Accident victims can sustain bodily injuries. But the harm can affect accident victims beyond physical injuries and property damage. For example, it’s very common for accident survivors to experience emotional pain and suffering.
Colorado allows car accident victims to recover damages through financial compensation. “Pain and suffering” are damages victims can recover through a personal injury claim. If you win your case, pain and suffering can add value to your financial award.
How Does Colorado Define Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a term that covers a broad range of intangible damages in a personal injury case. For example, victims who suffer “non-economic” damages after a car accident can claim pain and suffering as part of their damages. However, if you want to win an award as part of your personal injury lawsuit, pain and suffering must have been a direct result of the accident.
Non-economic damages are those that don’t have a fixed monetary value. They’re also known as general damages. Unlike economic damages, which have a precise numerical value, non-economic damages have a more subjective value.
Examples of pain and suffering damages include;
- Emotional strife
- Non Physical losses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Chronic pain
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life
- Diminished enjoyment in activities that you used to enjoy before the accident
- Loss of consortium
- Grieving the loss of a loved one
An accident survivor experiences emotional pain and suffering for many reasons. Perhaps the shock of the collision left them with PTSD. Or they may have witnessed their loved one die in the accident. Another possibility is that the victim experienced life-altering injuries or permanent disability. Whatever the cause, if you experienced emotional distress directly from the accident, you can seek financial compensation for that loss in your claim.
Are There Any Limits Placed on Pain and Suffering Damages in Colorado?
Colorado and many other states have a cap, or a limit, on the amount of damages you can claim for a personal injury. A cap is a maximum on the financial compensation you can seek for damages. For example, non-economic damages like pain and suffering have the following caps in Colorado:
- The cap is $250,000 (plus inflation) for non-economic damages in most civil cases, which include personal injury cases.
- If the victim has clear and convincing evidence to support their claim, they might be able to recover up to $500,000 more (plus inflation) for non-economic damages.
The jury does not know about the caps, but a judge can impose limits if a jury awards a higher amount than the cap.
There is no cap for economic damages. Examples of economic damages include medical costs and lost wages. There’s also no cap for any cases that involve physical impairment.
Furthermore, Colorado law does not explicitly define permanent physical impairment. However, proving so requires an experienced legal professional familiar with the law.
How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering Damages in a Colorado Personal Injury Claim?
If you want the courts to award damages for emotional pain and suffering, you must have evidence to prove you experienced such losses. Unfortunately, it’s often more challenging to prove pain and suffering than economic losses since there are no bills, receipts, or records to prove how you feel.
The lack of hard evidence means pain and suffering are left to your attorney’s storytelling abilities. A skilled attorney can help you express and present the pain and suffering in a manner that’s clear and convincing to a judge or jury. Most civil actions are proved by a standard of “preponderance of the evidence” rather than “clear and convincing” evidence. While the “clear and convincing” evidence standard of proof is more substantial than the “preponderance of the evidence,” it’s not as strong as proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Your attorney might help show clear and convincing evidence by giving the jury a look into your life.
For example, they might describe your life before the accident and how the injuries have affected your life. Sometimes attorneys use testimony from friends, family, or co-workers who witness such changes. They may even use video footage to help show the extent of pain and suffering you experienced due to the accident. Attorneys are skilled storytellers who have experience in demonstrating the impact of accidents on injury victims’ mental and emotional health.
Another form of evidence that can strengthen your claim is medical records. Whether or not you have physical injuries, obtaining medical records showing pain and suffering is possible. For example, any documentation from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor you saw for emotional distress can support your claim. Or you might have experienced scarring and disfigurement. You can build strong evidence to support your pain and suffering claim with proof of those types of physical losses. Your attorney may also demonstrate the following to show that you’ve experienced pain and suffering:
- Treatment for pain
- Long-term and life-changing disfigurement of the body
- A lost or amputated limb that had a negative mental and physical effect on the victim
- Proof of lost ability to do certain activities (like sports, hobbies, or daily activities)
- Diminished enjoyment in life or loss of enjoyment of companionship
Will Mental Health Counseling Help Me Recover Pain and Suffering Damages?
Getting mental health counseling to recover such damages is not required, but it can help. A mental health professional can serve as expert testimony for your case. They might be able to testify that you experienced symptoms like:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Other symptoms that are not easy to prove or can benefit from expert testimony
Do I Have to Sustain a Physical Injury to Recover from Pain and Suffering Damages?
You don’t necessarily need to sustain a physical injury to recover pain and suffering damages. Sometimes, a jury will consider other factors like:
- The amount of stress you endured
- The shock you experienced as a result of the accident
- How difficult was it for you to recover from the accident?
However, if a person sustains a physical injury, they are more likely to win a higher amount for pain and suffering damages. In addition, the following circumstances might increase pain and suffering award:
- The victim sustained an injury that resulted in permanent disfigurement or life-altering loss of function
- The victim sustained extremely high medical bills
- The victim has proof of injuries through objectively verifiable measures like x-rays and lab testing
- Recovery was difficult and took a long time
How Does a Jury Value a Damage Award for Pain and Suffering?
There are no specific criteria a jury or judge uses to determine an award amount. Instead, a jury will consider many different factors. For starters, they will consider the evidence your attorney presents at trial. That’s why it’s imperative to have quality legal representation to present the extent of your pain and suffering at trial.
Contact a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Our legal team has the experience and resources to win you the maximum settlement for your pain and suffering. We prioritize every client and their needs and take care of all legal proceedings so you can focus on recovery. You should not have to navigate the aftermath of a car accident alone. We respect you and your time, and will communicate with you throughout the entire process.