2016 Colorado Revised Statutes
Title 13 - Courts and Court Procedure
Damages and Limitations on Actions
Article 21 - Damages
Part 2 - Damages for Death by Negligence
§ 13-21-201. Damages for death
(1) When any person dies from any injury resulting from or occasioned by the negligence, unskillfulness, or criminal intent of any officer, agent, servant, or employee while running, conducting, or managing any locomotive, car, or train of cars, or of any driver of any coach or other conveyance operated for the purpose of carrying either freight or passengers for hire while in charge of the same as a driver, and when any passenger dies from an injury resulting from or occasioned by any defect or insufficiency in any railroad or any part thereof, or in any locomotive or car, or other conveyance operated for the purpose of carrying either freight or passengers for hire, the corporation or individuals in whose employ any such officer, agent, servant, employee, master, pilot, engineer, or driver is at the time such injury is committed, or who owns any such railroad, locomotive, car, or other conveyance operated for the purpose of carrying either freight or passengers for hire at the time any such injury is received, and resulting from or occasioned by the defect or insufficiency above described shall forfeit and pay for every person and passenger so injured the sum of not exceeding ten thousand dollars and not less than three thousand dollars, which may be sued for and recovered:
(a) In the first year after such death:
(I) By the spouse of the deceased;
(II) Upon the written election of the spouse, by the spouse and the heir or heirs of the deceased;
(III) Upon the written election of the spouse, by the heir or heirs of the deceased; or
(IV) If there is no spouse, by the heir or heirs of the deceased or the designated beneficiary, if there is one designated pursuant to article 22 of title 15, C.R.S., with the right to bring an action pursuant to this section, and if there is no designated beneficiary, by the heir or heirs of the deceased;
(b) (I) In the second year after such death:
(A) By the spouse of the deceased;
(B) By the heir or heirs of the deceased;
(C) By the spouse and the heir or heirs of the deceased; or
(D) By the designated beneficiary of the deceased, if there is one designated pursuant to article 22 of title 15, C.R.S., with the right to bring an action pursuant to this section, and the heir or heirs of the deceased.
(II) However, if the heir or heirs of the deceased commence an action under the provisions of sub-subparagraph (B) of subparagraph (I) of this paragraph (b), the spouse or the designated beneficiary of the deceased, if there is one designated pursuant to article 22 of title 15, C.R.S., with the right to bring an action pursuant to this section, upon motion filed within ninety days after service of written notice of the commencement of the action upon the spouse or designated beneficiary, shall be allowed to join the action as a party plaintiff.
(c) (I) If the deceased is an unmarried minor without descendants or an unmarried adult without descendants and without a designated beneficiary pursuant to article 22 of title 15, C.R.S., by the father or mother who may join in the suit. Except as provided in subparagraphs (II) and (III) of this paragraph (c), the father and mother shall have an equal interest in the judgment, or if either of them is dead, then the surviving parent shall have an exclusive interest in the judgment.
(II) For cases in which the father and mother are divorced, separated, or living apart, a motion may be filed by either the father or the mother prior to trial requesting the court to apportion fairly any judgment awarded in the case. Where such a motion is filed, the court shall conduct a post-judgment hearing at which the father and the mother shall have the opportunity to be heard and to produce evidence regarding each parent's relationship with the deceased child.
(III) On conclusion of the post-judgment hearing conducted pursuant to subparagraph (II) of this paragraph (c), the court shall fairly determine the percentage of the judgment to be awarded to each parent. In making such a determination, the court shall consider each parent's relationship with the deceased, including custody, control, support, parental responsibility, and any other factors the court deems pertinent. The court's determination of the percentage of the judgment awarded to each parent shall not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion.
(d) For purposes of this section, "father or mother" means a natural parent of the deceased or a parent of the deceased by adoption. "Father or mother" does not include a person whose parental rights concerning the deceased were terminated pursuant to the provisions of title 19, C.R.S.
(2) In suits instituted under this section, it is competent for the defendant for his defense to show that the defect or insufficiency named in this section was not a negligent defect or insufficiency. The judgment obtained in an action under this section shall be owned by such persons as are heirs at law of the deceased under the statutes of descent and distribution and shall be divided among such heirs at law in the same manner as real estate is divided according to said statute of descent and distribution.
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