When you or a loved one suffer injury in an accident or incident that was not your fault, you are generally eligible to bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. This is true whether you were injured in a car, truck or motorcycle accident, through medical practice, or an accident a work. Your personal injury attorney can help you recover the financial compensation to which you are entitled for your injuries and losses.
Some of this compensation is relatively easy to calculate. This might include adding up expenses such as your medical and hospital bills, lost wages from time off work, and any property loss (for example, a totaled vehicle). These damages also include any physical therapy you may need, as well as compensation if you are unable to return to your job. These are known as special damages, or economic damages.
General damages, on the other hand, are more complex calculations and require the help of an experienced attorney. This type of compensation is meant to help a victim deal with the long-term complications and difficulties associated with a serious accident – also known as non-economic or “pain and suffering” damages.
About pain and suffering compensation
There is no “one size fits all” determination for calculating pain and suffering damages because every case, as well as every person’s experience, is unique. The consequences of every accident and injury will be different for each individual and family. For example:
- Pain is the actual, physical pain a person experiences during and after an injury. Some people may suffer immediate and traumatic pain, and some may develop chronic pain over time. Pain can cause disability, affect a person’s ability to work, and decrease their quality of life. Examples of injuries that can cause a lifetime of pain and disability include spinal cord injuries, limb loss, and traumatic brain injuries.
- Suffering involves the emotional distress related to the accident and injuries. This can include everything from the impact that the accident and injuries had on your relationship with a spouse or family to depression from living with chronic pain. A decreased quality of life due to a severe injury can create a great deal of emotional stress and pain, which our attorneys make an important part of your claim. We understand the importance of mental health to the healing process.
How are pain and suffering damages calculated in Georgia?
Although special damages, such as medical bills and wages, can be easily determined from paystubs and invoices, damages for pain and suffering are much more complicated. However, the court takes several factors into consideration when determining damages for pain and suffering, including:
- The severity of your injuries. It stands to reason that the more catastrophic your injuries, the worse your pain and suffering, and this is generally a safe assumption.
- Your degree of pain. Although it can be difficult to quantify your amount of pain, our attorneys can help by speaking to your medical team about the extent of your injuries and physical suffering. We can also interview friends and family who have firsthand knowledge of how your life has been impacted from the injuries you suffered.
- Potential complications. Your physician can also testify as to the likelihood of complications from your injury, and how these complications may continue affecting you in the future.
- Financial loss. Our attorneys also understand that a disabling injury can cause financial worries and resulting mental stress. If your special damages are significant, you may deserve increased general damages.
The court may also utilize one of two methods to calculate pain and suffering damages:
- The per diem “Per diem” is Latin for “per day,” which means asking for a certain amount of compensation for each day a person has to live with pain from their injury, until they have recovered as much as medically possible. For example, say you were injured in a car accident and needed physical therapy for four months (120 days). With a per diem of $100/day, your pain and suffering award would be $12,000. Please note this is simply an example.
- The multiplier This method assumes the pain and suffering value is equal to at least 1.5 times, and up to 5 times, the value of special (economic) damages. The more severe the injury, the higher the multiplier.
Is there a cap on pain and suffering in GA?
Although many states put a cap on pain and suffering awards and settlements, Georgia does not. Both judges and juries have the discretion to award damages as they see fit. However, because Georgia is a comparative negligence state, as a plaintiff, if you are found 50 percent or more at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, you may be barred from collecting compensation.
This is why it is crucial to have an experienced and strategic attorney on your side when considering legal action after an injury that was not your fault. The attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP understand the complexities of special versus general damages, and how to determine the amount of compensation you both need and deserve – including pain and suffering. Contact us today to talk about how we can help with your case.
One of the nation’s top trial attorneys, Jeff Harris is an award-winning litigator who handles high-profile, complex cases across a wide variety of practice areas. He excels at securing justice for clients who have been seriously injured or killed, holding responsible parties accountable for their actions as well as their negligence.
Read more about Jeffrey R. Harris here.