Posted in Blog on May 8, 2015
“Pain and suffering,” “emotional distress” and “bodily injury” are just some of the familiar references you might hear in a legal discussion surrounding a personal injury lawsuit. These damages fall within one of the two classifications of recovery Colorado recognizes, which are “compensatory” and “punitive.” It’s important to understand the differences between these damages to determine whether you are entitled to one or both after suffering a personal injury.
Compensatory damages are designed to help a victim recover his or her losses resulting from a personal injury incident. This restitution is divided into two sub-categories: economic and hedonic (non-economic).
Economic damages seek to replace the victim’s financial losses that directly result from the injury. Recovery of these damages might include:
These damages are generally easy to account for, as the victim will have receipts for his or her medical bills, a reasonable accounting of lost income, an accounting of the property damaged and, of course, his or her attorney’s bills.
The harder part is establishing and calculating hedonic damages, and this is due to the nature of this type of damage. Because this damage is considered non-economic, there aren’t any tangible records to calculate the victim’s suffering. Regardless, Colorado allows victims to claim hedonic damages, and these are classified as:
Once it has been determined that the plaintiff sustained a personal injury as a result of the defendant’s actions, the court will calculate and award compensatory damages and possibly attorney’s fees. Whether the court awards both economic and non-economic recompense depends on the documentable and non-documentable damages, and victims should know that Colorado caps the amount of hedonic compensatory damages awarded to a plaintiff.
To add insult to personal injury, some people become the victims of an incident due to the intentional act of another. This makes dealing with a personal injury far more difficult, and if the damaging party was maliciously careless, reckless, or sought to harm the victim, the personally injured may also be entitled to punitive damages.
Colorado assesses punitive restitution sparingly, as is it meant to punish the damaging party. In the case of claiming punitive damages, the perpetrator of the injury must have demonstrated the intent of malice, a willful disregard for the health, safety and/or rights of the injured party.
In Colorado, victims of personal injury have the right to be made whole again; state statute allows for this. Whether the entitled damages are only compensatory or both compensatory and punitive, victims should never be afraid to pursue recompense for their losses sustained in a personal injury matter. Call us today for a free consultation. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.