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Seeking punitive damages in Colorado auto accident cases, P.2

Patricia M. Jarzobski

We’ve been looking at the topic of punitive damages and what Colorado law has to say about them. Again, punitive damages are only available in certain types of cases and there are certain limitations on how large a punitive damages award can be. That being said, there are certain situations where judges in Colorado are actually able to increase a punitive damages award beyond what a jury awards to a plaintiff.

In fact, judges may issue a punitive damages award up to three times the amount of a plaintiff’s actual damages. A plaintiff must also be able to demonstrate one of two possible scenarios before a judge is able to do this, though. All things considered, it is more likely that a punitive damages award will be reduced than increased. Still, let’s look at these possibilities.

The first possible scenario is that the willful and wanton behavior or action which caused the plaintiff injury is either continuing or has been repeated while the case has been ongoing. The behavior or action does not need to have been perpetrated against the plaintiff, but may have been done to others. The second possible scenario is that the defendant, while the case was ongoing, acted in a willful and wanton manner to further aggravate damages to the plaintiff, knowing that their actions would have an aggravating effect on the plaintiff.  

In terms of car accident cases, it is more likely that the first scenario is going to be applicable, such as in cases where the defendant has caused other accidents since the personal injury claim was filed.

In seeking out damages, especially punitive damages, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that one has the guidance necessary to build the best possible case. Nothing is ever guaranteed with damages awards, but building a strong case certainly gives a plaintiff a fighting chance. 

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