Wrongful Death Claims in Colorado

Jerry Bowman, Owner and Managing Attorney

Wrongful Death
February 25, 2024
Wrongful Death Claims in Colorado

In Colorado, wrongful death is defined as a death caused by “a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another” person or entity. A wrongful death claim can be brought in any situation where the person could have brought a personal injury claim had he or she survived. An action for wrongful death can be based upon negligence (such as a car accident), medical malpractice, or intentional acts (including crimes).

When Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado? 

In one year following the wrongful death, only the surviving spouse of a decedent may file a wrongful death claim. The surviving spouse may elect in writing to allow the decedent’s children to file a wrongful death claim in Colorado or join with the decedent’s children in filing a claim. 

If the decedent was not married, his or her children or designated beneficiary may bring the wrongful death lawsuit. After one full year, Colorado law opens up the possible claimants to allow the decedent’s surviving children to file a wrongful death claim without written authorization from the surviving spouse. In the event the decedent’s children file a wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving spouse and/or designated beneficiary has 90 days to join as a party. If the decedent was unmarried, and had no beneficiary or children, his or her parents may bring a wrongful death claim.

A woman sits on the site of the road crying

What Damages are Included in a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado? 

In Colorado, wrongful death damages are typically divided into two categories – economic and non-economic. 

Economic damages include:

  • Wages and other compensation the decedent would have likely earned;
  • Life insurance benefits lost as a result of the death; and
  • Funeral and burial expenses.

Non-economic damages include:

  • Pin and suffering;
  • Grief
  • Loss of the deceased person’s companionship;
  • Emotional distress.

Are There Limits to the Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado? 

In Colorado, the maximum amount of non-economic damages is $571,870. However, if the claim is based on a “felonious killing” (first- or second-degree manslaughter or murder), the cap on non-economic damages does not apply. There is no cap on economic damages in wrongful death claims.

Do Wrongful Death Claims Have a Statute of Limitations? 

The time in which you must file a lawsuit is known as the statute of limitations. The wrongful death statute of limitations typically begins on the date of the occurrence that is the subject of the lawsuit. In Colorado, most wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years after the decedent’s death. However, if the person died as the result of a hit-and-run vehicle homicide, the statute of limitations is four years.

A paper with the words wrongful death printed on it

Is There a Difference Between Wrongful Death and a Survival Action?

A wrongful death lawsuit is brought by the family of the decedent, while a survival action is brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate on behalf of the decedent. In addition, the damages permitted in each action are different, with the primary difference being that non-economic damages are not available in a survival action. It is, however, possible for both a wrongful death and a survival action to be brought at the same time.

Do I Need an Attorney to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado?

If you are considering filing a wrongful death claim in Colorado, it is a good idea to consult with a qualified and knowledgeable wrongful death attorneys. Wrongful death cases can be complicated, and the attorneys at Bowman Law can explain how the law might apply to your specific situation. 

Contact Bowman Law for your free consultation. Our lawyers handle wrongful death claims and a wide range of personal injury cases, including Motor Vehicle AccidentsBicycle AccidentsPedestrian AccidentsSlip & Fall Accidents, and Dog Bites & Attacks. We serve the entire Colorado Front Range including Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, as well as Arvada, Aurora, Broomfield, Commerce City, Lakewood, Littleton, Thornton, Westminster, Wheat Ridge.