Learn about damages available to Georgia drivers, including potential damage caps.
A car accident can cause minimal damage — or hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses in mere seconds. Because accidents vary greatly in severity, it’s no wonder why the amount of compensation a Georgia car accident victim can receive varies accordingly.
Accident victims are typically awarded economic damages, non-economic damages, and sometimes punitive damages, depending on the facts of their individual case. If you have been involved in a car accident near Macon, Georgia, one of our personal injury lawyers can help you determine which types of compensation you may be entitled to — and how much.
Types of damages in Georgia car accident cases
Personal injury damages from Georgia car accidents are classified into 2 categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Damages are economic in nature if they can be independently and objectively verified by using invoices, estimates, projections, assessments and other monetary statements. These damages include medical expenses, lost income, loss of earning capacity, lost benefits and property damage statements.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, refer to intangible losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience, loss of consortium and stress and anxiety. Because these losses do not come with financial statements and projections, courts must do their best to quantify how much compensation a victim should be entitled to as a result of experiencing a non-economic loss.
Punitive and exemplary damages
Beyond ordering a defendant in a car accident to pay general damages, such as medical expenses and property repair or replacement costs, courts may also order the defendant to pay punitive damages, which are also commonly referred to as “exemplary damages.” These damages are awarded when the court finds that the defendant has engaged in grossly reckless conduct or otherwise displayed a disregard for the lives of others. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for negligent or malicious behavior.
While rare in most car accident cases, punitive damages may be awarded in certain drunk driving and hit and run cases.
Georgia caps on car accident damages
Some states impose limits on the amount of compensation car accident victims may receive in a personal injury settlement. Georgia law caps punitive damages at $275,000, and 75 percent of these damages must be paid to the state treasury.
However, some exceptions that apply to this cap in Georgia include product liability cases, cases where the defendant specifically intended to cause harm, and car accidents in which the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. General and punitive damages remain uncapped in Georgia.
How much compensation can you claim for a car accident?
The amount of compensation an accident victim receives is largely dependent on negotiations between the injured party’s attorney and the insurance company, as well as any other parties who have been named as liable in the victim’s claim. To determine an appropriate payout in your case, your attorney will need to carefully gather all of the facts and document your expenses and other related losses.
Depending on the extent of the plaintiff’s damages and the insurance company’s willingness to pay, a car accident settlement in Georgia may range from hundreds of dollars (in very minor accident cases) to millions of dollars (in cases where the plaintiff was severely injured or killed by the accident). If the insurance refuses to pay an acceptable amount, the victim’s attorney may opt to proceed to trial and work to convince the court that the accident victim is legally entitled to receive the requested amount of compensation.
It’s also worth noting:
Car accident cases are subject to a statute of limitations. Therefore, it’s best to talk to a car accident attorney about your case as soon as possible.
When you are in an immense amount of pain, filing a claim might be the last thing on your mind. You might not have the mental or emotional capacity to think about the deadline, let alone how you’re going to get through the week.
Contact a Macon, Georgia car accident attorney
The attorneys at Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson are prepared to fight for the compensation you need to cover your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. We will evaluate your case to determine whether or not it’s wise to settle with the insurance company or go to court.
Our compassionate attorneys will work with you to ensure you receive all the medical evaluations you need to allow us to thoroughly document your injuries and bring in the right professionals to offer their expert opinions. We will do all the legal legwork so that you can focus your energy and attention where it:s needed most: the healing process.