2021 Colorado Code
Title 13 - Courts and Court Procedure
Article 64 - Health Care Availability Act
Part 3 - Financial Liability Requirements - Limitations
§ 13-64-302.5. Exemplary Damages - Legislative Declaration - Limitations - Distribution of Damages Collected

Universal Citation: CO Code § 13-64-302.5 (2021)
  1. The general assembly hereby finds, determines, and declares that it is in the public interest to establish a consistent and uniformly applicable standard for the determination, amount, imposition, and distribution of exemplary monetary damages arising from civil actions and arbitration proceedings alleging professional negligence in the practice of medicine. It is the intent of the general assembly that any such exemplary damages serve the public purposes of deterring negligent acts and where appropriate provide a form of punishment that is in addition to the disciplinary and licensing sanctions available to the Colorado medical board.
  2. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the exemplary damages provided for in this section and authorized to be imposed upon a health-care professional shall be the only such damages imposed as a result of the negligence claim.
  3. In any civil action or arbitration proceeding alleging negligence against a health-care professional, exemplary damages may not be included in any initial claim for relief. A claim for such exemplary damages may be asserted by amendment to the pleadings only after the substantial completion of discovery and only after the plaintiff establishes prima facie proof of a triable issue. If the court or arbitrator allows such an amendment to the complaint under this subsection (3), it may also, in its discretion, permit additional discovery on the question of exemplary damages.
    1. In any civil action or arbitration proceeding in which compensatory damages are assessed against a health-care professional, the judge or arbitrator, in his discretion, and only if it is shown at the trial or proceeding that the action complained of was attended by circumstances of fraud, malice, or willful and wanton conduct, may allow the trier of fact to impose reasonable exemplary damages, as provided in this subsection (4). The degree of proof shall be as provided in section 13-25-127 (2).
    2. The standards for awarding and the amount of exemplary damages, if imposed upon such health-care professional, shall be as provided in sections 13-21-102 and 13-25-127 (2).
    1. No exemplary damages shall be imposed under subsection (4) of this section which were the result of the use of any drug or product approved for use by any state or federal regulatory agency and used within the approved standards therefor, or used in accordance with standards of prudent health-care professionals.
    2. No exemplary damages shall be imposed under subsection (4) of this section which were the result of the use of any drug or product subject to the provisions of paragraph (a) of this subsection (5) when the clinically justified use of such drug or product is beyond the regulatory approvals or standards therefor and is in accordance with standards of prudent health-care professionals, and when such use has been agreed to pursuant to the written informed consent of the recipient.
  4. No exemplary damages shall be assessed against a health-care professional as a result of the acts of others unless he specifically directed the act to be done or ratified the same.
  5. For the purposes of this section, unless the context otherwise requires, “health-care professional” has the same meaning set forth in section 13-64-202 (4).

History. Source: L. 90: Entire section added, p. 883, § 1, effective July 1. L. 91: (5) amended, p. 376, § 1, effective July 1. L. 2010: (1) amended,(HB 10-1260), ch. 403, p. 1985, § 71, effective July 1.


Trial court's failure to dismiss plaintiffs' claim for exemplary damages from plaintiffs' initial pleading was not reversible error where claim was found to be sufficiently supported to allow its presentation in plaintiffs' case-in-chief. Evans v. Colo. Permanente Medical Group, P.C., 902 P.2d 867 (Colo. App. 1995), aff'd in part and rev'd in part on other grounds, 926 P.2d 1218 (Colo. 1996).

This section plainly limits recovery only against a health care professional or a health care institution. Because the nonparty at fault was neither of those, the court correctly refused to reduce the noneconomic damages award to the statutory limit prior to apportioning fault. Chavez v. Parkview Episcopal Med. Ctr., 32 P.3d 609 (Colo. App. 2001).

Trial court did not err in denying plaintiff's request to amend complaint to seek exemplary damages when materials presented amounted to a prima facia showing of negligence only. Sheron v. Lutheran Med. Ctr., 18 P.3d 796 (Colo. App. 2000).

While this section allows the court, in its discretion, to permit additional discovery on the question of exemplary damages, it does not require the court to permit such discovery or to continue the trial at defendant's request. Reigel v. SavaSeniorCare L.L.C., 292 P.3d 977 (Colo. App. 2011).

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