Wrongful Death Caps in Colorado

Jerry Bowman, Owner and Managing Attorney

Wrongful Death
August 19, 2022
Wrongful Death Caps in Colorado

Colorado’s Wrongful Death Act was enacted by the Colorado General Assembly to provide a statutory right of compensation following a wrongful death. The law outlined permissible damages available to survivors of a decedent, which includes non-economic losses such as grief, loss of companionship, impairment of the quality of life, inconvenience, pain and suffering and emotional stress. Notwithstanding the significant damages that stem from a loved one’s death, the law limited the non-economic damages in wrongful death claims. Prior to January 1, 2020, non-economic damages were capped at $430,070.00.

In 2020, the Colorado General Assembly amended the law to increase the non-economic caps recoverable in wrongful death claims. For the first time in 12 years, Colorado took measures to account for the cumulative effects of inflation in wrongful death claims. The initial increase commenced on January 1, 2020, for claims accruing through January 1, 2022, with a cap for non-economic damages of $571,870.00. As of the beginning of this year, the cap increased to $613,760.00.

Are There Caps on Economic Damages?

There are no caps on economic damages in Colorado, with the exception of causes of action involving medical malpractice and dram shop cases. Economic damages are the quantifiable expenses following a collision, such as accrued medical bills, future medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and property damage. In theory, there are no caps on economic damages because they are more definitive and provable than non-economic damages.

Are There Caps on Permanent Impairment and Disfigurement?

There are no caps on permanent impairment and disfigurement damages in Colorado. Unfortunately, there is not a widely accepted definition for permanent physical impairment under Colorado law. However, it can be argued that physical impairment and disfigurement damages are the most serious and damaging consequences of a negligent party’s misconduct. When someone tortuously inflicts a permanent injury onto another, that person has taken away something valuable which is independent and different from other recognized elements of damages, such as economic damages or pain and suffering. For this invasion, the injured party should be awarded a separate sum in addition to the compensation for the other elements and such recovery should be proportional to the severity of the injury. The principle that a victim of a personal injury is entitled to have a sound body and mind provides the rationale for this sentiment.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Colorado Wrongful Death Case?

If you have a potential Colorado wrongful death case, you should contact a qualified wrongful death attorney in Colorado. Wrongful death cases can be complicated, and the attorneys at Bowman Law can explain how the law might apply to your specific situation.