In most cases, when someone injures another person, the victim can seek payment of money to compensate them for their losses. The goal of pursuing a personal injury claim, which may end up including filing a Complaint but not always, is to compensate a victim for what they have lost. The purpose is usually not to punish the at-fault person or to deter future bad acts. Damages meant to punish or deter a reoccurrence of bad conduct are called punitive or exemplary damages. Those damages are available only in certain cases where the victim can present evidence to a judge that the at-fault person acted outrageously, or with a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.
Compensatory damages that are most typically available in personal injury claims, can be economic or non-economic. Colorado recognizes a third category of compensatory damages called “physical impairment.” If there is evidence of a permanent change to a victim’s body or ability to use their body, such as scarring or an amputation, for example, then a jury can award money for that permanent change. That would be in addition to economic and non-economic damages. Whether juries award anything at all for impairment damages is (like many things in trial) dependent on the evidence presented and even the trial judge.
Economic damages include monetary damages like past and future medical care costs, past and future wage loss, and property damage.
Non-economic damages are to compensate a victim for hard to define losses like physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, increased anxiety, and inconvenience. In Colorado, there are non-economic damage caps that limit the amount you can recover. A certificate published by the Colorado Secretary of State listing the damage caps can be accessed here. There are no damage caps on economic, physical impairment, or disfigurement damages.
The dispute between an injured person and the at-fault person (called a “tortfeasor” in legalese) or their insurance company, is usually what amount of money constitutes fair compensation. If you are hurt, you may think you are entitled to significant money for the inconvenience and time you had to waste dealing with insurance adjusters, or driving to the doctor, or having to find are placement car. The at-fault person, and more importantly, their insurance company which will be in charge of any insurance claim, will likely focus not on those truths, but on the amount of past medical bills. If the accident or incident did not result in any objective injury seen on x-ray or MRI, like a fracture, then the insurance company is almost sure to value the compensatory damages lower than the victim.
Having an experienced lawyer, familiar with insurance adjusters, their strategies for minimizing your losses, and the law will help you or your affected loved ones navigate the often-times unfair process of personal injury claims resolution. Chris Parks Law and our knowledgeable team can help protect a victim’s rights under the law while guiding them through the legal process. We offer free personal injury consultations. It doesn't cost anything to talk to us over the phone, and we are happy to do so. Call (720) 805-1193.