In personal injury law, there are two main types of damages, or financial compensation, available to an injured victim: economic and non-economic. The courts recognize that the average accident does not only cause financial problems for a victim but also personal and emotional distress. For this reason, it is possible for a claimant to seek financial compensation for losses that are not just financial during a personal injury claim. These are called non-economic damages or pain and suffering.
Non-economic damages refer to compensable losses that are not related to the financial, or economic, costs of an accident. While economic damages can include medical bills and property repairs, non-economic damages focus on the intangible ways in which an accident impacted the victim’s personal life, such as:
Non-economic damages are also called general damages. This is because they refer to the pain and suffering that the average person would generally experience in such an accident. Economic damages, on the other hand, are referred to as special damages, as they encompass the specific financial costs of an accident that are unique to the victim.
Yes and no. While there are two main formulas that can be used by the courts to calculate pain and suffering damages, a jury is not obligated to use either – or any formula at all. A judge will give the jury instructions with guidelines for how to come up with a fair and reasonable amount in non-economic damages, but the final amount awarded is up to a jury. That being said, you may be able to use one of the two most common formulas to estimate the value of your non-economic damages:
Non-economic damages are calculated based mainly on the severity of the victim’s injuries and how greatly they have impacted the victim’s life. This means you will most likely receive more in financial compensation for pain and suffering if you have a catastrophic injury, such as a traumatic brain injury or permanent spinal cord injury.
Yes. In Colorado, a law known as a statute of limitations gives you no more than two years to demand financial compensation for pain and suffering in a personal injury claim, or three years for car accident injuries. In general, if you miss your deadline, the courts will not permit you to file a claim for compensation. If you do not file within the period given to you by the statute of limitations, you will be ineligible for non-economic damages.
While many states have ruled monetary limits, also known as damage caps, unconstitutional, Colorado still has a limit on non-economic damages. Currently, no claimant in Colorado can receive more than $613,760 in pain and suffering damages for incidents that occur on or after January 1, 2020. This amount increases at regular intervals to account for inflation.