The lingering psychological effects of a car accident should not be overlooked or dismissed.
Depression, for example, is very common among crash victims, especially those who suffer a catastrophic or life-altering injury.
Non-economic damages are allowed under Colorado law as part of personal injury lawsuits. These damages cover things like pain and suffering as well as emotional distress, depression, and anxiety.
If you’ve been in a crash and you feel perpetually sad, anxious, or unable to enjoy activities you once loved as a result, you should and can be compensated for your suffering.
What Are Non-Economic Damages?
Generally, there are two types of damages available to victims who file a personal injury lawsuit: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are most common and they replace tangible losses like damaged property, lost wages, and medical expenses.
Non-economic damages, however, are not so easily calculated as they are not monetarily quantifiable. In Colorado, compensation for non-economic damages covers things like:
- Pain and/or suffering
- Scarring and/or disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Inability to engage in prior activities
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- General loss of enjoyment of life
If a car crash victim develops chronic depression or feels anxious every time they drive to work, what is the real cost to the victim? How much should the victim be compensated for this burden?
These questions, if left only to an insurance company to answer, can easily be overlooked or dismissed. Should you settle your claim without talking to an experienced injury lawyer or medical provider, you and your family could be sacrificing important compensation.
How Do I Prove Depression, Pain, or Emotional Anguish?
Non-economic damages like depression, pain, or mental anguish can be proven in several ways:
- Psychological evaluation or treatment provided by a medical provider, therapist, counselor, or religious leader
- Medical treatment for pain caused by the injury or accident
- Permanent or long-term disfigurement
- Amputation or loss of limb
- Proof that hobbies and/or lifestyle can no longer be enjoyed the same way they once were
- Loss of enjoyment of life (e.g., inability to play with children or have sex with a spouse, partner, etc.)
While professional mental health counseling is not required to pursue compensation, it can certainly help build a case. A medical professional can provide important documentation that establishes chronic conditions like insomnia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental conditions.
Even without a physical injury, pain and suffering damages can still be recovered in Colorado. There are, however, caps, or limitations, for how much compensation can be awarded for non-economic damages.
For example, in Colorado, medical malpractice cases have a $300,000 cap for non-economic damages. Generally speaking, most personal injury cases cap non-economic damages at about $250,000.
There are rare exceptions to this rule, should convincing evidence justify more compensation. For example, there are no caps for cases involving permanent physical impairment.
Are You Suffering From Depression?
It’s okay to feel down, sad, or upset following an accident—that’s normal! However, when these feelings linger for several days or weeks, talk to a family member, counselor, or medical provider for help.
The following symptoms may indicate a depression injury:
- Decreased energy
- Chronic fatigue
- Pain (e.g., aches, cramps, gastrointestinal problems)
- Dramatic weight loss or weight gain
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- Persistent feelings of sadness
- Loss of interest
- Suicidal thoughts
Only you know what’s normal for you. If you find that your feelings and behaviors have significantly shifted following an accident, don’t wait to get help.
In addition to contacting a healthcare provider, an experienced injury lawyer may be able to help you pursue compensation for your suffering. In fact, it’s always a good idea to talk with an attorney after a car accident.
If you rush through negotiations to obtain a quick settlement, you could leave money on the table. An experienced injury lawyer has the foresight needed to ensure all injuries, not just physical ones, are assessed and compensated accordingly.