How Caps on Wrongful Death Damages Impact Your Award
It is never easy to lose a loved one. It is even harder when you depended upon the individual’s income to support your family. When pursuing wrongful death damages, it is essential to understand which forms of compensation you can pursue and the maximum award you can recover.
In January 2020, Governor Polis signed into law changes to Colorado’s wrongful death statute. These raised the maximum award for non-economic damages from $468,010 to a maximum of $613,760. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life. The maximum award for derivative non-economic losses or injuries is $613,760.
Under the changes signed into law by Governor Polis, the maximum allowed under a wrongful death action for non-economic losses is $571,870. This is a significant boost from the previous maximum of $436,070. However, it is still lower than the maximum award allowed for personal injury cases. To make up for this difference, the state has increased the amount of solatium, or consolation damages, from $68,250 to $114,370.
Who is Affected by the New Caps?
Colorado will adjust the maximum economic and non-economic damage caps every two years in perpetuity. These new caps will apply to claims for incidents that occurred after January 1, 2020, and before January 1, 2022. Any claims before January 2020 will be decided based on the old statutes, while those after will be determined based on the adjustments the legislature makes for the next schedule.
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado, plaintiffs can pursue both economic and non-economic damages. This includes compensation for medical expenses, physical therapy, pharmaceutical treatment, etc. These expenses are fairly easy to calculate and can be determined based on receipts and billing statements.
When calculating non-economic damages, one of the most common methods used is to calculate the total of economic damages and multiply by a factor of four to ten. In general, the greater the loss and the impact on the family, the higher the applied factor.
We are sorry for your loss, and it is our pleasure to answer your questions as you pursue wrongful death damages in Colorado. We invite you to contact our team at Sloat, Nicholson, & Hoover, P.C., by calling (303) 447-1144. We will answer your questions and help you determine the best strategy as you move forward with your case.
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