Denver Personal Injury: Colorado Damage Caps
Colorado Damages Caps: What You Need to Know
When a person conjures up an image of a successful Denver personal injury suit, he or she may envision a scene such as this: the case takes place in a large courtroom with ornate wood furnishings and décor. The solemn judge sits behind a large wooden bench, looking out upon a courtroom packed with spectators sitting on wooden benches near the back of the room. Between the spectators and the judge sit the litigants, one at each table. At the injury victim’s table one can see a victim in a wheelchair and bandaged from head to toe. He is seated with his attorney. The other litigant and his or her attorney is seated at the other table. During the trial, the victim testifies about his expensive medical bills and all the pain, suffering, and anguish he has had to endure because of the injury. The jury sympathizes with the injury victim and awards him his medical expenses, along with millions of dollars to compensate him for his pain and suffering.
Is this how a personal injury lawsuit works? Not really, at least not in Denver, Colorado.
What is a Damages Cap and How Does It Work?
In an effort to reign in the costs of lawsuits like the one described above and keep the amount of damages a victim receives reasonable in light of the severity and extent of his or her injuries, Colorado enacted a “damages cap” almost thirty years ago. A “damages cap” is a law that indicates the maximum amount of non-economic damage that an injured plaintiff may receive. An injured plaintiff must still plead and prove he or she suffered non-economic damages in order to be able to recover such damages; however, a jury verdict that awards an amount of non-economic damages in excess of the cap will be reduced to the amount of the cap.
In Colorado, the statute initially capped non-economic damages are capped at $250,000. If clear and convincing evidence exists that this amount is not sufficient to adequately compensate the injury victim, the cap may be increased up to $500,000. These amounts were adjusted for inflation: today, the non-economic damages cap is set above $450,000.
Economic vs. Non-economic Damages
The damages cap only applies to non-economic damages. An injured plaintiff can recover an unlimited amount of economic damages provided, of course, that he or she can prove that he or she did in fact suffer those economic losses. What is the difference, though, between economic and non-economic damages?
Economic damages are those expenses and losses that are objective and easily quantifiable: medical expenses, costs of continuing care, lost wages, and similar losses and expenses. Essentially, economic damages include any loss or expense for which a receipt, bill, or invoice could be created. Non-economic damages include those non-quantifiable but equally-devastating losses such as mental pain and anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other mental or psychological harm suffered by the injury plaintiff.
Why a Denver Attorney’s Assistance is Invaluable
In your Denver personal injury case, an essential part of your case requires you to prove with evidence not only that you were injured but also the extent of your injury. While it may be easy to document the expenses you incurred, it can be more difficult to objectively establish a dollar value for your pain and suffering. An experienced Denver personal injury attorney can help you do this by identifying and presenting compelling testimony and/or tangible evidence that clearly demonstrates the extent of your suffering. This is the only way whereby you can obtain the maximum amount of non-economic damages possible.
Zinda Law Group is a Denver personal injury law firm assisting clients in putting their lives back together after a personal injury accident. Contact our office today by calling 303-800-1501 and discuss your personal injury case with a member of our knowledgeable and compassionate team.