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:
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.
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.
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!