What Does “Pain and Suffering” Mean?
Motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, slips and falls, ski accidents, and other events can cause serious, potentially life-changing personal injuries that can cause considerable pain and suffering. Many prospective clients believe that “pain and suffering” are limited to physical pain; however, it includes so much more.
Pain and Suffering Is a Form of Non-Economic Damage
In Colorado, plaintiffs can pursue compensation for pain and suffering as part of their personal injury lawsuit. They are considered non-economic damages because, unlike lost income or medical expenses, there is no way to truly calculate their cost.
While physical pain is included in the definition, it also covers mental and emotional damages. For example, depression caused by scarring and disfigurement, or anxiety caused when getting into a car or engaging in the activity that caused the injury.
The statute allows plaintiffs to pursue compensation for these injuries, as well as grief, loss of consortium, loss of quality of life, and the general inconvenience the injury causes. For instance, the inability to navigate stairs after an amputation. Or the inability to drive a motor vehicle after a loss of sight.
Statutory Limits on Pain and Suffering Damages
Colorado statutes establish limits on some types of non-economic damage claims. In medical malpractice lawsuits, the limit is $300,000. For most personal injury cases, it’s $250,000; however, this can rise to $500,000 if there is overwhelming evidence to support the claim. Finally, if the injury involves permanent physical disability or scarring, there is no limit to the non-economic damages that can be awarded.
Establishing Pain and Suffering
Many clients are concerned about how to prove they are truly suffering. Many are fearful that opposing counsel will challenge the validity of pain and suffering claims. This rarely happens when a loss of life, loss of limb, disfigurement, or loss of a sense is involved.
Where it can happen is when intangible pain and suffering for mental anguish is claimed. However, challenges can be defeated with solid evidence. For example, counseling records, records of prescription medications for the treatment of depression or physical pain, etc.
We invite you to contact Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. at (303) 447-1144 for more information about pain and suffering damages in Colorado. It is our pleasure to answer your questions and help you understand your options for recovering compensation for your injuries.
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