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Damage Caps in Colorado Law

Like all other states, Colorado’s various types of cases have specific statutes of limitations. But one big difference lies in the damage caps that limit a plaintiff’s recovery.

Source: Enjuris.com

For those who aren’t familiar, a statute of limitations is the specific period of time in which a case needs to be filed before the right to file the claim is lost. These can range from just 180 days for a negligence case against the government to three years for a motor vehicle accident.

A damage cap is the ceiling for the claim – the ultimate recovery a plaintiff can receive, regardless of what happened in the case or how bad the plaintiff’s injuries are.

What is the point of a damage cap? It was originally intended to keep verdicts from going out of control and burdening the economy. If a medical malpractice jury awards millions of dollars to a plaintiff, however deserving, that doctor’s insurer is going to raise costs to the hospitals in its network to offset its own burden, which means it costs more for the doctor to practice medicine, which means it costs more for patients to see the doctor, and so on and so forth. To keep this from happening, states enacted damage caps to keep juries from running away with awards.

We will touch upon the most common types of personal injury cases in the Centennial State here, as well as their accompanying damage caps.

Based on the date an accident took place, Colorado damage caps are the following, with numbers reflecting adjustments for inflation:

$250,000 or $500,000 (accidents occurring before January 1, 1998)
$366,250 or $732,500 (Accidents occurring from January 1, 1998 to January 1, 2008)
$468,010 or $936,030 (Accidents occurring after January 1, 2008)

Colorado also has what’s known as a “social host” provision. This is when somebody without the license to sell alcohol (at a party at someone’s house, for instance) serves a drink to someone who is visibly intoxicated or who is under the age of 21. While the social host wouldn’t necessarily be liable for serving alcohol in the former case, he would be liable if he knowingly served alcohol to a minor who then goes on to injure himself or someone else.

The damage cap is not applied if the court finds that the death was the result of a felonious killing such as murder or manslaughter. Recovery under this option does not require that the defendant already be convicted under criminal statutes.

In Colorado, family members also have the option of pursuing what are called “solatium” claims. These offer heirs the option of not having to prove their grief and suffering before the court. They instead simply prove fault in the death of their relative and accept the capped sum of $50,000, plus inflation.

Damage caps and statutes of limitation can be a complicated area. This is only a snapshot of some of the laws that set limitations on personal injury claims in Colorado, and certainly the details of your case will require consideration. Learn more about hiring the right attorney. Talk to The Babcock Law Firm for a free consultation today.

Categories: Personal Injury
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