When a person is injured because of someone else’s negligence, he or she may be eligible to receive compensation for resulting injuries by filing a lawsuit in court. This allows many injured parties to recover compensation for economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages.
Some injured parties are also able to collect what are referred to as non-economic damages, which compensate a victim for losses that are more difficult to quantify, such as the pain and suffering endured by the plaintiff as a result of his or her injuries.
However, the amount of non-economic damages that a plaintiff can recover is limited. This is because the Colorado Legislature placed a cap on the amount of non-economic damages available to injured victims in certain cases.
Determining the amount of damages that a person is eligible to receive can be difficult, so if you or a loved one were recently injured it is crucial to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can explain your legal options.
There are a number of different types of damages that plaintiffs in injury cases may seek, including economic damages. Economic damages represent the monetary losses suffered by the plaintiff and can include:
- Past and future medical expenses, which must be substantiated through medical records and receipts;
- Lost income, which represents the amount of money that a person would have been able to earn if he or she had not been injured;
- Property damage, which can be established through repair bills or receipts demonstrating the cost of replacement; and
- Lost earning capacity, which can be demonstrated by an economic expert who can establish the amount of earnings that a person would have been able to collect in his or her lifetime if not for the incident.
Plaintiffs in personal injury cases are not limited to collecting economic damages, but may also be eligible to receive non-economic damages, such as those awarded for:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of companionship;
- Stress and anxiety; and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Non-economic damages are by nature more difficult to calculate, which means that it is often up to a jury to order damages according to their experience. For this reason, Colorado law has placed a cap on non-economic damages as follows:
- $250,000, which may be increased to $500,000 for incidents occurring before January 1, 1998;
- $366,250, which can be increased to $732,500 for incidents occurring between January 1, 1998 and January 1, 2008; and
- $468,010, which can be increased to $936,030 for incidents occurring after January 1, 2008.
For a plaintiff to receive the larger award, there must be clear and convincing evidence justifying an increase. Finally, an injured party who is seeking recovery from multiple defendants can request the capped amount from each at-fault party, unless the incident resulted in the death of the plaintiff.
Cause of Action
There are additional laws that restrict how much a plaintiff can recover in certain types of cases. For instance, when a person is seeking compensation for an incident that resulted in the victim’s death, the amount of damages is automatically capped at $250,000 (adjusted for inflation) regardless of when the event occurred. However, this amount can be increased to $500,000 if clear and convincing evidence justifies it.
There is also a separate cap of $300,000 for cases involving medical malpractice, which arises when a medical professional fails to meet the appropriate standard of care and causes an injury. There is also a maximum overall cap of $1 million in these types of cases.
Finally, when a plaintiff is attempting to collect damages from an establishment that provided alcohol to a drunk driver, the amount that he or she can receive is capped at $280,810.
Punitive damages are awarded in especially serious cases where a defendant exhibited extreme negligence or recklessness and are meant to deter similar behavior in the future. While Colorado allows courts to award punitive damages, it also places a cap on the amount that can be awarded. As a result, punitive damages cannot exceed the amount of actual damages awarded by a jury. This means that if a jury awards $100,000 to a plaintiff for economic damages, it cannot order more than $100,000 in punitive damages.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
Please contact McCormick & Murphy, P.C., at 888-668-1182 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case.