Families who lose loved ones in crashes need time to mourn their losses and find a way to move forward without their lost family members. However, only a certain amount of time exists after fatal motor vehicle accidents in which surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim. Here in Colorado, a claim must be filed within two years of the date of death. It does not take long after these travesties for the financial impact to begin, and if someone else was responsible for the death, restitution could be possible.
If a Colorado civil court finds that an individual's death was the result of negligence by one or more parties, both monetary and non-monetary damages could be awarded. Monetary damages would include the out-of-pocket costs associated with the family member's death such as medical and funeral expenses. Other financial losses such as medical insurance, retirement and an inheritance lost because of a premature death could also be sought.
Non-monetary damages are more of a challenge to quantify. These damages often relate to the relationship surviving family members lost when their loved one died such as companionship, consortium and love. In addition, there is the fact that the person will not be around to nurture, train and guide those left behind. The pain and suffering of surviving loved ones may also be sought. In some cases, punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendants, could be awarded if circumstances warrant that relief.
As is the case in all claims arising out of fatal motor vehicle accidents, proving that another party or parties were responsible for the death will require the presentation of relevant evidence to the court. That evidence often takes the form of police reports, medical records and accident reconstructions, along with any other documentation such as witness statements. The complexity of wrongful death claims necessitates the assistance and guidance of someone who handles these cases on a regular basis to provide the best chance of an outcome favorable to surviving family members.
Source: bsfdea.com, "Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations", Accessed on Dec. 11, 2016