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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Colorado?

Posted on May 18, 2022 in

If you lose somebody that you love due to the negligent, intentional, or careless actions of another individual or entity, you should be able to recover compensation for your losses. In some states, only the estate of the deceased is allowed to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. However, in Colorado, surviving family members our responsible for filing these claims depending on their status as next of kin.

who can file wrongful death

What Colorado Law Says About Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

When we examine the law in this state regarding wrongful death claims (Colorado Revised Statutes §§ 13-21-201 through 13-21-204), we can see that a wrongful death is defined as any fatality caused by “a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another” individual or entity. Colorado law specifically states that a wrongful death claim can be filed in any case where the deceased individual would have been able to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party, had they lived.

Unfortunately, the actual filing of a wrongful death claim in Colorado is left to survivors of the deceased. In some states, only the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate is allowed to file a wrongful death claim in court. However, Colorado law determines that survivors, in a particular order, are responsible for filing these claims.

In the first year after a person’s death, the surviving spouse is the only person who can file a wrongful death claim, though there are some exceptions. During that first year, the surviving spouse can elect to allow the deceased individual’s children to file the claim or to join with the deceased individual’s children in filing the claim. If the deceased was unmarried, then the deceased’s children or designated beneficiary are responsible for filing the wrongful death claim.

In the second year after a person’s death, any of the following individuals are allowed to file a wrongful death claim:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Surviving children
  • Surviving spouse and children together
  • Eligible designated beneficiary and the deceased’s children

If the children of the deceased file a wrongful death claim, the surviving spouse and/or the designated beneficiary will have 90 days to join the lawsuit or lose out on the ability to recover compensation for their losses.

In the event the deceased individual was not married and had no children or no designated beneficiary, then the deceased’s parents are allowed to file a wrongful death claim in court.

Working With an Attorney

It is crucial to work with a skilled wrongful death lawyer in Denver if you have lost a loved one due to the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of another individual or entity. These claims can become incredibly complicated, and it can be challenging for the surviving family members to understand the exact steps to take. Any claim, regardless of who files, must be filed within two years from the death of the deceased, or every person will be unable to recover compensation. The exception to this is an individual who loses their life as a result of a hit-and-run vehicular homicide, which has a statute of limitation of four years from the date of death.