What are Non-Economic Damage Caps in Colorado? How to increase them in 2024 | Ep: 208

March 11, 2024

Colorado Springs

(719) 309-3000

Grand Junction

(970) 287-1173

In this eye-opening episode, Dr. Ramos delves into the stark reality faced by victims of personal injury within Colorado’s legal landscape. He uncovers the discrepancies between jury awards and the actual compensation victims receive due to stringent state-imposed non-economic damage caps. Through real-life examples, Dr. Ramos illustrates the profound impact these caps have on individuals’ lives, highlighting the often insurmountable challenges they face in seeking justice and fair compensation.

As we navigate through the intricacies of Colorado’s legal system, Dr. Ramos calls for an urgent reassessment of these outdated laws. He passionately argues for the empowerment of juries to make decisions that truly reflect the damages incurred by victims, advocating for legislative change that honors the verdicts of our community members.

Join us on this compelling journey as we explore the implications of non-economic damage caps and the critical need for reform. This episode is not just a call to action; it’s a heartfelt plea for compassion, fairness, and the respect of human dignity in the face of adversity. Whether you’re a legal professional, a medical practitioner, or simply someone who believes in justice, this discussion promises to enlighten and inspire. Together, let’s explore how we can dismantle barriers and foster a legal system that genuinely serves the interests of those it’s meant to protect.

Colorado’s Damage Caps: Undermining Justice, Not Stabilizing Costs

Colorado’s damage caps were implemented in the mid-1980s during a period of economic downturn. Advocates, primarily insurance companies, argued that caps would stabilize insurance rates and ensure the affordability of coverage. However, as Colorado’s own Judicial Branch analysis highlights in their 2006 Tort & Insurance Law Overview, this promise remains unfulfilled.

The Overview reveals several compelling points:

  • No Correlation between Caps and Premiums: States without damage caps don’t consistently experience higher insurance premiums. Data indicates no clear link between caps and insurance costs.
  • Undermining Justice: Caps create arbitrary distinctions between cases. For example, someone catastrophically injured in a car accident is deemed more valuable than a victim of medical malpractice suffering equal lifelong harm.
  • Jurors Silenced: Caps take the power to determine fair compensation away from Colorado juries, who hear the unique circumstances of each case. Before caps, jurors were trusted with this responsibility.

The experience in Colorado reflects a broader nationwide trend: damage caps primarily benefit insurance companies while failing to deliver on their claimed benefits or serving the interests of justice.

Decades of evidence demonstrate that Colorado’s damage caps weren’t the solution they were promised to be. It’s time to reexamine these laws and restore the right of Coloradans to seek fair compensation when their lives are irrevocably harmed. Reference CO. Judicial Branch  

What are the official Colorado damage caps for injuries or wrongful deaths that occurred between January 1, 2024, and December 31, 2025?

  • Cap on Non-Economic Damages for Personal Injury:$437,880

    • This cap applies to non-economic damages in personal injury cases, covering pain and suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, and other intangible losses.
  • Cap on Non-Economic Damages with Potential for Increase:$729,790

    • This amount can be increased to $1,459,600 with clear and convincing evidence. It signifies the general cap that can be doubled if the plaintiff provides substantial proof of the damages’ impact.
  • Cap on Non-Economic Damages for Wrongful Death:: $679,990

    • This cap is specifically for non-economic damages in wrongful death cases, such as the loss of companionship, pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death, and emotional stress.
  • Fixed Solatium Amount: $135,990

    • The solatium amount is a fixed compensation for grief or sorrow that does not require detailed proof of non-economic loss in wrongful death cases.

The Impact of Statutory Damage Caps on Medical Malpractice Claims in Colorado

Medical malpractice victims in Colorado face an additional hurdle in their pursuit of justice: statutory damage caps. These caps significantly limit the amount of compensation a patient can receive, even in cases of severe negligence.

Key Points:

  • Non-Economic Damage Cap: Colorado limits non-economic damages (pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc.) in medical malpractice cases to $300,000. However, it’s important to note that while it can potentially be doubled to $600,000 with clear and convincing evidence, this is a difficult standard to meet and rarely granted by the courts.
  • Total Damage Cap: The overall cap on damages (including economic losses) in a medical malpractice case is $1 million.
  • Impact: These caps can leave victims of serious medical negligence without the full compensation they are awarded and need to cover long-term care costs, lost income potential, and the intangible losses associated with their injuries.

Example Scenario: 

A surgeon’s negligence during a routine procedure leaves a patient permanently paralyzed. The patient experiences immense physical pain, emotional trauma, and requires a lifetime of expensive medical care. Their ability to earn an income is also severely diminished.

  • Potential Losses: The jury finds the surgeon liable and awards $500,000 in economic damages (medical expenses, lost wages) and $1 million in non-economic damages (pain and suffering).
  • Impact of Caps: Due to Colorado’s caps, the patient’s total compensation will be reduced to $1 million. Their non-economic damages will be cut down to $300,000. This may not adequately cover their long-term needs or fully compensate them for the intangible suffering they will endure.

FAQ Non-Economic Damage Caps

Colorado law places limits or “caps” on the amount of compensation that can be awarded in certain types of personal injury lawsuits. These caps are adjusted periodically to account for inflation. This resource page summarizes how those caps have changed over time. DOWNLOAD PDF

In 2019, the Governor of Colorado approved Senate Bill 19-109, increasing the limits on recoverable non-economic damages to adjust for inflation until 2022. This marks the first increase in caps since 2008. As per the new legislation, the caps will rise annually for inflation from January 1, 2020, and continue to be adjusted each January 1st for the subsequent two years. These adjustments will impact claims accruing on or after January 1, 2020. DOWNLOAD PDF– 1998-2025 Colorado Non-Economic Damage Caps

Colorado Ballot Proposal 2023-2024 #150 - Damages Involving Catastrophic Injury or Wrongful Death

ELECTION YEAR: 2024 CURRANT STATUS: Review and Comment Hearing Held STATUE  INITATIVE UPDATES: 2023-2024 Initiative Filings, Agendas & Results
  • Text of Measure – The text of the measure reflects the language filed with the Legislative Council Staff for review and comment in accordance with constitutional and statutory requirements.
  • Review & Comment Memorandum – The review and comment memorandum provides the comments of the Legislative Council Staff and Office of Legislative Legal Services and is presented at a public meeting with the designated representatives of the measure.
  • Fiscal Summary Document – his document briefly describes the fiscal impacts of the measure on the state and local governments, as well as its potential economic impacts.
The text of the measure may change when it is submitted to the Title Board. Text filed with the Title Board, along with Title Board schedules and status, can be obtained from the Secretary of State at https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Initiatives/titleBoard/index.html

Secretary of State – Colorado Damage Caps Information

Official resource from the Colorado Secretary of State for the latest damage cap adjustment certificates.

Meet The Contributors

Jim Hoven

Director of Operations

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Joseph Ramos, MD, JD


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