Punitive Damages

When you are injured because of another party’s intentional torts, negligence, or other wrongdoing, you can recover damages. Monetary damages are the court’s remedy for your financial losses, pain, and suffering. In limited cases, a person may receive punitive damages in addition to their compensatory damages.

What Are Punitive Damages in a Colorado Personal Injury Case?

What Are Punitive Damages in a Colorado Personal Injury Case?

Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are awarded in rare personal injury lawsuits. A jury awards punitive damages to “punish” the defendant (at-fault party) for their wrongdoing. The money is paid to the plaintiff (injured party).

However, punitive damages are only awarded in a small number of personal injury cases. Colorado Revised Statute §13-21-102 requires that the plaintiff prove the defendant’s actions included malice, fraud, or willful and wanton conduct. 

The law defines willful and wanton conduct as:

If the jury believes the above to be true, the jury may award a reasonable amount for punitive damages. However, the amount awarded by the jury shall not exceed the amount of the compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff. Compensatory damages include economic and non-economic damages

In most cases, a claim for punitive damages cannot be included in the initial complaint filed by the plaintiff. Instead, the complaint may be amended after the exchange of initial discovery upon court approval. 

A Judge Can Change the Amount of Punitive Damages Awarded in a Colorado Personal Injury Case

Judges have the discretion to modify an award for punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit. The court can decrease or void a punitive damages award if the judge finds:

A judge may increase the amount of punitive damages awarded by the jury. The total punitive damages cannot exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages. Judges may increase punitive damages if:

Unless otherwise allowed by law, punitive damages are not awarded in arbitration or administrative proceedings. Additionally, evidence of a party’s net worth or income is not considered in determining whether punitive damages or the amount of punitive damages is appropriate. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Punitive Damages in a Lakewood Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Your punitive damages are part of your personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, the same statute of limitations applies to punitive damages as the other damages in your personal injury lawsuit.

A statute of limitations restricts the time a person has to file a lawsuit. If you file a personal injury lawsuit after time expires, the court can dismiss your lawsuit.

Most personal injury lawsuits have a two-year statute of limitations in Colorado, including dog bites, medical malpractice, slip and fall accidents, and other general negligence claims. Most claims begin with the date of injury.

However, there are some exceptions to the statute of limitations. For example, if your injuries were caused by a car accident or other motor vehicle collision, the statute of limitations is three years from the accident date. However, if your case involves a government entity, the filing deadline for a claim is just a few months after the accident. 

These and other exceptions to the statute of limitations can change the deadline for filing a claim. It is best to speak with an experienced Lakewood personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an injury.

Punitive Damages Versus Compensatory Damages in a Colorado Personal Injury Lawsuit

Damages are not guaranteed. You must prove your case to recover damages. However, if you prove the other party is responsible for causing your injuries, you can receive compensatory damages. 

Compensatory damages include non-economic and economic damages, including:

Punitive damages do not compensate you for your losses. They are solely awarded to punish a defendant (though they do still go to you, nonetheless). Our accident attorneys will help you maximize your damages to put as much money in your pocket as possible. 

Contact Us for a Free Consultation With Our Lakewood Personal Injury Lawyers

Our Lakewood personal injury attorneys at Matos Personal Injury Lawyers review all cases for punitive damages. We work to maximize the compensation you receive for your personal injury claim. Call our office at 720) 912 7274 to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our attorneys.