Guide to receiving compensation for emotional distress and trauma after your personal injury
Personal injury lawsuits aren’t all equal when it comes to determining equitable damages in Georgia.
While certain elements of the claim such as medical bills, physical property loss and lost future wages can be added up by crunching the numbers, there are also some compensatory claims that aren’t as easy to calculate. These non-economic compensation awards are usually associated with long-term complications in dealing with life after the accident. Also known as “general damages,” these elements of the claim are financial compensation for the emotional distress, pain and suffering a person will deal with for the remainder of their life.
Having the right Georgia personal injury attorney handling your case can be the difference being properly compensated or not being compensated at all. This is especially true with respect to pain and suffering compensation.
What is “pain and suffering”?
Pain and suffering are commonly discussed together when damages are being negotiated, but they are actually 2 different aspects of the same principle. Assessing pain and suffering damage amounts is not a scientific process because each case is unique in some regard, as is each person’s experience. The consequences associated with an accident or injury are always different for each victim and their families.
“Pain” refers to the physical damage throughout the body of an affected person. Some injuries don’t result in serious pain at first, but over time they develop chronic pain that affects their work and livelihood. In addition, a person’s inability to use their limbs or maintain mobility has a measurable impact on their quality of life. Paralyzing injuries are a prime example. Some catastrophic injuries such as spinal or back injuries can leave the victim unable to get around without excruciating pain.
“Suffering” is also largely connected to emotional distress in dealing with injuries overall, including such issues as loss of a relationship with a spouse or the family and becoming depressed because of the struggle of living with chronic or permanent injuries. Diminished quality of life creates massive mental anguish for many injured claimants, and this is a central component of any accident injury claim. The decline in a person’s overall health matters greatly (including mental health), and many times the depression worsens as the victim grows older.
Calculating pain and suffering damages in Georgia
While special damages are established with official documentation such as medical bills and earnings records, pain and suffering damages are altogether different. Serious injury cases can easily result in significant amounts of compensation based on evidence, but even seemingly minor injuries can also generate extensive compensation when non-economic factors are considered.
There are 2 basic methods for calculating pain and suffering damages in Georgia:
- Per diem method. The per diem method is often used when claimants are young. It takes into account their potential lost future earning ability due to the injury.
- Multiplication factor method. Most pain and suffering damages in Georgia involve the multiplier method. It’s usually set between a factor of 1 and 5, based on the severity of injury, and multiplied by the length of potential impact.
Limitations on pain and suffering awards
One positive aspect of Georgia personal injury settlements is the fact that there is no limit on the amount of pain and suffering damages allowable when a case goes to court. Juries and judges have the freedom to award damages based on the material case facts as presented by both sides.
The biggest challenge with negotiating a personal injury claim in Georgia is the state’s comparative negligence law, which is among the most restrictive in the nation. The bar for being eligible to receive financial compensation for pain and suffering in Georgia is 50 percent. For example, in a 2-car accident where each driver is equally at fault, neither driver will be able to file negligence claims.
The attorney you choose matters greatly when it comes to securing adequate compensation for pain and suffering, and other damages. Georgia residents with personal injury claims should contact the legal professionals at Westmoreland, Patterson Moseley & Hinson for professional representation. We can help you calculate your full damages, including pain and suffering.