What are Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Cases?

  • Personal Injury
July 22, 2022

What are Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Cases?

If you’ve suffered a personal injury, you may have experienced loss. That loss might be a physical impairment, a financial loss because you had to take unpaid work leave, or even non-economic loss which resulted in inconvenience, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment of life.

If this sounds familiar, you may be entitled to seek compensation from the party that caused these losses. In legal terms, you may be entitled to compensatory damages.

There are several categories of compensatory damages, but here are the most common ones.

Economic Damages

Economic damages apply to any monetary losses you may have incurred from a personal injury.

These may include:

  • Current or future medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity

Economic compensatory damages are intended to restore financial “wholeness” to the victim by offering compensation for expenses and financial losses incurred from an accident.

Medical Bills

Medical bills are, by far, the most common cost of a personal injury. Therefore, if you can demonstrate the defendant owes you a duty of care, breached it, injured you, and you experienced economic damages as a result, the defendant may be responsible for current and future medical bills.

Property Damage

Plaintiffs who can prove they’ve suffered damage to “real property” or “personal” property are also entitled to compensation. “Real” is a legal term to describe unaffixed items. In other words, a house is “real property,” but the dining room set within that house is “personal property.” Both real and personal property are protected under the Colorado legal system.

Lost Wages and Earning Capacity

Were you unable to work and lost wages because of an accident? Then you may be eligible for lost wages and earning capacity compensation.

Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damages are a bit more subjective but may include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental pain or emotional anguish
  • Loss of consortium (moral support, companionship, etc.)
  • Disfigurement or physical impairment
  • Loss of companionship and society
  • Inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, or injury to reputation

These damages may be harder to define, but they are still legitimate. To prove non-economic damages, you (the plaintiff) may have to present medical bills and prescriptions for pain relief, photographic documentation of the injury, or testimony from others describing what they’ve witnessed.

How much am I entitled to if I suffer economic damages?

This is a common question, and, as you may have guessed, the answer varies with every situation.

We can tell you that there are no caps on economic damages for most Colorado cases, except one. Medical malpractice cases are capped at $1M, except in extreme cases.

How much am I entitled to if I suffer non-economic damages?

As with economic damages, non-economic damages are also situational. There are, however, more caps placed on non-economic damages.

In medical malpractice cases, total damages cannot exceed $1M, with any more than $300K attributed to pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages are capped at $250K, and injuries incurred in a tavern or bar (dram shop) are capped at $150K.

Wrongful death damages are capped at $500K unless caused by medical negligence. In that case, the cap is set at $300K. Lastly, punitive damages may not exceed the actual damages awarded by the court—unless court-determined criteria are met.

Questions About the Process for Personal Injury Claims in Colorado?

At Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C., we’re proud to have assembled a group of dedicated and passionate Colorado lawyers. For over 30 years, we’ve delivered legal services of the highest caliber. Whether we’re addressing a personal injury case, resolving a family law dispute, working on a construction defect claim, assisting with a real estate dispute, or creating a solid estate plan, we are strategic with our approach. Contact us today!

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