In Colorado the legislature has codified caps on non-economic damages in civil lawsuits. Non-economic damages or losses are often referred to as pain and suffering damages. This is a complicated area of the law and often there are exceptions to the damages caps. It is also important to understand that caps can change each year depending on the political climate. Many attorneys will boast and brag about their recent verdicts interestingly enough these same attorneys seem to forget to inform the public that their verdict was reduced significantly due to damage caps. It is imperative for a personal injury attorney to become infinitely familiar with these caps. A strong understanding of non-economic caps is imperative in order for an attorney to analyze the merits and value of a case. A working understanding of damage caps is also critical when requesting an award from a jury. For example, if a jury awards damages in excess of the non-economic cap the excess amount is not recoverable.
The non-economic cap statute, CRS 13-21-102.5 defines non-economic damages as non-pecuniary losses, including pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional stress, and impairment of the quality of life. This same statute limits non-economic losses, in most cases to $468,010. The cap can be increased to $936,030 if the court is convinced by clear and convincing evidence of the merits of the non-economic losses.
The primary exception to the non-economic cap is permanent physical impairment damages. When speaking to a jury an attorney should thoroughly address the merits of her client’s permanent physical impairment. In many situations the client’s most devastating loss is due to permanent physical impairment and this absolutely must be conveyed to a the jury. Please contact Bell & Pollock if you would like to discuss damage caps in more detail.