What damages can people seek following auto accidents in Georgia?

Following an auto accident, those injured may seek to recover special, general and punitive damages as compensation for their losses.

The Governor's Office of Highway Safety in Georgia reports auto accidents caused 116,458 injuries in 2013 alone. Beyond the cost of repairing the damage to their automobiles, those involved in motor vehicle collisions may incur a host of other expenses and suffer various other losses. As such, some who suffer injuries in such crashes may choose to take legal action to obtain financial compensation for their losses. In Georgia, people may recover for special, general and punitive damages.

Special damages

Following car wrecks, people often suffer a range of economic losses. Known as special damages, these types of harm can actually be monetarily quantified. Special damages may be awarded for people's past and present medical expenses, lost wages and the loss of future earnings, and the costs associated with traveling to obtain medical treatment. Additionally, people may be awarded damages to compensate for the costs of childcare or hiring someone else to do their housekeeping, landscaping or even cooking if they cannot perform these tasks due to their injuries.

General damages

Sometimes the harm and losses caused by auto collisions are not economic. For example, emotional distress, physical pain and suffering, and scarring or disfigurement often accompany people's physical injuries. However, it can be difficult to measure such things monetarily. This does not mean that people cannot be compensated for such losses. Although subjective, the court may award general damages as compensation these types of losses.

Punitive damages

Most motor vehicle accidents are just that, accidents. However, if the responsible motorists acted with malice or showed a willful misconduct, they may also be ordered to pay punitive damages. These awards are meant to punish the negligent drivers and to act as a deterrent for them and others. In Georgia, punitive damages are capped at $250,000.

For example, a drunk driver causes a crash that results in serious injuries for the occupants of the other vehicle. Those injured file a personal injury claim against the responsible motorist. The driver that caused the wreck may be required to pay those harmed as punishment for getting behind the wheel while under the influence.

Working with an attorney

Being involved in an auto collision can be devastating for people in Georgia, and elsewhere. Drivers, passengers and others may suffer serious injuries that require significant medical treatment and, in some cases, long-term care. This may lead to undue expenses, lost earnings and other damages for which the responsible driver may be held liable. In order to understand their rights and determine how best to proceed, those who have experienced such situations may find it helpful to seek legal guidance.