Can I Recover for My Medical Bills, Expenses, Lost Wages and PTO?
Absolutely. Under Colorado law, an at fault driver is responsible for all the damage that has been caused by his or her negligence. This means that he or she is responsible for the property damage to your car, as well as any damage to you – commonly known as personal injury. Generally speaking, Colorado law provides for three categories of damages: 1) economic losses; 2) non-economic losses; and 3) permanent impairment. We will discuss these types of damages below.
Economic losses are those damages that have an objective, actual value to them. The most common type of economic loss is past medical bills. As the name suggest, this includes the amount of bills you have incurred for your past medical treatment. Usually past medical bills include visits to your physician or chiropractor or mental health provider, imaging, and progressively more invasive procedures such as injections or surgery. However, when documented correctly – ideally through physician’s referral – we can recover for massages, certain medical devices such as electric stimulation units (commonly referred to as TENS units), and even unconventional therapy such as acupuncture or naturopathy.
Economic losses also include future medical procedures, although historically insurance companies do not pay dollar for dollar value for such treatment. Typically the insurance companies will argue that future treatment is speculative and thus will compensate only with a detailed doctor’s explanation as to why the future treatment is needed, and even then, the insurance company will pay a significant discount of the true value of the services. The speculative nature and discount for payment of future medical treatment is one of the reasons we suggest that clients actually complete as much medical treatment as possible before finalizing their claim. To attempt to settle your claim to early is a good way of leaving money on the table.
A significant category of economic loss is lost income due to missed work to attend medical appointments or inability to work because of injury. Not only have experienced Boulder personal injury lawyers like Cook, Bradford & Levy recovered for lost wages, but also when our clients have had to use their Paid Time Off (PTO) for crash-related missed work. It is simply unfair that you have to dip into your PTO that you have worked so hard to earn, preferably for a vacation or a cash payout, but instead have had to use to go to the doctor or stay home to recover from a crash. PTO is a valid and quantifiable category of economic loss that we can help you recover.
Non-economic losses include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, emotional distress associated with the incident, and the like. The value of a non-economic loss claim is difficult, if not impossible, to calculate exactly. Each case is different, and depending on what you have experienced as a result of the crash will determine the amount of your recovery for non-economic damages. For example, did you have to go through the scare of a surgery? Did you lose your ability to participate in an activity you love? The examples and factors that contribute to non-economic loss are infinite. With this said, non-economic losses are typically a function of the amount of economic losses. If calculating the amount of non-economic losses sounds like more of an art than a science, this is because it’s true. This is where you would benefit from an experienced Boulder personal injury lawyer who can help you understand from past experience how much compensation for non-economic losses is adequate.
The third area of damages is known as permanent impairment. Most often this includes permanent changes to your body. There are numerous examples of what can be considered a permanent impairment, but for illustration purposes, we often see this when a person loses a limb, or when a child receives a permanent scar from a dog bite, for example. We work hard to identify and include any permanent impairment in your insurance claim.
If you have any questions about what kinds of damages you are entitled to recover under Colorado law, please reach out to us at 303-543-1000 for a free consultation!