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Learn the difference between survival action and wrongful death claim in Colorado

Denver, CO – When you lose someone in a tragic accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit and get compensation for the damages you suffered. No amount of money can bring your loved one back, but at least it pays the bills and allows you to rebuild your lives without having to worry about financial issues. If you were recently bereaved, you may be wondering how to proceed with your claim and how much it may be worth. Only a skilled Denver wrongful death lawyer can answer such questions and you should talk to one before filing a claim.

What is the difference between wrongful death and survival claim? 

When you file a wrongful death claim you can seek damages for the suffering the death of your loved one caused you. 

A survival action refers to the financial damages a person incurred before he or she died. If your loved one was injured in an accident and spent weeks or months in hospital before passing, the defendant should pay for that. 

What kind of damages can you claim?

If you file a wrongful death claim in Colorado, you can claim economic damages, such as:

  • medical bills
  • loss of the loved one’s earnings or services
  • funeral and burial expenses

Non-economic damages are also known as pain and suffering damages. You can seek compensation for 

  • grief and sorrow
  • loss of consortium (for the spouse)
  • loss of protection, affection, and guidance (for the minor children)

Punitive damages are only rarely awarded. Your lawyers will have to prove the defendant acted with malice or complete indifference for the safety of other people.

In a survival action, you can recover damages for the financial losses concerning the period between the accident and your loved one’s death. You can seek compensation for the medical bills they had to pay as well as for their lost earning capacity. However, you cannot seek pain and suffering damages in a survival action. 

If your loved one spent a long time in the hospital prior to their death, your lawyers will probably advise you to file both a wrongful death claim and a survival action. They can be filed at the same time, but you need to understand who has the right to file each of them.

Who can file a wrongful death suit?

In Colorado, the spouse has priority when it comes to filing a wrongful death suit. The spouse has one year in which to file the claim. During the second year, the children have the right to file a claim or join their parent’s claim. If the deceased had no spouse or children, the parents are entitled to file the claim. In Colorado, siblings are not allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit even if the deceased had no spouse, children, or surviving parents. 

Who can file a survival action?

Under Colorado, it is the personal representative of the deceased who can file a survival action. Usually, the personal representative is nominated in a will. If the deceased did not prepare a will, the surviving relatives can decide among themselves who’s going to be the personal representative. If they cannot come to an agreement, the matter can be solved in family court. 

If someone you loved was recently killed in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer at the Bryan&Terrill law firm to help you with your claim.

Contact info:

Bryan & Terrill

333 W. Hampden Ave., #420B

Englewood, CO 80110

(720) 923-2333

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