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Colorado Medical Malpractice Attorney

Wrongful Death

Every State in the Union recognizes a tort as actionable for the cause of Wrongful Death. It is usually defined as "The taking of a human life as a consequence of the willful or negligent act of another person or persons." Wrongful death statutes, which are not uniform across the States, are often interpreted quite differently. A skilled wrongful death attorney can find the best interpretation of these statutes to insure the optimal outcome for a plaintiff. The basic idea underlying this body of law is to provide a financial means in support for bereaved widows and orphans and to insist on a strong incentive for individuals to behave responsibly with regard to the sanctity of the life of others. As opposed to criminal sanctions imposed in criminal courts, wrongful death actions are litigated in a civil jurisdiction under a unique set of procedures. A verdict of "not guilty" in a murder case would not necessarily immunize a defendant from a collateral tort action for wrongful death. This fact was amply demonstrated in the infamous O. J. Simpson case in California in which the defendant's "dream team" defense attorneys successfully avoided the criminal sanctions but were not able to evade the enormous award he was obligated to pay to the bereaved parties.

Wrongfuldeath liabilities can spring from a variety of circumstance. That liability attaches if the act which gave rise to it was either intentional or unintentional. For instance an individual who kills another in a street fight may not have intended to administer a fatal blow but the obvious intent to injure was nonetheless present. The negligence of drunken drivers who cause fatal traffic accidents is subject to this type of civil litigation. While there was no conscious intent to cause a fatal injury, the negligent use of an automobile while under the influence of alcohol nonetheless yielded the identical consequence. Industrial accidents resulting from negligence in adopting proper safety standards lend themselves to wrongful death tort suits and constitute a large percentage of such actions. Regardless of the source of the liability, two elements need obtain : there must be a fatality and the proximate cause of that fatality must have occurred as the result of an act or omission of another.

Wrongful death liabilities commonly are created by:

Who May Bring a Wrongful Death Action?

Most often an action for recovery of damages is brought by a bereaved marriage partner. Minor children who were dependent upon the deceased parent are entitled to recover. Adult children who are no longer dependent upon parental support are generally not entitled under most state statutes. Conversely, parents deprived of their children may sue. Some degree of financial dependency on the deceased may well qualify an individual including next of kin and even those unrelated by blood. The determination of proper standing with respect to next of kin or other types of dependents is often legally contentious and requires the expertise of a skilled wrongful death attorney to navigate these legal shoals. Life partners in same-sex living arrangements are vested of this remedy in many states. The determination as to proper standing must be establish in order to proceed and often times lends itself to contentious legal dispute requiring the services of a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney who is well versed in these statues .