Is There a Cap on Wrongful Death Settlements?

Losing a loved one is a devastating, life-altering event. Despite this, surviving family members often have to try to set their grief aside to deal with practical issues. A surviving spouse may face financial challenges from mounting expenses and loss of income. For dependents, losing a parent could jeopardize their chances of attending college. In some cases, immediate family members may even face homelessness.

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The financial issues stemming from a wrongful death often prompt family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit. State laws allow some relatives to seek damages in wrongful death cases to compensate for their loss. If you’re planning to file a wrongful death claim, you may wonder, is there a cap on wrongful death settlements? How can one determine how much to seek when filing a wrongful death claim? Learning about the damages cap on wrongful death claims in your state and factors impacting settlement amounts will prepare you for what to expect when you hire a wrongful death lawyer to pursue your claim.

What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death case?

Understanding how a damages cap impacts your wrongful death settlement begins with learning about the types of damages you can seek in wrongful death cases. There are three types of damages claimants can pursue when filing wrongful death cases:

  • Economic damages
  • Non-economic damages
  • Punitive damages

Economic Damages

Economic damages are calculable costs related to the person’s death. These costs include the following:

Non-Economic Damages

woman and man grieving over lost one, holding one another

Non-economic damages refer to compensation for the personal and emotional toll you face as a result of losing your loved one. Factors considered when awarding non-economic damages include the following:

  • Grief
  • Loss of consortium
  • Pain and suffering

Punitive Damages

Some states prohibit wrongful death claimants from seeking punitive damages, while others allow punitive damages. Punitive damages don’t center on the practical or personal costs of losing a loved one. Instead, they’re applied to punish the person responsible for the wrongful death.

Claimants in Colorado must prove the responsible party acted without due care and attention and disregarded the safety of others when engaged in the actions leading to the person’s death.

What is a damages cap?

Wrongful death case settlement amounts have limits known as a damages cap. The damages cap determines the maximum amount of financial compensation the claimant may receive for specific damages. Damages caps apply to non-economic and punitive damages only. There usually is no cap on economic damages.

Caps to Financial Awards in Certain States

Each state defines wrongful death, and many states set damages caps for cases involving wrongful death. If you file a wrongful death claim, you’ll be subject to the laws and damages caps in the state where the person’s death occurred. Suppose you’re filing a claim in Hawaii. You will be subject to Hawaii’s pain and suffering damages cap in that case. However, if you’re filing in Utah, you won’t face damages caps.
Since state laws vary, you must contact a wrongful death attorney in the state where you’re filing to discuss the specific wrongful death laws and what damages caps may apply to your claim. In addition to potential damages caps for wrongful death suits, most states also limit damages in medical malpractice cases.

Are there wrongful death caps in Colorado?

Colorado does limit how much compensation you can receive if you have a loved one die due to someone else’s negligence. While economic damages in wrongful death claims usually don’t have a damages cap, Colorado limits compensation for non-economic damages
Colorado allows some claimants to seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are also subject to a damages cap.

How can an attorney assist me with my wrongful death claim? 

Although the aftermath of a loved one’s wrongful death can be overwhelming, you don’t have to face your challenges alone. Contact the law firm of Bachus & Schanker for a free consultation. We’ll help you understand your legal options so you can make an informed decision about filing a wrongful death claim. 

When we take on your case, our legal team handles the research to ensure we build the most robust case possible. We’ll help you calculate how much to seek when filing your claim and file all the required paperwork on your behalf to ensure your case proceeds. Contact our wrongful death attorneys and let our team handle your legal needs to get you all the compensation you deserve


Ryskamp, D.A. (2022). The Current State of State Damage Caps.

What is a damages cap? (2022). 

Wrongful Death Claims. (2022).

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Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus

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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.