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Can Corporations Be Liable for Punitive Damages in Colorado?

Posted by Michael P. Kane | Jun 10, 2024 | 0 Comments

In addition to punitive damages against individuals, corporations in Colorado can be held liable for punitive damages. In this post, we'll discuss the law surrounding corporate punitive damages and how injured victims in Colorado can pursue them.

For a summary of what punitive damages are and when they apply, see here.

Corporate punitive damages explained. Unlike individual punitive damages, Colorado law requires a number of factors in order to successfully pursue punitive damages against a company. First, the person who injured the victim must have been working at the time the injury occurred (in the "course and scope of employment"). Examples include commercial truck drivers operating an 18-wheeler; delivery drivers; child care or nursing home workers on the job etc. 

Second, you must prove that the individual himself or herself acted in a reckless manner causing the injury to occur. Normally, a company cannot be held responsible for the reckless acts of its employees. However, if the company authorized or approved the reckless conduct of its employee, it can. A corporation can also be held liable for punitive damages if it recklessly retained an employee it knew was unfit to perform his or her duties and then the employee hurt someone on the job.

How do you prove corporate punitive damages? A skilled plaintiff lawyer will investigate the circumstances of the incident to determine what the company knew about the employee beforehand, how the company trained the employee, and what the company did after the injury occurred. One common way to prove punitive damages against a company in Colorado is if the corporation didn't discipline or terminate the reckless employee after hurting someone (called "ratification"). For example, if an employer learned its employee drove recklessly in violation of policy and hurt someone and didn't counsel or discipline the driver and let them continue driving for them, they've ratified the reckless behavior. And believe it or not, we've seen that more times than we can count.  

The practical effect of corporate punitive damages. If your case goes to trial, your lawyer can show the jury not only the employee's reckless conduct, but also how poorly the company acted as well. And the jury can decide to award punitive damages against the corporation in addition to the individual employee. 

Proving punitive damages against a company is difficult and won't always apply but an experienced plaintiff lawyer will know how to pursue those claims on your behalf. If you've been hurt by someone on the job in Colorado and have any questions about whether the company might be responsible as well, please contact Kane Trial Law at 303-919-7777 for a free consultation. 

About the Author

Michael P. Kane

Mike Kane is a Colorado personal injury attorney specializing in car accidents, truck accidents and catastrophic personal injury litigation. He also represents victims of sexual assault against institutions and individuals. Mr. Kane, a third-generation lawyer and Colorado native, is a former US Marine who served a tour in support of Operation I...

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