In a personal injury claim, everything can be argued and contested, from the extent of your injuries to what is considered medically necessary as far as surgeries and hospitalizations. With so much subjectivity, it’s hard to place limits on what people can and can’t claim when they’re injured, but states and courts have to draw the line somewhere.
Tort reform is one way of establishing this line, as it places limits on various aspects of a personal injury claim, including how much an injured person can seek in damages.
What Can I Claim?
In Colorado, injured people can seek recovery for three types of damages:
- Physical damages: This includes any extenuating problems that crop up as a result of an injury or accident, such as physiological disorders, mental conditions, loss of a body part or disfigurement.
- Economic damages: This includes any out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills, expenses for hospitalization, loss of earnings, damage to property and any future financial issues related to an injury or accident.
- Non-economic damages: This includes pain and suffering, loss of livelihood or other enjoyments and emotional trauma.
A person injured in an accident can seek restitution for any combination of these three things, provided the amount sought falls below the cap set for each type of damages. These caps have been set by the state in a series of tort reform laws.
In 1986, Colorado legislators first approved a cap of $250,000 for the non-economic damages that a plaintiff could recover. While this law was established based on the current wealth and standards of living of the time, the cap was not adjusted until 2007 and 2008 when legislators analyzed the impact inflation would have on that amount.
In adjusting the cap to allow for inflation, Colorado’s lawmakers intended for awards in excess of the non-economic damages cap to be limited to only those with serious and severe injuries. Currently, the non-economic damage cap in the state is a little over $468,000 and the court can increase this amount to a maximum of just over $936,000, so long as the plaintiff provides evidence to warrant such an excess amount.
The damages cap applies to any and all personal injury cases and cannot be influenced by the court’s determination that a lawsuit is frivolous or without merit, nor can it be influenced by the jury’s determination of what the plaintiff should receive.
When you’ve been injured in an at-fault accident, you want to be sure that your financial burden is eased as much as possible, especially in the midst of all the other problems you will have to handle.
If you’re unfamiliar with the state’s laws or the requirements for making a personal injury claim and exceeding the damage cap, you could add a significant amount of stress and worry to yourself and your family as you struggle with bills and other accident-related expenses.
It’s critical to take steps to maximize your claim and ensure that you receive the damages you’re entitled to have. For more information regarding Colorado’s laws and damage caps, contact an attorney at Levine Law, a leading Denver personal injury law firm, today.