Colorado Laws on Sexual Misconduct or Assault
Colorado law gives recent and future sexual assault survivors, including those molested as children, unlimited time to sue their abusers. Effective January 1, 2022, Colorado has enacted a new law giving past sexual assault survivors a new cause of action against abusers and those institutions who enabled them.
Under current law, child sex assault victims in Colorado have six years from the day they turn 18 to sue their abusers. Senate Bill 73 gives people for whom that six-year statute of limitations hasn’t run out and anyone abused after Jan. 1, 2022, unlimited time to file a lawsuit against their abuser or abusers. The statute of limitations elimination only applies to felony and Class 1 misdemeanor cases.
Limitations on Damages Generally
Colorado law allows awards of both economic (eg., loss of earning capacity, medical or therapy expenses, disability) and noneconomic damages in sexual assault cases. The economic damages are regardless of the source of payment if reasonably foreseeable and likely to occur (future damages). Noneconomic damages are limited by statute, currently the sum of $613,760, which can be increased by the court upon clear and convincing evidence to a maximum of $1,227,530. See C.R.S. 13-21-102.5(3)(a)(This is an increase from the previous cap of $468,010 and $936,030.). Exemplary or punitive damages are also recoverable in certain cases. See, C.R.S. 13-21-102. (In all civil actions in which damages are assessed by a jury for a wrong done to the person or to personal or real property, and the injury complained of is attended by circumstances of fraud, malice, or willful and wanton conduct, the jury, in addition to the actual damages sustained by such party, may award them reasonable exemplary damages. The amount of such reasonable exemplary damages shall not exceed an amount which is equal to the amount of the actual damages awarded to the injured party.)
Effective Jan. 1, 2022-Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act.
The act creates a statutory cause of action for a victim of sexual misconduct that occurred when the victim was a minor (under 18). The victim may bring a civil claim against the actor who committed the sexual misconduct and against an organization that operates or manages a youth-related activity or program (youth program) if the organization knew or should have known of a risk of sexual misconduct against minors and the sexual misconduct occurred while the victim was participating in a youth program managed by the organization. The act waives sovereign immunity for the claim so a victim may bring a claim against a public employee or public entity that operates a youth program, including an educational entity operating an educational program or a district preschool program.
The cause of action is available to a victim of sexual misconduct that occurred on or after January 1, 1960. A person who was the victim of sexual misconduct that occurred between January 1, 1960, and January 1, 2022, must commence an action before January 1, 2025. There is no limitation on the time to bring a claim for sexual misconduct that occurs on or after January 1, 2022. A person may not, prior to an incident of sexual misconduct, waive the right to bring a civil action; any purported pre-incident waiver is void as against public policy.
Denver Injury Law LLC filed the first case under the new Act in Boulder District Court, Colorado, (McPhee v. Kelly et al., Case No. 2022cv30000) and followed with cases in Arapahoe County (against Saupe v. Aurora Public Schools Rangeview High School and Dave O’Neill Jr. et al., Case No. 2022cv30065) and Douglas County (Stanton v. Highlands Ranch Community Association -Northridge Community Center and William Fearing et al., Case no. 2020cv31001).
Limitations on Damages Under the Act.
A court or jury shall not allocate any damages awarded in the civil action in any proportion against the victim of the sexual misconduct. Any pre-judgment interest on the claim does not begin to accrue until the claim is filed.
The maximum amount that may be recovered for a claim against a public employee or public entity is the limitation on damages set forth in the “Colorado Governmental Immunity Act”. For all other claims, the maximum amount recoverable is $500,000; except that if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant failed to take remedial action against a person that the defendant knew or should have known posed a risk of sexual misconduct against a minor and the court finds that the application of the limitation would be unfair, the court may increase the award to up a maximum of $1,000,000. Exemplary or punitive damages are also recoverable in certain cases. See, C.R.S. 13-21-102. (In all civil actions in which damages are assessed by a jury for a wrong done to the person or to personal or real property, and the injury complained of is attended by circumstances of fraud, malice, or willful and wanton conduct, the jury, in addition to the actual damages sustained by such party, may award them reasonable exemplary damages. The amount of such reasonable exemplary damages shall not exceed an amount which is equal to the amount of the actual damages awarded to the injured party.)
Colorado Top Personal Injury Lawyer James Avery
Denver trial lawyer James Avery has over 35 years experience handling the sensitive and highly charged sexual assault cases, including cases involving minors. Avery is Colorado’s Top Rated Personal Injury Lawyer. Experience counts. Contact Denver Injury Law LLC now to learn your rights and claim options. Call 303-840-2222 or complete the confidential form below: