If you suffer an injury because of the careless or wrongful acts of another person, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault party. This compensation, known as damages, can help you move forward from a traumatic incident by paying for your related bills and losses. Discuss the potential value of a case with a Denver personal injury attorney at Manning Law for more information.
Compensatory vs. Exemplary Damages
The types of compensation that can be awarded in a Colorado personal injury lawsuit are separated into two categories: compensatory and exemplary (also known as punitive) damages. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate, or reimburse, a plaintiff for the losses he or she suffered because of the actions of the defendant.
The purpose of compensatory damages is to make the victim whole again. Exemplary damages, on the other hand, punish a defendant for especially egregious acts of wrongdoing. In Colorado, exemplary damages can be awarded in cases where a defendant is guilty of fraud, malice, or willful and wanton conduct. Exemplary damages are awarded less often than compensatory.
Types of Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages are divided into economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages – also known as tangible, special or pecuniary damages – cover the monetary or financial losses suffered by a victim in an accident. They can include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Surgeries, therapies, rehabilitation and medications
- Disability or permanent injury
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Lost wages and employment benefits
- Lost future capacity to earn
- Property or vehicle damage
- Funeral and burial costs
Noneconomic damages – also known as intangible, general, nonpecuniary, or pain and suffering damages – are the nonmonetary impacts of the accident or injury on the victim. They can include:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Anxiety or depression
- Mental or psychological anguish
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of consortium
- Lost quality or enjoyment of life
Economic damages are easily quantified, as they are calculated using bills, invoices and other hard evidence. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are more subjective and typically determined by a jury after seeing how much the injury has impacted the victim.
Are There Caps on Damages in Colorado Personal Injury Cases?
Yes. Colorado imposes a cap, or limit, on the amount available in certain types of damages. The maximum in pain and suffering damages is $250,000, plus inflation. In a medical malpractice case, the damage cap is $1 million, unless the plaintiff can show good cause to exceed this limit. No more than $300,000 of the $1 million may be noneconomic damages. Finally, there is a cap on punitive damages; they cannot exceed the actual damages awarded except in certain circumstances.
How Much Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit Worth?
The potential value of a personal injury lawsuit will depend on the circumstances. One factor used to calculate damages is the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries. If the victim suffered a permanent impairment, such as neurological damage, internal organ failure or disfiguring scars, this could lead to a higher damage award. Other determining factors may include the number of liable parties and the insurance coverage available.
How to Get the Compensation You Deserve in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Colorado, speak to the attorneys at Manning Law during a free case evaluation. If your case has merit, we can guide you through the steps of seeking the financial compensation that you deserve for your losses. Our personal injury attorneys in Denver can use aggressive settlement negotiation strategies or take your case to trial, if necessary, to pursue maximum results on your behalf.