Damages in Colorado Springs Wrongful Death Actions

Damages are the harms that a person suffers because of the wrongful act of another. These are quantified as monetary compensation in state law.

A claimant may collect damages in Colorado Springs wrongful death actions for both economic and emotional losses. Economic damages are easily quantifiable monetary losses such as medical expenses incurred between the time of the accident and the person’s death, the deceased’s lost wages throughout their expected work life, and funeral expenses. Noneconomic damages are the more intangible types of emotional and mental losses, such as grief and loss of companionship.

However, it is important to note that state law places a cap or a limit on the amount of noneconomic damages a person can recover as a result of their loved one dying. There is no cap for economic damages.

There is an exception to the cap that applies when the death was a result of a felonious killing. If the killing is considered a first- or second-degree murder or manslaughter, the cap can be removed. Another type of damage recoverable as a result of a wrongful death claim is solatium. The claimant can choose this instead of the traditional noneconomic damages.

Solatium is a set amount that keeps adjusted for inflations. A person may want to seek this in situations that reduce the total amount of noneconomic damages, such as when the decedent was partially at fault for their death. It is vital to consult with a skilled attorney before making such a decision.

Who May Recover Damages in a Wrongful Death Action?

In Colorado Springs, the people who can recover damages in a wrongful death claim depends on their relationship decedent. Specifically, it depends on their marital status at the time of their death and whether they had children. If the person who died was married, then their spouse can bring a wrongful death action and pursue compensation. If that spouse elects not to bring a claim, then the decedent’s lineal descendants such as children and grandchildren can file lawsuit instead.

Brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles usually cannot bring these claims. The parents of a deceased person may be eligible to bring a wrongful death action if the decedent was an unmarried adult or a minor who had no children. It is important to remember that heirs defined in the wrongful death statute is not the same as heirs in other legal contexts.

Emotional Losses that Result in Damages

State law is set up to provide monetary compensation for a person’s grief over the loss of a loved one. It is hard to quantify how many dollars a person should receive in exchange for grief, but it is necessary because this feeling is powerful and should be compensated.

When a loved one dies because of another person’s carelessness, their surviving family members lose the love and affection of that person. State law establishes that family members can receive compensation in exchange for that loss of the person’s love and affection.

Loss of consortium can be defined as the loss of sexual relations with the decedent. If someone’s spouse passed away, they lose their sexual relationship with that person. Loss of consortium also can refer to other non-sexual intimacy and companionship.

An experienced Colorado Springs attorney could help claimants build their wrongful death action for damages by presenting evidence that shows how the loss of the loved one has affected their life, all the emotional trauma involved in the claim, and how local juries tend to award compensation for those kinds of harm.

Loss of Companionship

When a loved one dies, family members lose their companionship. They no longer experience all the benefits of this individual’s presence, so the law in Colorado Springs allows people to recover compensation for that loss of companionship.

When determining the value of lost companionship, a jury reviews the family dynamic, such as the existence of children and their ages. The jury also may consider the decedent’s contribution to the home and supporting the family.

Despite this, the loss of companionship is an extremely intangible, difficult concept to evaluate. Therefore, an attorney may have an expert discuss how a loss of companionship can negatively affect a claimant’s life.

What is Loss of Future Income?

Loss of future income is an educated estimate of what the deceased would have made if they had not died. For example, a car accident may cause the death of a 30-year-old woman. For this example, she was the owner of a small business and made $100,000 per year. Lawyers may look at her income trajectory, whether that amount was expected to increase or decrease, her education level, and the amount of time typical small business owners work. The result of that calculation would be her expected income.

Both sides in a wrongful death claim do their own calculations regarding the loss of income. The defense may try to make the calculation as low as possible to pay less in damages. At trial, juries do their own calculations based on the evidence presented. If the case is mediated, the mediator can do their own calculation if they believe that each side is presenting an unreasonable amount. These different calculations can mean a substantial difference in lost income compensation, so it is important to have an experienced attorney deal with the case.

How are Experts Important in Wrongful Death Claims?

Usually, an expert witness is used to help convince insurance companies or juries regarding the amount the decedent would make over time. Having experts is important because they have useful insight when quantifying loss of income, such as the present market value of a business, expected work life, how much a current company can be expected to grow in the future, and more. Experts also may be able to spot issues that may have arisen in a given business or a person’s income.

Loss of future income is an educated guess based on many different factors. Having a qualified expert who has experience and education can be invaluable to a wrongful death claim.

Contact a Colorado Springs Attorney to Discuss Damages in Wrongful Death Claims

When quantifying the loss of a loved one, it is necessary to look at both the economic and non-economic damages. Economic losses include medical expenses related to the fatal accident, loss of income, as well as other monetary costs. Noneconomic losses include loss of consortium, mentoring, parental responsibilities, companionship, and involvement in life.

These damages change depending on the claimant’s relationship to the deceased. Because these legal nuances can get complex, it is important to have a lawyer discuss damages in Colorado Springs wrongful death actions with you if you are filing this type of claim.