The physical and emotional aftermath of an injury can be a lot to deal with. Similarly, the legal side of your personal injury can be equally stressful. When pursuing a personal injury claim, a crucial aspect is proving the scope of damages for which you will be compensated. To successfully navigate the legal system and secure fair compensation, there are a number of steps that your Savannah personal injury attorney must follow.
What are damages in a personal injury case?
Damages refers to the injuries suffered, and the monetary compensation awarded to the injured party in a Savannah personal injury case. The purpose of damages is to restore the injured individual, as much as possible, to the position they were in before the accident occurred. In Georgia, damages can be divided into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages: Economic damages are quantifiable losses resulting from the accident. They include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage and any other financial costs directly attributable to the injury suffered. To establish economic damages, it is vital to gather all relevant documentation, such as medical bills, receipts and employment records. These documents serve as evidence and support the monetary value of the damages claimed.
It is important to seek medical attention after your injury, not only to best ensure your wellbeing, but also to create a paper trail to establish the medical treatment you need and what medical procedures you may require moving forward in your recovery process. Aside from the cost of examinations, damages may also include the anticipated costs of future procedures that may be necessary in your recovery.
Non-economic damages: Non-economic damages are more subjective and harder to quantify. However, with an experienced team of personal injury attorneys on your side, your non-economic damages can be clearly defined to the court to better provide for your pain and suffering, emotional distress or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), brought on by your injury.
Calculating non-economic damages in Georgia can be a complex process, and the following are some elements:
- Severity of injuries: The severity of injuries directly correlates with the presumed level of pain and suffering. Although measuring pain and suffering is difficult, attorneys can consult medical professionals and rely on testimonies from friends and family to assess the extent of physical suffering and its impact on the injured individual’s life.
- Potential complications: Medical professionals can provide testimony on the likelihood of future complications resulting from the injury and how these complications may continue to affect your well-being.
- Financial loss: Disabling injuries can lead to financial concerns and mental stress. If your special damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, are significant, it may warrant increased general damages.
With that, let’s look at the two ways that pain and suffering damages are calculated:
- Per diem: This method seeks compensation for each day an individual experiences pain until they have reached maximum recovery. For instance, suppose you suffered a spinal injury in a slip and fall accident. If the court determines that your pain and suffering is valued at $50 per day, and you endured pain for 200 days before reaching maximum recovery, your pain and suffering award would amount to $10,000.
- Multiplier: The multiplier method assigns a value of at least 1.5 times up to 5 times the amount of special damages to determine pain and suffering compensation. Let’s say you were involved in a car accident that resulted in a broken leg and significant emotional distress. If your total economic damages amount to $50,000 and the court decides on a multiplier of 3, your pain and suffering award would be $150,000.
By gathering comprehensive evidence and working with experienced attorneys familiar with the legal landscape in Georgia, individuals can effectively demonstrate the value of the compensation they are entitled to.
What role does an experienced team of personal injury attorneys play in proving the full extent of damages?
Establishing liability: Personal injury cases typically require demonstrating that the defendant owed a duty of care to the injured party, breached that duty and caused the injuries.
Proving causation: In any personal injury case, the victim must prove causation in order to be awarded compensation. This process involves establishing a direct link between the defendant’s negligence and the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. The state of Georgia uses comparative negligence law, meaning that if the injured party is found partially responsible for the accident, their damages are reduced proportionally. If the injured party is found 50% or more responsible, they are barred from recovering damages.
Comparative negligence makes proving causation a more intensive process than in other states. A trusted Savannah personal injury attorney will gather evidence, such as accident reports, witness testimony and expert opinions, to highlight that the defendant’s actions directly caused the injuries. Comparative negligence makes the role of a strong personal injury lawyer even more valuable.
Working with expert witnesses: In personal injury cases, expert witnesses, including medical professionals, accident reconstruction specialists and vocational and economic damages experts, offer professional opinions and testimony regarding your injuries, their impact and long-term financial implications. Experts’ involvement lends credibility to the plaintiff’s claims, reinforcing the need for experienced legal counsel familiar with working alongside these highly skilled experts.
Gathering evidence: To successfully prove damages, it is essential to gather compelling evidence. This may include medical records, photographs of injuries and property damage, surveillance footage, witness statements and any other relevant documentation. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney in Savannah can be invaluable in ensuring that all necessary evidence is properly obtained and presented to the court.
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton (HLM) are prepared to fight for your fair compensation. With the complex Georgia personal injury laws, trust the testimonials from your Savannah neighbors to show how HLM can help bring peace of mind to the legal side of your recovery process.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to another party’s negligence, choose the team of trusted personal injury attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP to fight for you. Call or contact us today at our convenient Savannah office for your consultation.
Steve Lowry is an award-winning litigator who has secured record-setting jury verdicts on behalf of his clients. A passionate advocate for individuals who have been harmed by the actions of others, Steve has won numerous top 10 verdicts in Georgia.
Read more about Stephen G. Lowry here.