What Types of Compensation are Available in a Personal Injury Case?

If you have suffered an injury that was caused by the negligent or reckless actions or omissions of another party, you are entitled to compensation, otherwise known as “damages”. The idea is that you should not have to pay for someone else’s wrongdoing, so damages are awarded in order to compensate the victim for his/her losses. Although money is not an ideal form of compensation for all types of losses, it is the best our legal system can do to help make the plaintiff “whole”.

It is important to point out that recovering compensation from a personal injury claim is not an exact science. Rarely do you ever have the responsible party freely write you a check to cover all of your losses in full. Most of the time, you will be dealing with that party’s insurance company, and this will involve a navigating a complicated claims process, negotiation, and in some cases, the need to file a lawsuit.

When an individual suffers moderate to severe injuries or there are complications in the case (such as a question over who was at fault and/or multiple parties that may have contributed to the injury), they are generally better off working with an experienced attorney rather than handling the claim on their own. The goal of an insurance company is to pay out as little as possible for your claim, and their interests are not aligned with yours. Although an attorney receives a contingency fee for their services, statistics show that injury victims who obtain legal representation recover more than three times as much (on average) as those who handle claims on their own.

Types of Compensation in a Georgia Personal Injury Case

Compensatory damages for personal injury claims can be divided into two general categories:

Economic Damages

Also known as “special damages”, economic damages are specific losses that the injury victim suffered because of the responsible party’s actions. These are direct monetary expenses incurred by the victim, such as:

  • Medical Bills (both present and future)
  • Lost Wages
  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Property Damage

Economic damages are fairly straightforward as they generally deal with exact or closely estimated dollar figures, many of which will have receipts attached to them.

Noneconomic Damages

Also known as “general damages”, noneconomic damages are meant to compensate the victim for losses that are more intangible and harder to quantify. These are generally physical and emotional losses that the victim incurs, and because of their subjective nature, assigning a dollar figure to them is more difficult.

Examples of noneconomic damages include:

  • Physical Pain-and-Suffering
  • Mental Anguish
  • Psychological Distress
  • Physical Disfigurement or Impairment
  • Diminished Quality of Life
  • Loss of Consortium
  • Permanent Injury

Various courts and juries calculate noneconomic damages differently, and the amount awarded depends largely on the state of each individual victim and the strength of the arguments presented by the plaintiff’s legal counsel.

Punitive Damages

Beyond those types of damages that are meant to compensate a personal injury victim, there is another category that is applicable in a small number of cases. When the actions of the party responsible for the injury were willful, malicious, fraudulent, or grossly negligent, punitive damages may be awarded. Also known as “exemplary damages”, punitive damages are awarded as “punishment” for the wrongdoing and to help discourage similarly egregious behaviors in the future.

Comparative Negligence and Personal Injury Compensation

Like most other states, Georgia applies a modified form of comparative negligence in personal injury cases. Under state law, an injured party is allowed to recover compensation if they are less than 50% at fault for the underlying accident or event that caused the injury. If they are 50% or more at fault, then they are generally barred from recovering compensation.

Although you can recover compensation even if you are 49% or less at fault, the amount of damages you receive is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault you share. For example, if you suffered a total of $150,000 in losses and you are found to be 20% at fault, your damage award would be reduced by $30,000, down to a total of $120,000.

Contact an Experienced Georgia Personal Injury Attorney

Recovering compensation in a personal injury case is not always a cut and dry process. There are numerous factors that often go into calculating various types of damages, and it is very important to have skilled legal counsel by your side working hard to get you the compensation that you are entitled to.

 

At Stein & Fox Accident Attorneys, we have several years of experience successfully representing personal injury victims in the Atlanta area. We have recovered more than $125 million in verdicts and settlements, and we work closely with our clients to provide the strong personalized representation they need and deserve.

 

To schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team, message us online or call our office today at (770) 961-1700. We look forward to serving you!

How Social Media Use Can Impact a Personal Injury Claim

The vast majority of Americans have at least one social media account, and many people spend a good portion of their day interacting on these platforms. We use them to read up on the latest news, post status updates, post photos of trips and activities we are involved in and read and comment on other people’s posts. For the most part, social media activity is fun and harmless; but when someone is involved in a personal injury claim, what happens on these platforms can come back to haunt them.

The Dangers of Social Media Use during a Personal Injury Case

Imagine that you were driving home from work when someone ran a red light and crashed into your car. The collision jolted you into a state of shock, and you walked away with what you thought were minor injuries. After it is all over, you post some photos of the accident scene on Facebook and you tell your friends that although it was a high-speed collision and your car is totaled, you are going to be okay.

Sounds pretty innocuous, right? A car accident is a fairly traumatic event, so naturally you want to tell your family and friends about it and let them know that you are fine and there is no need to worry. What’s wrong with posting an update like this?

The problem in this scenario is that you may not have known just how serious your injuries were. Oftentimes, the adrenaline rush that occurs right after an accident will mask the pain, and you may not start to feel it until a day or two later. In such a case, that initial Facebook post could hurt your case if the other side uses it to argue that your injuries are not as severe as you claim they are.

The above example just one way that a seemingly innocent social media post could damage an accident injury claim. But the potential problems are not just limited to posts that are made immediately after the accident, those that are made later on can be harmful as well.

For example, let’s say you suffered a severe injury like a fracture that left you laid up for a while. You claim that your losses go beyond just the medical bills, lost earnings, and other economic costs. The injury has caused a lot of physical pain, emotional distress, anxiety about the future, and depression from being stuck at home and not able to participate in activities that you enjoy.

In the midst of all this, your family decides to try to cheer you up by taking you on a vacation to a resort where you can spend some quality time with your loved ones. The trip is just what you needed, and you decide to post some photos of you and your family members laughing and having a good time.

Again, this would seem like a normal thing for someone to do if they are trying to recover from a serious injury. But if the defendant were to get a hold of these photos, they might argue that you are exaggerating the noneconomic losses you have suffered.

One of the major problems with social media posts is that they are very easy to take out of context. A photo you share or get tagged in or a comment you make can often be misconstrued by the other side in order to support their argument.

How Should I Handle Social Media during a Legal Case?

It is important to understand that anything you post on social media is presumed to be public information, and it is all discoverable in a legal case. Although you might have the strictest privacy settings, insurance companies have well-paid investigators who are very tech savvy and able to uncover online information that is not easy for the average person to get a hold of. For these reasons, the very best practice is to stop all social media activity and suspend all of your accounts until your case is over.

If you are unable to stop using social media entirely, at the very least, do not make any posts of your own and do not comment on anyone else’s posts. In addition, ask your family and friends not to tag you in any of their posts. Limit your activity to just reading posts that other people put up, so you do not give the other side any ammunition.

Contact an Experienced Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer

Social media activity is just one of many potential pitfalls that can harm a personal injury claim, and this is why it is not advisable to try to handle a case like this on your own, especially if you have sustained more moderate to severe injuries.

At Stein and Fox, our attorneys have extensive experience successfully representing personal injury victims in Atlanta and the surrounding communities. We have recovered over $125 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients, and we will fight hard to secure maximum compensation in your case. Message us online or call our office today at (770) 961-1700 for a free consultation with a member of our legal team. We look forward to serving you!