Quality of Life
Just about everyone knows, or thinks they know, what “quality of life” is. It gets trickier, however, when you file a personal injury claim for economic and non-economic damages. “Diminished quality of life” is one component of a Colorado non-economic damages claim that can add up to quite a bit of money under the right circumstances.
Medical Conditions That Can Diminish Your Quality of Life
Diminished quality of life is a common consequence when a catastrophic injury dramatically impacts your lifestyle. The following medical conditions, for example, can affect your quality of life:
- Chronic pain: There is little that you can enjoy if you are in constant pain.
- Disability: The loss of a limb, paralysis, and other forms of serious disability can make it difficult or even impossible for you to live independently.
- Mental health conditions: PTSD, depression, and chronic anxiety can rob you of your quality of life just as much as physical pain can.
- Loss of mobility: Your ability to engage in your favorite activities will be severely circumscribed if, for example, you are confined to your bed or to a wheelchair.
- Loss of cognitive function: Dementia or other cognitive impairments can limit your ability to think coherently, remember events accurately, and participate in activities you once enjoyed.
Claiming “pain and suffering” for chronic pain is not the same as claiming lost quality of life because you can no longer go to the gym. You can file both of these claims at the same time.
Common Components of a Lost Quality of Life Claim
Some of the kinds of losses that make up such a claim might include the loss of:
- Hobbies. Cognitive limitations prevent you from playing chess, for example.
- Companionship. If you have trouble speaking, for example, you might lose the ability to enjoy comradery with friends and family.
- Travel opportunities. Travel could become so cumbersome that you no longer enjoy it.
- Marital intimacy: You might lose the ability to enjoy physical intimacy with your spouse because of your injuries. Not to be confused with a “loss of consortium,” which is a claim filed by your spouse as a result of your injuries.
- Your career. Loss of your career can constitute part of a lost quality of life claim if you enjoyed your career but can no longer participate in it.
- Independence. Your injuries might prevent you from shaving, eating, or walking without the assistance of someone else.
- Family relationships: You might lose the ability to enjoy interacting with your children, for example.
- Friendships. Social isolation can lead to diminished quality of life.
This is not a complete list-–your lost quality of life claim might also include other losses that don’t appear here.
Limitations and Defenses
Depending on the facts surrounding your claim, a defendant can try to use the following ways to diminish the value of your claim or even force you to abandon your claim altogether.
The very presence of a credible claim to such limitations and defenses can affect even the settlement value of your claim.
The defendant can have the judge dismiss your claim if you are at least 50% at fault for the accident. If you were less than 50% at fault (20% at fault, for example), the defendant can ask the judge to deduct that percentage of your damages that corresponds to your exact percentage of fault.
This deduction will come out of all of your damages, including your claim for lost quality of life.
No matter how much your claim is worth, an insurance company will pay no more than its policy limits. You can still seek the remainder out of the defendant’s pocket, if they can afford to pay.
The Statute of Limitations
The Colorado personal injury statute of limitations sets the deadline for filing a personal injury claim. Most personal injury cases either have a two-year or three-year deadline. If you miss the statute of limitations, the defendant can ask the judge to dismiss your claim, and the judge will certainly do so.
Expert Testimony and Evidence
Since the testimony of an expert is inherently credible, hiring an expert to help you establish your diminished quality of life claim is one of the best ways of winning it.
Insurance companies love to blame claimants for their own injuries. If they can’t blame the accident itself on the claimant, they can claim that the claimant’s injuries (a back injury, for example) predate the accident.
In this way, they will be disputing the causation element of your claim. The claim would be that the accident in question is not what actually caused your injuries.
Statutory Damages Caps
Colorado places a statutory limit on overall non-economic damages. In 2023 the limit amounted to about $600,000. The limit increases slightly every year to account for cost of living increases.
Your Claim Might Be Worth More Than You Realize
Most people underestimate the value of their potential non-economic damages. If you decide to represent yourself, you will carry those low expectations into negotiations. That is why it is so important for you to retain an experienced, persuasive Denver personal injury lawyer to help you establish the true value of your economic damages.