What Damages Can I Recover?

You are entitled to recover for any actual damages that were proximately caused by the wrongful conduct of the defendant. Actual damages refers to the amount of money it would take to fully compensate you and place you in the same position you would have been in had the injury never taken place. You can recover for losses such as costs of reasonable and necessary medical care, property damage, car rental expenses, costs of domestic services, and loss of earnings. The law allows compensation for future medical and care expenses that the claimant can prove will be reasonably necessary to treat the injury. The claim may include income the claimant can prove will probably be lost in the future because of the injuries. Loss of earning capacity is also allowed when the patient proves he or she is less able to earn a living as a result of the injuries

You are also entitled to non­economic damages for physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium (disruption of your personal relationship with your spouse), etc. A third type of damages that are recoverable are for physical impairment and disfigurement. There is no definite standard of calculating reasonable compensation for these types of damages other than being just and reasonable in light of the evidence. They are assessed in light of the nature, extent, and length of time the injury lasts.

The law in Colorado limits the amount of compensation available for non­economic damages (excluding physical impairment and disfigurement) in injury and wrongful death cases. For medical malpractice, damages may not exceed $1,000,000 per patient with not more than $250,000 attributed to non­economic loss or injury. The court may allow an award in excess of these amounts under certain circumstances.

Sometimes a person is so severely injured that he or she cannot care and support loved ones the way he or she did before the injury. In appropriate circumstances, the law permits damages to be recovered by family members of negligently injured people for the loss of the love, care, affection, companionship, and other pleasures of the family relationship that are lost because of the injury.

Family members can be compensated for the wrongful death of a loved one. These damages may include medical and burial expenses, loss of income that would have supported the family members, and contributions the deceased would have made in the way of comfort, assistance, advice, protection, companionship, etc.

Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant for reckless or malicious conduct and deter others from similar conduct. They may be awarded only if it is established by that the defendant acted with fraud, malice, or willful and wanton conduct. The amount of such damages may not exceed an amount equal to the amount of actual damages awarded. The court may increase this amount to up to three times the amount of actual damages under special circumstances.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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