Georgia personal injury laws provide victims a legal cause of action to recover financial compensation for the damages caused by another party. For example, the victims of a car accident or slip and fall accident can sue the responsible party to recover money for their pain and suffering, as well as their financial losses.
The types of damages available in personal injury cases generally fall into one of three categories. The amount of compensation you receive for each of the damages depends on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Let’s review each of the types of damages you might claim after being injured in an accident. We will then discuss how to calculate the value of those damages for a personal injury claim.
Because each case is unique, the damages in your case may not include all of the damages listed below. Likewise, you might have additional damages to include in a personal injury claim.
The three types of damages in most personal injury claims are:
1. Economic Damages
Economic damages refer to the financial losses incurred by the accident victim. It can include out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident or your injuries. Economic damages may also include bills that you receive from third parties related to the accident.
Examples of economic damages in a personal injury case include:
Reimbursement of Medical Bills and Expenses
In most personal injury cases, you are entitled to full reimbursement for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment incurred because of the accident.
Medical expenses include doctors’ bills, surgeries, hospital costs, physical therapy, and other bills from medical providers. It also includes the cost of medications, medical supplies, and medical equipment.
Careful documentation is required to ensure you receive full reimbursement for all medical costs.
Compensation for Lost Income and Benefits
If you cannot work because of your accident injuries, you are entitled to reimbursement for your lost income. Lost income can include wages, salaries, and self-employment earnings. It may also include commissions, bonuses, and benefits.
Victims who sustain permanent impairments or disabilities may be entitled to compensation for future loss of income. If you can work, but your impairment prevents you from earning the same income as before the accident, you can include a claim for damages related to diminished earning capacity.
Property damage is also included in personal injury claims. Property damage claims are generally settled early in the case. The most common type of property damage claim is vehicle damage caused by a traffic accident.
However, if any personal property was damaged because of the accident, you can include the repair cost or the item’s value (if a total loss) in your property damage claim. For example, you could include your cell phone’s value if it were destroyed in a truck accident.
Other Out-of-Pocket Expenses
There could be other financial losses included in your personal injury claim, depending on your circumstances. Examples of other economic losses included in injury claims are:
- Personal care costs, such as help with bathing, household chores, cooking, etc.
- In-home health care costs
- Travel expenses to and from doctor visits
- Modifications to your home or vehicle because of a permanent disability
- Special medical equipment or prosthesis
Be sure to keep careful documentation of any expenses or costs incurred because of the accident. You must have proof of all economic losses to include the amounts in your settlement demand.
2. Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages include the pain and suffering an accident victim experiences because of the accident and injuries. These damages are subjective because each person suffers differently. Therefore, it can be challenging to calculate the value of pain and suffering damages.
Keeping a journal detailing your struggle to recover from accident injuries can improve your chance of receiving maximum value for your non-economic damages. Details such as activities you cannot perform, your daily pain levels, bouts of depression, and the impact on your relationships with loved ones are helpful details your personal injury attorney can use when arguing for maximum compensation.
Examples of non-economic damages included in a personal injury case are:
Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages include your physical pain and discomfort. It also includes your emotional distress and mental anguish. Psychological damages may include embarrassment, anxiety, depression, and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Permanent Impairments and Disabilities
If you sustain a disabling condition, impairment, scarring, or disfigurement, you are entitled to compensation for that condition. The amount of compensation is based on the type and severity of the disability or impairment.
Loss of Quality of Life or Enjoyment of Life
Permanent impairments can significantly reduce your quality of life. For example, a person who sustains a spinal cord injury in a motorcycle crash may be paralyzed. A person who sustains a traumatic brain injury in a construction accident might develop cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities.
These individuals would be unable to enjoy the same activities and freedom as they did before the accident. They deserve compensation for the impact the accident has on their lives.
3. Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are only available in a few types of personal injury cases. This type of damage is awarded to “punish” the responsible party and deter the party from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
The victim must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with malice, willful misconduct, wantonness, fraud, oppression, or conscious indifference to the consequences of his actions. It is a high standard of proof.
Calculating the Value of Damages in a Personal Injury Case
The value of your personal injury claim depends on numerous factors. Some of the factors that impact the value of your claim include:
- The type and severity of your injuries
- The parties involved in the claim
- Your total financial damages
- Whether you sustained a permanent impairment
- The amount of insurance available for your claim
- Whether you contributed to the cause of the accident
Economic damages are generally the total of all financial losses related to the accident. Pain and suffering damages are more challenging to calculate.
A common way to calculate non-economic damages is by multiplying the total economic damages by a value between 1.5 and five. The multiplier is based on your injuries and other factors in the case.
An insurance company always tries to pay the lowest amount possible to resolve a personal injury claim. It will use whatever means available to reduce its liability for your claim.
Experienced personal injury lawyers understand the tricks used by insurance providers to undervalue injury claims. They also understand how to use the evidence in your case to maximize the value of your claim.
When necessary, an attorney may retain medical and financial professionals to offer expert testimony regarding the extent and value of your damages, including future damages.
Call Our Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If a negligent person caused your injury, you deserve compensation for your pain, suffering, and financial losses. Contact our office to schedule a free case review with an Atlanta personal injury attorney. Learn about your legal rights and your options for recovering the money you deserve after an accident.