In Colorado, a person who’s been injured in an accident can seek financial compensation, or damages, for emotional pain and suffering. This does not refer to the physical injuries or financial hardship suffered by the victim, but the emotional, mental or psychological effects of the accident and injury. Without hard evidence, calculating the value of emotional pain and suffering damages can be difficult.
There is a cap, or limit, on the amount of financial compensation available for emotional pain and suffering in personal injury and wrongful death cases in Colorado. Colorado Revised Statutes Section 13-21-102.5 places a $250,000 (plus inflation) maximum cap on compensation for noneconomic loss. This cap has been adjusted for inflation to $642,180 as of January 1, 2022. This amount could be increased by the court to $1,284,370 if there is evidence supporting this change.
The damage cap is altered for pain and suffering in medical malpractice claims. This cap was originally set at $300,000 (as well as $1 million in total damages, unless it can be shown that this is an unfair award for the circumstances) and has also been adjusted for inflation. Finally, the cap on the total amount of compensation available in a dram shop liability case is capped at $150,000 per person, including pain and suffering. Note, however, that there is no cap on pain and suffering damages for permanent physical impairment.
Determining how much can be recovered for your emotional pain and suffering in a personal injury case requires understanding what losses this type of damage award encompasses. Anxiety is considered pain and suffering, as is depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks and other mental health disorders. You can claim compensation for these issues if they were caused by the accident or the injuries that you suffered.
Pain and suffering can also include physical pain, chronic pain, inconvenience, loss of consortium, diminished quality of life, mental anguish and psychological harm. If you wish to seek financial compensation for anxiety and other intangible losses, increase your odds of success by seeing a mental health professional as soon as you notice symptoms. Obtaining an official diagnosis of anxiety can help you qualify for compensation.
Colorado law does not require the use of a specific formula to calculate pain and suffering. Insurance companies, juries and courts can assign any amount that seems fair and reasonable based on the circumstances. However, it is common practice to use the Multiplier Method. This equation multiplies the total amount of a plaintiff’s economic damages (medical bills, property damage, etc.) by a number between 1.5 and 5. The multiplier is chosen based on the severity of the injuries. An example of the Multiplier Method is a $50,000 economic damage award and an injury that receives a multiplier of 3, resulting in a $150,000 award for pain and suffering.
Another common equation is the Per Diem Method. This assigns a daily amount in pain and suffering – usually close to the victim’s daily wage – and multiplies it by the number of days that the victim will foreseeably suffer from the injury. If a plaintiff will have an injury for four weeks, for example, and earns a daily wage of $120, the pain and suffering award would be valued at $3,360 using the Per Diem Method.
Calculating pain and suffering damages may take assistance from an experienced professional. If you were recently injured in an accident in Colorado, discuss the potential value of your case with a Lakewood personal injury attorney. A personal injury lawyer can help you fight for fair financial compensation for your emotional pain and suffering in addition to economic losses. Contact James L. Finegan to schedule a free consultation today.