If you or a loved one has been involved in a slip and fall, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm you have suffered. There are several categories of “damages” you may be able to recover, even if you were partially at fault in the accident, including economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost income), noneconomic damages (for your “pain and suffering”) and, in rare cases involving egregious conduct, punitive damages.
A Denver accident lawyer can advise you what is covered in each category, as well as how your damages will be established, so that you can make an informed decision about whether to pursue a case and start building your case by collecting important information early in the process. Here are the basic elements of damages for slip and fall accidents:
Recoverable Economic Damages in Colorado
There are several components of economic damages that may be recovered following a slip and fall accident, including medical costs, past and future, and lost earnings, past and future. There is no cap in Colorado on the amount of economic damages a plaintiff may recover in a personal injury action such as a slip and fall.
Recoverable Noneconomic Damages
Colorado law allows recovery for “pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional stress, and impairment of the quality of life. However, there is a limit on the amount recoverable for non-economic damages. Colorado caps noneconomic loss at $250,000 (plus inflation), although the court can increase the award to no more than $500,000 if it “finds justification by clear and convincing evidence.” There is no cap on pain and suffering damages for plaintiffs who have suffered a permanent physical impairment.
What are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages, referred to in Colorado law as “exemplary damages,” are not intended to compensate the plaintiff but to punish the defendants for egregious or reckless conduct, and to deter the wrongdoer and others from similar outrageous conduct in the future. Colorado requires evidence that the defendant acted “heedlessly and recklessly, without regard to consequences, or of the rights and safety of others, particularly the plaintiff.”
An award of punitive damages is rare in a slip and fall case. Where a landowner is aware of a dangerous condition and does nothing to remediate, even after multiple slip and fall incidents, a court may award exemplary damages. However, Colorado law places a cap on the amount of exemplary damages recoverable. With limited exceptions, the award cannot exceed the amount awarded for “actual damages.” That is, if a plaintiff is awarded $1000 for compensatory damages, she can recovery up to an additional $1000 for exemplary damages.
Does it Matter if I Am Partially at Fault for the Accident?
Colorado has what is referred to as a “comparative negligence” law, meaning that if you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you are not entitled to recover. If you are 50% or less at fault, you are entitled to a recovery, but any award of damages will be diminished by the percentage of negligence attributed to you.
Contact a Denver Accident Lawyer For Help
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of another, contact a Denver accident lawyer to discuss your case today.