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Written by: J. Todd Tenge

What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering in Colorado

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how is pain and suffering calculated
how is pain and suffering calculated

Pain and suffering are broad terms commonly used in personal injury law to refer to a specific type of damage an accident victim suffers. Pain and suffering are considered non-economic or general damages because they are less tangible than economic damages and are subjective and personal to the victim. However, they are crucial to an accident victims claim to receive fair and just compensation for what they went through.

Pain and suffering damages are a part of personal injury lawsuits seeking financial award of damages for a person’s pain, anguish, psychological damage, and mental suffering. These damages might seem straightforward, but there are rules, parameters, and limitations. They are also tricky and challenging to calculate. The best way to ensure you receive adequate compensation is to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you determine the fair and reasonable value of your case, including your pain and suffering damages. 

Below, the injury lawyers at Tenge Law Firm go over these qualifications. If you have questions, please contact us today.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering damages are the most commonly sought non-economic damages. They refer to the physical, mental, and emotional harm you suffer because of an accident.

Pain and Suffering Claim

As attorneys, we are often asked, Can I sue for pain and suffering? The general answer is yes, so long as some physical injury accompanies your pain and suffering. 

The next question we are often asked is, How can I seek these damages? It is not always easy and can quite often be challenging because it is difficult to put a price on someone’s pain and emotional turmoil. Once you have brought a personal injury action against the appropriate defendants, there is, more often than not, a dispute as to the proper amount of compensation. A skilled and seasoned attorney will advocate for you at the negotiating table and through trial if necessary to ensure you receive all you and your family deserve. 

Proving Pain and Suffering

Proving pain and suffering damages can be challenging and more complex than calculating their economic counterparts. Economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, are easier to calculate and prove because you can quantify bills, invoices, lost pay, and estimates. 

However, non-economic damages such as those for pain and suffering can take much more effort and evidence to prove. Generally, the more credible and reliable evidence you have, the stronger your claim. 

Examples of evidence that can be used to prove pain and suffering include:

  • Medical doctor records and testimony,
  • Testimony of family and friends closest to you,
  • Psychologist, therapist, or counselor notes or testimony,
  • Personal diaries and journals,
  • Pictures,
  • Time missed from work and
  • Records of prescription medicines used to cope (i.e., antidepressants). 

Don’t worry if you do not have all of this evidence. Even just one or two high-quality pieces of evidence can be all you need to show just how much your life has been negatively affected. 

There are several factors a jury will consider when calculating pain and suffering damages. These factors include:

  • The severity of the injury,
  • The time it took for the injury to heal,
  • The age and overall health of the plaintiff,
  • The negative impact on the plaintiff’s professional and work life,
  • Limitations the plaintiff is experiencing from the injury in their daily life and routine,
  • The effect on the plaintiff’s social life (e.g., adverse effects on relationships), 
  • The long-term or permanent impact to the plaintiff, and
  • Impact to the plaintiff’s ability to sleep.

A jury might be asked to consider these factors and several others while deliberating damages. 

Importantly, you may be entitled to both past and future pain and suffering damages. Past damages are calculated from the time of the accident and injury until the date of the award or settlement. Future pain and suffering damages are the anticipated pain you might endure in the future.

Colorado Caps on Non-Economic Damages

Everyone’s pain and suffering damages are different and unique. Even victims dealing with similar injuries might have drastically different non-economic damages. The mental, psychological, and emotional trauma one individual experiences from an injury can be substantially different from that of someone else. 

However, no matter how much we might suffer emotionally from an injury, many states, including Colorado, limit the amount of damages that can be recovered. Under Colorado law, the non-economic damage cap depends on the type of case, when the injury occurred, and the extent of the injuries.

Personal Injury Cases

Most personal injury cases have a non-economic damage cap. The monetary cap will depend on when the injuries occurred. The statutory amount rises every two years to account for inflation. The current limit for incidents occurring after January 1, 2022, is $642,180. However, if there is clear and convincing evidence that this amount is too low, it can be increased to $1,284,370. In situations in which the plaintiff suffered permanent injury and damage, the caps are lifted.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

Unfortunately, there is no equation or straightforward calculation for determining non-economic damages. The plaintiff has the burden to prove their damages by presenting evidence to show why they are entitled to the amount they seek. 

It is also important to remember that Colorado is a comparative-fault state. If the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for the accident, their award will be reduced by the percentage of their responsibility. For instance, if the jury awards the plaintiff $100,000 but finds them to be 20% at fault for the accident, they will be limited to recovering $80,000. Furthermore, if the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault, they are generally barred from recovery. 

Permanent Impairment and Disfigurement Damages

Often, physical disfigurement and impairment damages are grouped into non-economic damage caps. However, in Colorado, physical impairments and disfigurement damages are categorized separately from economic and non-economic damages and are not statutorily capped.

Get in Contact with a Colorado Pain and Suffering Attorneys

At Tenge Law Firm, we offer a boutique personal injury firm offering highly personalized concierge-style representation to accident victims in Fort Collins, Denver, and Boulder, CO, and the surrounding areas. Each client deserves an individualized and unique approach to their case. Contact us today to schedule a no-cost, confidential consultation. 

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