What is A Life Worth? Understanding Wrongful Death Damages
Losing a loved one because of another’s actions can be devastating. You not only have lost this beloved person’s companionship, but you may have also lost your means of financial support. In addition, you could be faced with medical bills and other debts your deceased family member left behind.
You never thought this would happen to you, but now you need a crash course in wrongful death recovery and what type of damages you are entitled to as a survivor and/or as the manager of the deceased’s estate.
While an experienced Denver personal injury attorney can help you understand the recovery that is likely in your particular case, the following offers a general explanation of wrongful death damages under Colorado law.
Overview of Wrongful Death Damages in Colorado
Close family members and those who were receiving financial support from the deceased victim can bring a wrongful death claim against a person responsible for causing the death of their loved one as a result of negligence, intentional wrongdoing or some other breach of legal duty.
Family members – including parents of minor children, spouses and children who lost their parents – and the representative of the estate may be able to recover economic damages from the defendant, including:
- Wages and other compensations that the deceased likely would have earned if they had lived
- Amounts compensating for the loss of benefits that would have been provided by the deceased
- Medical expenses, including hospital bills, emergency care, and expenses related to the deceased person’s final illness or injury
- Any funeral or burial expenses.
Family members can also recover non-economic damages for pain, suffering, grief, and loss of companionship.
While there is generally no limit on the amount of economic damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death action, there is a cap on non-economic damages.
Calculating Wrongful Death Non-Economic Damages Under Colorado Law
Under the Colorado Wrongful Death Act, the plaintiff in a case wrongful death damages can opt for a flat solatium award in lieu of non-economic damages. The award of $50,000 is adjusted for inflation as needed.
If a wrongful death plaintiff accepts the solatium award in lieu of non-economic damages, they need only prove liability and not the extent of their non-economic damages.
If the plaintiff does not accept the solatium award, they can sure for a higher amount of non-economic damages. Colorado law originally capped wrongful death non-economic damages at $250,000, but the limit has increased significantly over the years with adjustments for inflation.
How a Denver Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
Calculating the amounts of damages you can recover after the loss of a loved one depends on a number of factors. While determining non-economic damages is a more subjective matter, even properly calculating economic damages requires a knowledgeable advocate. An experienced Denver wrongful death attorney, often with the help of expert witnesses, will be able to calculate your damages and help you recover all the amounts you may be entitled to. Contact our office today.