Victims of personal injury accidents such as slip and fall, dog bite, or car accident may have legal recourse and may be eligible to file a lawsuit for financial compensation. Many injured victims wonder how much money they are entitled to and how this dollar amount is determined. The answer to these two questions depends on the damages the victim has suffered.
The word ‘damages’ is used to describe loss suffered in one way or another by the victim of another party’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness. The items that figure into a victim’s damages include monetary loss, physical loss, emotional loss, and mental trauma. Damages may also include an amount of money described as punitive damages to punish the negligent defendant and help prevent further similar actions.
Personal injury lawsuits request compensation in the form of money to be given to injury victims by negligent individuals or companies deemed legally liable for the injuries. Often, a settlement amount will eventually be agreed upon by all parties involved (the victim, the defendant, attorneys, and insurance providers). Occasionally, a personal injury case will find its way to trial where a judge or jury will make the final compensation decision.
The Georgia-based legal team at The Eichholz Law Firm has high confidence in handling these cases because we have a successful track record of helping our clients get the maximum compensation. We will thoroughly assess the facts and determine the value of a personal injury claim in Georgia based on the case’s strength and the applicable state laws.
Damages Are the Determining Factor
Individuals involved in an injury accident caused by another’s negligence should be reimbursed for their medical costs, loss of wages, and damaged property. Also, the pain and suffering they’ve endured should be counted and compensated. These damages must be accurately calculated to determine the value of a personal injury claim in Georgia and for plaintiffs to receive a proper settlement or judgment.
Damages are grouped as general damages or special damages and are also referred to as economic or non-economic damages. One way to easily remember the difference between special and general damages is to separate them in the following way:
- General damages can “generally” be tallied to the negligence of the defendant. For example, this would include pain and suffering.
- Special damages are “special” to the individual victim since no other victim will experience the same financial loss.
What Are General Damages?
As further explanation, general damages are categorized as non-monetary and intangible losses with no exact dollar amount. Below is a breakdown.
Types of General Damages
Of course, each personal injury case is unique and has slightly different aspects. However, general damages may include:
- Physical impairment
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Physical disfigurement
- Lower quality of life
- Loss of companionship (if the victim dies)
Calculating General Damages
Calculating a figure that will accurately compensate injured individuals for their general damages is challenging. Determining the value of Georgia’s personal injury claims involves trying to assign an exact amount of money to an injury that is subjective and subject to differing perspectives. For example, damages such as mental trauma or embarrassment are not the same for each person. Other imprecise factors that affect the claim’s value include the severity of an injury, the attorney’s experience, and the jury’s sensitivities.
What Are Special Damages?
Special damages deal with losses that have specific and measurable dollar amounts attached to them. Further information concerning these damages follows.
Types of Special Damages
It is important to note that each plaintiff’s injury case is unique and includes specific types of special damages, but the following are relatively common categories:
- Medical costs, both past, and future
- Loss of wages and lost future earning capacity
- Repair or replacement of damaged property
- Lost irreplaceable items
Calculating Special Damages
Special damages are much easier to calculate. Unlike general damages, these items already have an exact cost that has been paid. However, it is a bit more challenging to attach a dollar figure to future medical expenses or future wages lost due to the injury. This is where an expert witness can prove invaluable to the case.
Georgia Punitive Damages
When a negligent defendant’s actions are deemed outrageously careless or especially egregious, a jury may award the plaintiff punitive damages above and beyond the compensatory damages awarded. While compensatory amounts are awarded to help make someone whole again, punitive damages come from entirely different reasons.
The goal of giving a victim punitive damages is to send a message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated and punish the defendant for such unacceptable actions. There is a cap of $250,000 for punitive damages in Georgia, and 75 percent of the awarded amount goes into the state’s treasury, minus a portion for litigation costs. There are certain conditions in which the cap can be lifted.
Other Factors to Consider
Certain other factors come into play when calculating the value of a personal injury claim in Georgia. Knowledge of these issues is essential to determine a case’s value accurately:
- Statute of Limitations – There is a two-year time limit in which a victim may file a personal injury lawsuit. Even if a case has valid merits, it is still wise to allow sufficient time to prepare a litigation strategy. A competent attorney can help ensure that no filing deadlines are missed.
- No Compensation Cap – There is no compensation cap for general or special damages in personal injury case judgments or settlements.
- Negligence Laws – With the state’s modified comparative fault law, no compensation may be recovered if the victim is deemed 50 percent or more at fault. Less than 50 percent fault means the percentage amount will lower the awarded compensation.
What is the Value of Your Georgia Personal Injury Claim?
The importance of seeking adequate compensation for an injury caused by negligence cannot be overstated. No one knows if future medical costs might arise or if an inability to work could occur. The legal team at The Eichholz Law Firm is experienced at accurately assessing and maximizing an injury claim’s valuation to help acquire sufficient compensation for future unexpected financial needs stemming from an injury.
Contact us to find out how much your case may be worth and to take legal action.