include six new statutes. The goal of the Act is to protect people who are left with the financial and emotional fallout from a loved one’s death due to negligence.

In Colorado, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the date of the person’s death. If the plaintiff (the harmed or deceased individual) had a disability, or if the responsible party took steps to conceal their involvement, this timeframe can be extended.

Typically, after a person has been killed in a wrongful death scenario, a personal representative from the person’s estate will file a lawsuit. Any recoveries will be distributed through the person’s estate to his or her survivors and family members as expressed in the individual’s will. As part of the claim, the filing party has to prove that the deceased could have been saved and that the defendant caused his or her death through negligence or intentional actions.

Filing for Damages
Part of the state’s Wrongful Death Act includes C.R.S. 13-21-202, which covers the damages that can be collected in a wrongful death claim. Generally speaking, damages can be recovered as compensation for family members who have lost a relative.

In 2000, the Colorado General Assembly amended the Act to incorporate Section 203, which allows the recovery of punitive damages in cases where the defendant acted willfully or wantonly.

Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can include the following:

  • Economic damages: This covers medical bills, funds that would have been received by the deceased in the form of pension or retirement benefits, the deceased’s income that he would have earned had he lived and any funeral costs.
  • Non-economic damages: This covers the loss of companionship and emotional support that the surviving family members (spouse and minor children) would have had with the deceased and the pain and suffering caused by the person’s death.

At Levine Law, our Denver workers’ compensation attorneys represent anyone who has been injured as a result of his or her employer’s negligence, as well as families who have lost loved ones due to wrongful death caused by an employer or company. For more information regarding Colorado’s laws and wrongful death claims, contact Levine Law today.