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Compromise Reached by Business and Medical Groups on Noneconomic Damage, Wrongful Death Caps

GLORIA SCHOCHMillerCoorsCommunity Commerce & Partnership Manager
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DENVER – The Colorado Chamber of Commerce, the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), and Coloradans Protecting Patients Access (CPPA) today announced a legislative compromise that will lead to the withdrawal of several pending ballot initiatives that would have removed noneconomic damage and wrongful death caps in Colorado. Removing such caps would have resulted in a $2.1 billion annual loss in GDP and 15,500 lost jobs according to a recent report released by the Chamber and APCIA.

As part of the deal struck with business groups, the Governor’s Office, legislative leadership and the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, House Bill 1472 would increase noneconomic damage caps to $1.5 million for general liability and $875,000 for medical malpractice. The bill would also make changes to wrongful death damages and definitions and adjust caps for inflation every two years. All dueling ballot initiatives filed by the trial lawyers and business groups on damage awards will be withdrawn, including a controversial proposal to completely remove damage caps in the state.

“Efforts to remove noneconomic damage caps would have had a detrimental impact on Colorado’s competitiveness, making it even more expensive to live and do business here,” said Colorado Chamber President and CEO Loren Furman. “We’re pleased that after months of work to find an agreement, this proposal will provide the predictability and stability employers need, avoiding an expensive fight at the ballot. The Colorado Chamber is committed to improving the state’s business and legal climate, and we appreciate the work of the Governor’s Office and legislative leadership for working with us to help take these costly measures off the table.”

Noneconomic damage caps are the portion of damages awarded in civil cases that attempt to compensate for an injured person’s emotional distress and suffering related to an accident. These are separate from economic damages, which seek to restore an injured person to their original financial condition. Removing noneconomic damage caps has recently been the focus of several ballot initiatives and legislative proposals in Colorado.

“Removing the caps on noneconomic damages would have been a $2.1 billion hit to our state economy. That would have been felt by businesses and consumers alike in the form of increased prices for goods and services, higher insurance rates, and lost jobs,” said Lyn Elliott, APCIA vice president for state government relations. “This deal strikes the balance needed to prevent further deterioration of our legal and fiscal environment.”

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Polis and our bill sponsors, a key group of interested parties reached a consensus on changes that will safeguard Colorado’s stable medical liability laws. This agreement protects laws that allow for the review and improvement of care delivery and Colorado’s status as the best state to receive quality patient care,” said Tamra Ward, CPPA Executive Director.

The economic and fiscal losses laid out in the joint Colorado Chamber and APCIA report outlined an annual cost of $921 per household if noneconomic damage caps were removed. The reduction in business activity would have also resulted in over $100 million in lost tax revenue to the state and $78 million to local governments. View the full report here.

To view HB 1472, please click here.


The Colorado Chamber of Commerce champions free enterprise, a healthy business environment and economic prosperity for all Coloradans. It is the only business association that works to improve the business climate for all sizes of business from a statewide, multi-industry perspective. What the Colorado Chamber accomplishes is good for all businesses, and that’s good for the state’s economy. It was created in 1965 based on the merger with the Colorado Manufacturers’ Association.

The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) is the primary national trade association for home, auto, and business insurers. APCIA promotes and protects the viability of private competition for the benefit of consumers and insurers, with a legacy dating back 150 years. APCIA members represent all sizes, structures, and regions—protecting families, communities, and businesses in the U.S. and across the globe.

Coloradans Protecting Patient Access (CPPA) is a broad coalition of Colorado-based organizations who advocate for a stable and predictable medical liability environment by monitoring the courts, advocating at the General Assembly and engaging on relevant ballot measures.