If another person’s negligence has left you seriously injured, no jury award can erase the trauma of the incident, remove the pain, or restore your mobility. Although juries and judges cannot undo the pain and suffering you have experienced, they do have the authority to award monetary damages when the defendant in your case is proven to be liable for your injuries and other losses.
Under O.C.G.A. § 9-10-184 (2016), “In the trial of a civil action for personal injuries, counsel shall be allowed to argue the worth or monetary value of pain and suffering to the jury; provided, however, that any such argument shall conform to the evidence or reasonable deductions from the evidence in the case.”
“Pain and suffering” is a relatively abstract, subjective term. In Georgia, the courts have issued guidance regarding the specific factors to be evaluated by juries and judges when attempting to convert pain and suffering into a monetary value.
These factors have been outlined succinctly by the Georgia Court of Appeals in Food Lion v. Williams, 219 Ga. App. 352 (1995). This decision specifies a number of elements that may be considered when awarding damages for pain and suffering, including:
- Impairment of bodily health and vigor
- Interference with normal living
- Diminished capacity to work and earn money
- Interference with enjoyment of life
- Actual pain and suffering experienced (past and future)
- Fear experienced regarding the extent of the personal injury
- Mental anguish experienced (past and future)
- Shock of the injury’s impact
Proving the extent of your pain and suffering
Although you may not always be able to “show” a jury or judge your pain and suffering – as you can demonstrate the results of a serious burn injury, loss of a limb, or other catastrophic injury – you are able to provide them with important information to support your case. This evidence may include medical documents and other evidence of how your pain and suffering impacts your daily routine, limits your physical capabilities, and prevents you from enjoying various aspects of your life as you did prior to your injury.
The testimony of your doctors including their observations and conclusions of your condition may also bolster your claim. If you are undergoing treatment with a counselor or therapist, his or her testimony will be important, because not all pain and suffering is physical.
Although documentation and testimony of medical professionals is important, your personal testimony may provide the most vivid picture of how your injury has disrupted your life. In this testimony, you can describe your struggles and feelings. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to offer testimony regarding specific examples of how the injury has changed your life and taken away physical and/or mental capabilities that many of us take for granted every day.
Character witnesses, such as loved ones, friends, or work colleagues, can also provide testimony regarding the impact the injury has had on your life. They can help the jury or judge see your struggles from another first-hand perspective.
Other evidence that may be gathered to prove pain and suffering in your claim include:
- Photographs of you before and after the injury
- Journals or other contemporaneous records that detailed your physical and emotional condition over the days, weeks, and months since your injury
- Videos of you at different times that give a sense of the impact of the injury and the resulting struggles you go through on an average day
- Any testimony or records from mental health professionals who have assessed your condition
No limit on pain and suffering damages in Georgia
The state of Georgia does not restrict the amount of damages available to plaintiffs for pain and suffering in personal injury litigation. As a result, some personal injury lawsuits may result in jury awards for pain and suffering that significantly surpass the award provided for economic damages, such as lost wages, medical bills, and other monetary expenses.
If you or your loved one has sustained a serious injury due to the negligence or recklessness of another party, the personal injury attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP want to hear from you. We are ready to advocate on your behalf for the financial compensation you need at this time, including any recovery you are owed for pain and suffering. To arrange a free, initial consultation about your case, call our law office in Atlanta at 404.998.8847 or in Savannah at 912.417.3774. Or, complete our convenient contact form to send us a request.