When medical mistakes turns fatal, close relatives of the decedent may recover compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you have lost an immediate family member because of someone else’s careless or negligent acts, you may suffer significant financial losses in addition to the emotional pain that you feel. For example, you may have relied on the decedent’s income to get by. Although you may feel like the situation is overwhelming, it is possible to get compensation for your financial losses under Colorado law in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Although wrongful death lawsuits are filed in many situations where a person’s negligence led to the death of someone else (i.e. car accidents, workplace deaths, etc.), they are often filed following instances of medical malpractice. In such cases, the decedent died because the care provided by the physician or hospital did not meet the minimum standard of care. Common examples when this occurs are when physicians fail to timely provide the correct diagnosis, commit surgical errors, prescribe the wrong medication or make other fatal errors during the course of treatment.
Overview of lawsuit
Colorado statutes set the rules concerning wrongful death lawsuits in the state. Generally speaking, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed in any instance where someone died as a result of someone else’s neglect, carelessness or negligence. However, there are limitations on the right to file this type of lawsuit as well as the right to recover compensation.
In general, only the spouse of the deceased may file the lawsuit during the first year following the death of the decedent. However, other heirs of the decedent may join in the lawsuit, if the spouse consents in writing. In cases where the decedent is not married, his or her heirs (e.g. children) have the right to bring the lawsuit during this time. If the decedent did not have a spouse or other heirs, the parents may file a lawsuit. Once a year has passed since the decedent’s death, either the spouse or heirs have a right to file the lawsuit.
In Colorado, eligible parties may recover a variety of economic and noneconomic damages. However, noneconomic damages (e.g. pain and suffering) are capped. The type of damages that may be recovered include:
- Loss of income
- Medical bills, funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of services of decedent
- Pain and suffering (capped at $300,000)
- Emotional loss or loss of companionship (capped at $300,000)
- Punitive damages (in limited circumstances)
If a loved one has perished because of a physician’s negligence (or other careless acts), it is important to take quick action to protect your right to compensation. The experienced wrongful death attorneys at The Mahoney Law Firm, P.C. can launch an immediate investigation into the causes of your loved one’s death and work to hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence.
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