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Written by: J. Todd Tenge

Defining Punitive Damages in Colorado

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Most personal injury cases focus on compensatory damages, such as medical treatment and lost wages. But there is another type of damages awarded in rare circumstances: punitive damages. So, what is “punitive damage” and how might it be applied to your case? The easiest way to define punitive damage is to use an example. 

Let’s say you get into a car accident with a drunk driver. Despite having been charged with DUI multiple times, this other driver decided to drive under the influence, resulting in an accident. When you take them to court for your personal injury claim, the jury determines that the other driver should be punished for not changing their ways after the first few DUI charges. In addition to your compensatory damages, the jury may decide to award punitive damages in hopes that they deter further violations by the defendant.

Essentially, the goal of punitive damages isn’t to reimburse the victim for their losses, but rather to discourage the behavior of the defendant that led to the accident. However, this applies only in cases where the defendant showed gross negligence or malicious intent, and they’re not available in every state. Because of this, punitive damages aren’t that common. In Colorado, punitive damages are available, but they can’t exceed the total amount of your compensatory damages. All in all, if your personal injury involved someone whom you believe acted in a willful or wanton manner, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney at the Tenge Law Firm. Over the last ten years, we’ve recovered over $50 million on behalf of personal injury victims throughout Colorado. To schedule a free consultation, please give us a call at 303-665-2929.

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