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Denver Wrongful Death Lawyer

If your loved one died due to the negligence of another, you are likely faced with grief, uncertainty, and financial distress. While no amount of money can ever replace a loved one, there are legal remedies to compensate you and your family for medical bills, funeral costs, and pain and suffering.

At Dormer Harpring, we are passionate about helping those affected by accidents and serious injuries. Our attorneys will stand beside you throughout the entire legal process and work tirelessly to achieve the outcome that is right for you. Your family is unlike any other family, and your legal goals are yours alone.

Call us today to schedule your complimentary consultation and learn about our personalized service and client-focused approach to legal representation.

A Denver Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

When you retain Dormer Harpring, our experienced wrongful death attorneys will begin building your claim against the party or parties responsible for the death of your loved one. A strong wrongful death claim is advantageous when negotiating a claim with insurance companies or trying a wrongful death lawsuit in court.

Our skilled Denver personal injury attorneys build your claim by:

  • Thoroughly investigating the cause of your loved one’s death
  • Gathering all relevant evidence surrounding the death
  • Reviewing any medical records with experts
  • Obtaining needed expert witness testimony

The attorneys you choose to build your wrongful death claim make all the difference in the success of that claim. At Dormer Harpring, we want to meet with you and listen to your story. If cost is a concern, we offer contingency fee arrangements meaning we only charge based on the amount we recover.

Denver Wrongful Death Lawyer Quick Links

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

The definition of wrongful death in Colorado is a death caused by the neglect, default or wrongful act of another person. Wrongful death claims are civil actions and are not part of the criminal justice system. Success in a wrongful death claim rests on the type and amount of evidence presented by the family filing the claim. The wrongful death process may involve several phases, such as:

  • Mediations
  • Demands
  • Settlement
  • Jury trial

A wrongful death attorney can guide your family through all of the phases of a civil claim, negotiating for a fair resolution on your behalf. Proving a wrongful death claim requires the family’s attorney to prove four legal elements:

  1. Negligence. The death occurred as a result of the careless or reckless actions of another. Negligence in personal injury law is carelessness that causes an injury or death to another person.
  2. Breach of duty. The responsible party owed the deceased a duty of care. A duty of care is a legal obligation to act responsibly and in a manner that a reasonable and prudent person would in the same circumstances. A breach of duty is any violation of this requirement.
  3. Causation. The negligent party breached this duty of care, and this breach caused the resulting wrongful death. Unlike in a criminal case, you do not need to prove the defendant intended to take the life of your loved one. Instead, you simply must show that the defendant’s negligence caused the fatal injury.
  4. Damages. Actual damages resulted, such as pain and suffering, added medical costs, loss of earnings, income, inheritance, or guidance.

As the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit, you must establish these elements as more likely to be true than not true. This is called a preponderance of the evidence. A Thornton wrongful death lawyer can help your family gather clear and convincing evidence to establish these elements and obtain a fair settlement award for your substantial losses.

What Evidence Can Be Used to Prove Wrongful Death?

 As the filing party in a wrongful death lawsuit, it is up to you or your lawyer to prove the grounds on which you are basing a claim. The evidence that you use to support your case should be compelling enough to convince the courts that your version of events – and not the defendant’s version – is the truth. An attorney from Dormer Harpring can immediately step in to preserve key evidence that may be useful in your case, such as:

  • A copy of the police or accident report
  • Video surveillance footage and photographs of the scene of the accident
  • The decedent’s medical records 
  • A coroner’s report
  • Accounts that eyewitnesses gave of the fatal accident
  • A criminal conviction against a defendant for intentionally or wantonly killing your loved one
  • Cell phone records
  • Accident reconstruction
  • Wrongful death expert testimony

 Our lawyers can file Letters of Preservation or request subpoenas to collect any and all evidence that is relevant to your wrongful death claim. Then, we can piece it together to present to a judge or jury using masterful storytelling. Our attorneys will paint a picture of your loved one’s life, death and the devastation that his or her passing has caused. We will make it clear to a jury that you deserve maximum financial compensation for your family’s unspeakable loss.

Wrongful Death vs. Criminal Case 

 Wrongful death is a civil tort, not a crime. If someone is found to be civilly liable for a death, he or she must pay beneficiaries financial damages. A criminal case for murder, homicide or vehicular manslaughter, on the other hand, aims to convict the defendant of a crime and punish him or her with a criminal sentence. There are a few differences between a wrongful death case and a criminal case in Denver:

  • Intent. Criminal cases generally require proof of intent, or evidence that the defendant knowingly and intentionally committed the crime in question. A civil wrongful death lawsuit does not require proof of intent. Instead, you can hold someone responsible even if he or she accidentally, carelessly, unintentionally or unwittingly puts your relative in danger.
  • Burden of proof. The burden of proof in a wrongful death claim is lower than in a criminal homicide case. Winning a criminal case requires proof that what is being asserted is true beyond a reasonable doubt. A wrongful death case, on the other hand, only requires proof with at least a 51 percent likelihood. This difference is because a criminal homicide case can put a defendant behind bars for life, while a wrongful death claim involves monetary penalties only.
  • Legal process. As a surviving family member of the decedent, you will be much less involved in a criminal case than a civil one. It is up to a prosecutor to bring criminal charges against the defendant, for example, and to meet the burden of proof – not you or your family. While you may be called upon to give a statement or testimony during a criminal case, your role will be much smaller than in a wrongful death lawsuit.

 If the person who is responsible for your loved one’s death faces criminal consequences for the same incident, the courts in Colorado may toll, or pause, your statute of limitations until the case ends. This can give you more time to file. If the defendant receives a criminal conviction for your loved one’s death, this does not automatically make him or her liable for wrongful death. However, you can use a conviction as evidence against the defendant.

Types of Wrongful Death Claims

There are several types of wrongful death claims. Wrongful death claims stem from medical malpractice, workplace accidents, and criminal violence. Some of the most common claims are the following:

  • Birth injuries
  • Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents
  • Nursing home abuse and neglect
  • Product defects
  • Premises accidents
  • Occupational hazards and chemical exposure

These are all types of cases that we accept at Dormer Harpring. Our lawyers have years of experience navigating these practice areas. We know exactly how to achieve your goals for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Colorado?

If you believe you have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit in Denver, find out if you are the correct person or party to file the legal claim. State law restricts the right to file to only certain surviving loved ones. The rules change according to how much time has passed since the decedent’s death:

  • A surviving spouse in the first year.
  • A surviving spouse or surviving children in the second year, or parents of the decedent if there is no spouse or child.
  • A personal representative of the estate, at any time.

Other family members, such as siblings, nieces, nephews and grandparents do not have the right to file wrongful death claims in Colorado. If the decedent had other beneficiaries that were financially dependent on the decedent at the time of death, they may be entitled to a percentage of any settlement won.

How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado

If you wish to file a wrongful death claim in Colorado, the most important thing to do is to act without delay. If you wait too long, you risk missing your statute of limitations or legal deadline to file. In Colorado, a wrongful death cause of action must be brought no later than two years from the date of the victim’s death. This deadline is in place to encourage prompt filing.

For the most part, if you miss your filing deadline, you will no longer have a valid wrongful death case under Colorado law. This is why it is critical to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney about your legal options as soon as possible. If an attorney believes your case has merit, he or she can help you file the necessary claims paperwork with the civil courthouse in your county. Your lawyer will also submit a notice of the impending legal action to the defendant.

The defendant will have a certain amount of time to respond to the claim. If the defendant accepts liability, the case will enter into negotiations, often via mediation or arbitration – two types of meetings where the parties can discuss the case and ideally reach a settlement. If the defendant denies liability or settlement negotiations fail, however, the case will have to go to court instead.

Compensation for Wrongful Death Claims

Damages in a wrongful death claim are to compensate a family for the pain and suffering experienced by their loved one before their death. Compensation is also to repay a family for any monetary expenditures and non-monetary losses they experience due to the death of their loved one.

Examples of wrongful death damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of support and services
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of consortium

The value of your wrongful death claim will depend on the circumstances, including your loved one’s income level and the amount of insurance available to cover your losses. no dollar amount could ever match the value of your loved one’s life. A compensatory award, however, could allow your family to pay the bills and find peace in greater financial stability during this devastating time.

Contact a Denver Wrongful Death Lawyer at Dormer Harpring Today

The right lawyer can increase your chances of obtaining full and fair compensation on behalf of yourself and your loved one. Learn more about wrongful death and filing a claim by calling the experienced legal counsel at Dormer Harpring. Do not hesitate, as Colorado places strict time limits on filing wrongful death claims (Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-21-203). If you need a Colorado personal injury lawyer, call us at (303) 747-4404 or fill out our convenient online contact form.