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How do I obtain non-economic damages in Colorado?

In our last post, we began speaking about the distinction between economic and non-economic damages. As we noted, non-economic damages include a variety of losses that cannot be readily measured in monetary terms, and many states put caps on these damages in order to make sure that juries don’t come up with excessive awards.

Here in Colorado, non-economic damages are generally capped for personal injury cases at $366,250, though courts are given the discretion to award more than this depending on the circumstances. For wrongful death awards, non-economic damages have a slightly lower cap of $341,250, though the possibility of upward deviation exists in these cases as well.

Given these limitations, then, how exactly are non-economic damages calculated? In fact, there is no established way of calculating non-economic damages in Colorado, and it is assumed that juries will see to it that personal injury victims are adequately compensated. Because of this, it is up to plaintiffs and their attorneys to present a strong case for non-economic damages that resonates with the jury, or perhaps the judge, whoever is ultimately determining the award.

Putting together a strong case for non-economic damages is important because, as we noted before, it is an opportunity to receive compensation which is not tied to factors about the victim that can be readily monetized. Put another way, low wage earners have the chance, with non-economic damages, to see to it that their overall damages award is not restricted to their value in economic terms.

In a future post, we’ll talk about another important kind of damages that may be available in some hit-and-run cases—punitive damages—and some of the considerations involved in seeking these damages out.

Sources:

Boulder County Bar Association, “Bar Media Manual: Damages, Costs and Attorney’s Fees,” Accessed March 6, 2015.

Boulder County Bar Association, “Bar Media Manual: Personal Injury,” Accessed March 6, 2015.

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