Types of Damages in a Colorado Personal Injury Case
The term “damages” refers to the monetary compensation that an injured party collects after reaching a settlement or winning a personal injury lawsuit. A judge or jury will award damages to an injured victim who demonstrates financial, physical, and/or emotional losses and expenses related to their injury. Colorado attorney J. Todd Tenge will help you obtain the maximum compensation for your personal injury claim. He can speak with you about the types of personal injury damages at his Boulder or Fort Collins offices, also serving Denver, and help you determine the amount of compensation you should receive after an injury. Please contact our Denver and Boulder personal injury law firm today to schedule a free consultation.
Compensatory damages are awarded for demonstrable losses and expenses incurred as a result of the accident and your injuries. As the defendant is liable to the plaintiff for the direct consequences of his or her wrongful act, compensatory damages reimburse the plaintiff for any losses which are due to the defendant’s conduct. Within the state of Colorado, there are three types of compensatory damages: economic, non-economic, and physical impairment.
Economic damages are out-of-pocket financial losses incurred due to an accident. The most common are medical-related expenses and lost wages. These are expenses which are usually tangible for which tangible and quantifiable, including:
- Past and future hospital, rehabilitation, or other medical bills
- Past, present, and future lost earnings
- Funeral costs (in wrongful death cases)
- Essential services (home and yard care)
The State of Colorado does not have caps on economic damages, with the exception of cases of medical malpractice, which limits economic damages to $1,000,000.
Non-economic damages are intended to compensate victims for intangible, non-monetary losses related to an injury – such as physical and emotional distress, pain and suffering, grief, anxiety, frustration, and loss of enjoyment of life. In a wrongful death case, non-economic losses would include the loss of support and/or consortium suffered by the surviving relative. Non-economic losses are more abstract than economic losses. These losses are intangible and are hard to quantify. What is pain and suffering worth anyway? It is necessary to have a skilled and experienced attorney on your side to demonstrate the need for compensation in an amount which is fair and just.
Because of the intangibility of non-economic losses, tort reform in Colorado has placed caps on non-economic damages in the following cases:
- Pain and Suffering: $250,000 before inflation and $500,000 after inflation.
- Punitive Damages: The amount awarded to a plaintiff must not exceed the economic damages awarded with the exception of extreme cases, in which the cap is three times the economic damages.
- Medical Malpractice: $300,000 for pain and suffering, including as a result of wrongful death.
- Wrongful Death: $250,000 or $500,000 before inflation for pain and suffering. If the death was the result of medical malpractice, the cap is $300,000.
- Dram Shop: $150,000 per person injured at a tavern or bar.
Within the state of Colorado, physical impairments are categorized separately from economic and non-economic damages. As a result, costs related to physical impairments are calculated separately from the other categories and will not be capped the same way as non-economic damages. This includes pain and suffering as a result of a permanent impairment, such as cosmetic disfigurements, neurological damage, the disruption of internal organs’ natural processes, and other impairments. Determining the long-term effects of a physical impairment can take time, and an experienced personal injury attorney can help you properly calculate how your life has changed following an injury and what compensation you are owed.
It’s important to seek legal counsel to properly determine the damages to which you are owed; once you are compensated for an injury, you cannot return to the courts for further compensation related to that injury, even if it’s a permanent injury that requires lifelong medical attention and care. J. Todd Tenge, with help from his extensive base of legal resources and expert witnesses, will accurately project both the current and future losses and expenses that permanently injured victims can expect.
If you have a question about the types of personal injury damages to which you may be entitled, contact Boulder attorney J. Todd Tenge.
A judge or jury will typically award punitive damages if the defendant acted with fraud, malice, or willful or wanton misconduct. Rather than compensating the victim for his or her injury, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for egregiously wrongful behavior and deter future wrongful behavior. This includes purposeful behavior that a reasonable person would deem dangerous, reckless, or without regard for the rights and safety of others.
For example, in a case where a drunk driver willingly got into a vehicle, caused an auto accident, and killed a pedestrian, the victim’s family would be compensated for their actual economic and non-economic losses, and also awarded punitive damages. Some states impose a cap on the amount of punitive damages awarded to a plaintiff. In Colorado, punitive damages may not exceed the amount awarded for compensatory damages.
If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence and wish to file a personal injury claim, you could recover damages to compensate you. Attorney J. Todd Tenge can help you pursue a fair and just settlement. Contact the Tenge Law Firm, LLC today.
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