Colorado Senate Bill 19-109, signed into law in 2020, increased Colorado’s statutory damages caps for noneconomic damages, damages recoverable for dram shop claims, damages recoverable for wrongful death claims, and solatium damages (an alternative damages amount in wrongful death matters) for the first time since 2008.
This increase is intended to account for the cumulative effects of inflation. The first increase occurred on January 1, 2020, for claims which accrued between that date and January 1, 2022. An important aspect of this Act Concerning Adjustments to Limitations on Damages to Reflect Effects of Inflation is that it requires certain damages caps be adjusted every two years. Accordingly, with the turn of this new year, an increase on these damages was recently issued.
The new cap on damages applies only to “claims for relief that accrue on and after January 1, 2022 and before January 1, 2024.” Furthermore, the 2022 adjustment applies only to the statutorily-imposed limitations on noneconomic damages and solatium damages. Damages caps for dram shop claims and wrongful death claims have not been adjusted since their latest increase in 2020. Likewise, the annual rate of interest on appealed money judgments remains the same as last year at 2%.
The new cap for claims accruing between January 1, 2022, and January 1, 2024, are as follows:
- Noneconomic loss or injury: $642,180, which may be increased by the Court upon clear and convincing evidence to a maximum of $1,284,370 (increased from the previous amounts of $613,760 and $1227,530, respectively, for claims accruing between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021).
- Solatium damages: $119,660 (increased from $114,370 for claims accruing between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021).
Additionally, although such increases are not pursuant to the statutory changes imposed by Senate Bill 19-109, the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act, C.R.S. § 24-10-101 et seq., mandates that limitations on judgments against public entities and their employees be adjusted every four years based on an amount reflecting the percentage change over a four-year period in the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index for Denver, Boulder, and Greeley. The previous increase was for the period covering January 1, 2018, and January 1, 2022.
The new damages caps for claims against public entities and their employees accruing between January 1, 2022, and January 1, 2026, are as follows:
- $424,000 for any injury to one person in any single occurrence (increased from the previous amount of $387,000 for claims accruing between January 1, 2018, and January 1, 2022).
- $1,195,000 for any injury to two or more persons in any single occurrence, limited to $424,000 per person (increased from $1,093,000, limited to $387,000 per person for claims accruing between January 1, 2018, and January 1, 2026).
If you have questions about this update, please contact Tucker E. Allen at email@example.com or 303.628.3364.