Damages in Colorado broadly fall into two categories, which are economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include the proven, calculated losses incurred after an accident. Noneconomic damages are a bit harder to define.
As we discussed last week, economic damages are completely recoverable in issues of negligence. If you have hospital bills stemming from an accident that was not your fault, 100% of that bill can be part of a filing for economic damages. It’s in noneconomic damages that you face limitations.
What are noneconomic damages?
Any award or recovery you get in a lawsuit that is not part of the economic damages is noneconomic damages. Most noneconomic damages are “punitive damages.” These damages punish the defendant in addition to the other losses. Punitive damages are not automatic, but juries may often award them, in part, because of your:
- Loss of quality of life
These damages are harder to calculate in any firm way and because there is no price tag attached to them unless there is a “clear and convincing” justification, they are capped at $250,000.
In medical malpractice cases, there is no opportunity to pursue a noneconomic award higher than $250,000.
Why pursue additional damages?
The necessity of noneconomic damages is that when we lose someone or have significant injuries, there are many costs that we simply can’t account for with receipts. Losses that mount when we’ve lost a loved one or lost opportunities at work due to injury are impossible to quantify. This is why the law allows the pursuit of these claims.