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Damages Caps

Colorado Limits (“Caps”) on Recovery of Damages

As a result of sweeping tort reform that took Colorado by storm in the mid 1980s, victims of negligence are subject to limits on their recovery for certain categories of cases and damages. At Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, we are Boulder personal injury attorneys with an in-depth understanding of when these limits to damages apply, to which types of cases, and how they can impact your case.

An experienced Boulder personal injury attorney knows, for example, that although other areas of damages may be impacted by a cap, non-economic damages are almost always subject to a cap. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, and emotional stress.

Non-economic losses are difficult to quantify. Nonetheless, Colorado’s General Assembly has set the limit for non-economic damages in most (but not all) negligence cases at $468,010.00 (C.R.S. §13-21-102.5(3)(a)) for any one victim in any one case. Only if the Court also finds by clear and convincing evidence may the cap be exceeded. Even if that happens, which is rare, the maximum amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded is $936,030.00.

Caps Adjusted for Inflation

Colorado’s Secretary of State has for years adjusted for inflation the various limits on recovery set forth in the Colorado Statutes addressing caps. Experienced Boulder personal injury attorneys know that the most recent adjustment occurred in 2015, and can be found here.

Wrongful Death Caps and Felonious Killing

Colorado’s General Assembly has also set specific caps for specific types of cases. For example, in a Wrongful Death case the cap on non-economic damages is set at $436,070.00, unless the wrongful death is found to be a “Felonious Killing,” in which case there is no cap on wrongful death damages. (C.R.S. § 13-21-203(1)).

Dram Shop Caps on Liability of a Bar or Restaurant for Overserving Alcohol

“Dram Shop” claims are also subject to caps. Dram Shop claims can be brought against those who knowingly or willfully serve alcohol (“liquor licensees”) to someone who is visibly intoxicated, or under the age of 21, who then hurts someone. At Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC we know that in these situations Colorado law limits the total recovery to $280,810.00 (C.R.S. § 12-47-801). However, a skilled Boulder personal injury attorney also knows that there are often other insurance policies available where a Dram Shop violation has occurred. To illustrate, if a Dram Shop violation results in a drunk driving crash then it is highly likely that the insurance policies from both vehicles are in play in addition to the Dram Shop liability of the tavern, bar, or restaurant that served drunk driver alcohol.

Caps on Claims Against the Government

Caps also apply to governmental entities. Generally speaking, governments are immune from liability when they do something wrong. Colorado’s General Assembly has carved out certain exceptions, however. For example, if a governmental employee is driving negligently and hurts someone, the injured person may recover against the government. A seasoned Boulder personal injury attorney will understand that the amount recoverable against the government is capped at $350,000.00 per person, or at $990,000.00 if more than one person has been hurt. (C.R.S. § 24-10-114(1)(a)(I),(II). These caps apply regardless of the severity of the damage caused by the government’s negligence.

Caps and limitations on damages apply in many more situations in addition to those described above. An experienced Boulder personal injury attorney can advise you whether a cap applies to your case, and whether there are ways to minimize the impact of a cap on damages.

We Can Help You

Here at Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC we are Boulder personal injury attorneys with the resources, knowledge and experience to handle most personal injury cases, and we encourage you to reach out to us at 303-543-1000 for a free consultation to see whether we can help you.