In April 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) signed Senate Bill 19-109 into law, increasing Colorado’s statutory damages caps for the first time in more than a decade. More specifically, the law increases damages for noneconomic loss or injuries, derivative noneconomic loss, wrongful death, dram shop/social host matters, and solatium (an alternative damages amount in wrongful death matters). These increases are to account for “the cumulative annual adjustment for inflation” since caps were last adjusted in 2008.
These new damages caps apply only “to claims for relief that accrue on and after January 1, 2020, and before … January 1, 2022.” The present caps for claims accruing before January 1, 2020, remain unchanged. Thus, the caps in pending matters should not be affected.
The new cap amounts for claims accruing on or before January 1, 2020, are as follows:¹
- For Noneconomic Loss or Injury: $613,760, which can be increased by the court upon clear and convincing evidence to a maximum of $1,227,530. See R.S. 13-21-102.5(3)(a)² (This is an increase from the previous cap of $468,010 and $936,030.)
- For Derivative Noneconomic Loss or Injury: $613,760. See R.S. 13-21-102.5(3)(b). (This is an increase from the previous cap of $468,010.)
- For Noneconomic Loss in Wrongful Death Actions: $571,870. See R.S. 12-21-203(1). (This is an increase from the previous cap of $436,070.)
- For Dram Shop Act Claims: $368,260. See R.S. 12-47-801. (This is an increase from the previous cap of $280,810.)
- For Solatium Damages: $114,370. See R.S. 13-21-203.5. (This is an increase from the previous solatium amount of $68,250.)
Another important provision in the new law is that it requires that the damages caps be adjusted every two years. This means that on January 1, 2022, and every two years thereafter in perpetuity, Colorado’s damages caps will increase again.