If you are hurt because of the careless actions of another person or entity, you may be able to recover compensation for the economic losses you experience that are directly tied to the accident. These losses may include property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
However, you may also be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering and other non-economic losses you suffer. This portion of your claim could be particularly valuable, so it’s important you understand what non-economic damages are and how they may impact your claim.
Role Of Damages In Colorado Personal Injury Cases
Damages are one of the necessary elements you must establish in order to recover compensation in a personal injury case.
For negligence claims, you must prove the following legal elements:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- The defendant breached the duty of care.
- The defendant’s breach was the direct and proximate cause of your injury.
- You suffered damages as a result of the accident.
If even one of these elements is missing, you cannot recover compensation through a negligence claim.
Damages are particularly important in personal injury cases because they represent how the court can provide an equitable solution to an accident victim. It’s not possible to undo the accident that led to the victim’s injury, so the court is only left with the option to award monetary damages to the victim to try to make things right.
Types Of Damages In Colorado Personal Injury Cases
Colorado personal injury cases typically request compensation for the following types of losses:
Economic damages are the negative economic consequences an accident victim may experience because of the accident and their injuries.
These damages may include compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses, including hospitalization, surgeries, emergency treatment, ambulance charges, follow-up care, visits with specialists, medication, and medical devices
- Loss of income, family services, and employment benefits
- Costs to repair or replace damaged property
- Out-of-pocket and incidental expenses, including transportation costs to medical appointments and alternative transportation costs
Economic damages include current, as well as anticipated future losses. For example, economic damages can include future medical care the accident victim will likely need because of their injuries and/or loss of earning capacity if the injury permanently disabled the accident victim.
Non-economic damages include losses that accident victims suffer that cannot be quantified as easily. Nonetheless, courts and juries can assume that accident victims endured them. Like with economic damages, non-economic damages can include current and future losses.
Types Of Non-Economic Damages In Colorado
Colorado law defines “noneconomic loss or injury” as “nonpecuinary harm for which damages are recoverable” by the victim who is suffering a direct or primary loss or injury. These damages include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional stress
- Impairment of the quality of life
An experienced personal injury lawyer can review your claim and discuss the damages you may be able to recover in your particular case.
How To Determine The Value Of Non-Economic Damages
By their very nature, non-economic damages are difficult to quantify. You can’t make a bill for your pain and suffering like an auto shop or doctor’s office can provide for car repairs or medical expenses. The amount of compensation in personal injury cases can vary widely from one case to the next.
Various factors may be considered when determining an award for non-economic damages, such as:
- The nature and severity of the victim’s injuries
- The victim’s medical expenses
- The duration of the victim’s medical treatment
- The duration of the victim’s pain and suffering
- The amount of time off work the victim had to take because of the injuries
- The permanency of the injuries
- Whether the injuries reduced the victim’s long-term earning capacity
- How the injuries affected the victim
An experienced personal injury lawyer can argue for you to recover fair compensation for the harm you suffered.
Non-Economic Damage Caps In Colorado
Colorado has damage caps that limit how much money a court can award an accident victim or their family. For most personal injury claims, the cap for non-economic damages is $250,000. However, the court can award up to $500,000 in non-economic damages if it finds justification to do so by clear and convincing evidence.
These are the amounts that were determined when the law was passed. The amounts are tied to the Consumer Price Index and adjusted periodically for inflation. For personal injury claims accrued between January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2023, the general cap for non-economic damages is $642,180.
Contact a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer for More Information
If you have any questions about non-economic damages, an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer can help. Contact Zaner Harden Law to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We’re standing by to help.