Damages That Can Be Pursue
Knowing what damages can and cannot be pursued in a personal injury or wrongful death case is very important information for a client to fully understand as early in the process as possible. Without this knowledge, you can make a mistake when deciding whether to take your lawyer’s advice regarding settlement negotiations.
Below we discuss the different categories of damages that go into the valuation of a personal injury case in Georgia.
Special damages are the broad category of damages that are comprised of out-of-pocket costs resulting from the injuries suffered. These are economic damages. You do not have to have actually paid the amounts claimed out of your own pocket for these specials damages to be awarded to you.
Special damages are made up of two subcategories:
1). Medical Expenses:
Injury victims have the legal right to be reimbursed for all medical bills that are incurred as a result of seeking treatment for injuries related to the accident. In Georgia, the full amount of the medical expenses not just what a health insurance company pays is the compensation sought for this item of damages.
To recover medical expenses, you must prove to a jury that the expenses sought were for medical treatment directly related to injuries sustained in the accident in question and was treatment necessary to help you improve. This is most often proven by introducing the medical records and bills into evidence and through the testimony of at least one treating physician.
2). Lost Wages:
In addition to medical expenses, injury victims have the right to be reimbursed for any lost wages incurred. In Georgia, this does not necessarily mean just actual wages not received during time away from work but also the value of having to use sick time or vacation time due to your injuries.
If you can never work again, you have the right to pursue what is called your lost earning capacity for the rest of your working life.
General damages are non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or emotional distress caused as a result of being injured. Unlike special damages which can be proven with the use of documents and other supporting evidence, general damages are much more difficult to prove and calculate.
The truth is–pain and suffering and emotional distress cannot be “calculated.” A jury of your peers determines what the exact pain and suffering and emotional distress you describe you suffered is worth.
Each injury case is different for a number of reasons. The type of accident causing the injuries is never exactly the same. The injuries suffered are different. Our bodies respond differently to trauma.
Punitive damages are extra-ordinary damages that are not available often in personal injury cases in Georgia. They are awarded by a jury to punish the defendant for egregious conduct causing injury to another.
Intentional acts that in and of themselves are violations of Georgia law such as drunk driving or assault are examples of cases where punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages often are large awards because of the horrible conduct involved.
Learn more about how punitive damages are pursued in Georgia in our article about punitive damages here.