Find out which financial losses a personal injury case can help you recover, and what’s NOT compensable
Anyone who is a victim of an accident and suffers personal injury is entitled to monetary compensation under Georgia law. Unfortunately, negligent parties or insurance companies are often unwilling to provide full compensation upfront. This is when it becomes necessary to hire an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney who can negotiate on your behalf and file a lawsuit.
What are “damages”?
There are many areas in which monetary rewards help injured accident victims become financially whole again. This compensation is known as “damages” in a lawsuit. In Georgia, there are 3 primary types of damages you should know about if you’re pursuing a civil lawsuit against another person, business or entity:
- Special damages
- General damages
- Punitive damages
1. Special damages
Let’s take a look at what damages fall under the special damages category.
Medical costs can involve a wide array of expenses, including ambulance, emergency room and hospitalization fees, physician’s fees, prescription medications, medical appliances or devices, rehabilitation or physical therapy. Some victims may require surgery. Georgia personal injury damages also include any necessary follow-up appointments or ongoing medications and therapy.
When involved in a motor vehicle collision, the property damaged may include your car, pickup, SUV and any personal items that were in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Vehicles may suffer reparable or total damage from an impact or a fire resulting from the collision. Under special damages, Georgia law declares that property owners are entitled to the fair market value of the vehicle and personal items at the time the loss occurred.
Often, an accident causes injuries that are so severe that the victim may not be able to immediately return to work. As such, the time needed to physically recover prevents the victim from earning a living wage. Accident victims also lose wages each time they must have follow-up visits with physicians or therapists. Some may never be able to return to their former job. In that case, victims are also entitled to compensation. You may recoup the loss, but you must keep detailed documentation.
2. General damages
General damages require more complex calculations. General losses include the pain and suffering an accident victim goes through. The damages may include:
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of a loved one
- Physical impairment
- Permanent disability
3. Punitive damages
In addition, compensation for punitive damage may be available if the accident was caused by someone committing fraud or if they exercised malice or misconduct that caused the situation. Damages may then be paid by the guilty party as punishment for their actions.
Children and Georgia personal injury damages
Georgia law stipulates that when someone’s negligence or irresponsible behavior results in the injury of a child, the child may receive personal injury compensation. If the insurance company fails to pay damages, a lawsuit may be necessary to receive compensation.
However, minor children cannot engage in lawsuits. Thus, a responsible adult in the form of a parent or legal guardian acts on behalf of the injured child. Calculating the cost of damages that a child may incur is the same as in situations involving an adult.
How to maximize your damage compensation
There are a number of ways accident victims can increase their chances of receiving compensation for damages. Here are a few tips:
• Seek immediate medical attention. Severe injuries caused by an accident are commonly addressed on the scene by first responders. Some victims may require being transported to a hospital. Some injuries may not seem serious but later become critical. Others may feel that their injuries are not serious enough to warrant medical attention until symptoms arise days later. Victims should never refuse an initial medical evaluation.
• Gather and document evidence. In the event of an automotive accident, exchange information with the other driver in the form of name, address, email and phone numbers. The contact information of the occupants of the other vehicle is also helpful. Photograph or video the scene to document vehicle damage, damage to the surrounding area, skid marks and the behavior of the negligent driver. Documentation must also include the types of medical treatment received and the fees involved immediately after the incident and during follow-up appointments. Document any loss of wages and the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property.
• Notify your insurance company. Contacting the insurance company immediately helps minimize the risk of becoming involved in a fraudulent claim. Some policies provide the accident victim with initial costs for medical treatment.
• Don’t provide statements. The other individual’s insurance adjuster may desire that you provide a statement. However, you are not legally obligated to provide a recorded statement. Furthermore, victims should not answer questions if under the influence of medication, are confused, tired or emotionally distressed. Talk to your lawyer before providing any statements.
When are personal injury lawsuits necessary?
When someone suffers injury due to someone else’s behavior, damage payments are generally handled by the other person’s insurance company. However, there are a couple of instances when a lawsuit to gain compensation may become necessary.
No insurance or insufficient insurance
Though it’s against the law, some people continue driving vehicles despite the fact that they don’t carry an automotive insurance policy. Sometimes a person’s own insurance policy provides minimal coverage, but not enough to fully compensate them. In such cases, filing a lawsuit against the uninsured driver may be necessary.
Sometimes insurance companies refuse to pay some of all of the settlements that are due to a victim. To recoup legitimate costs, the victim must pursue a lawsuit under the guidance of an attorney.
Consult an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer near you
Accident victims or their affected loved ones should consider consulting with an attorney experienced in personal injury claims when attempting to acquire compensation. Our knowledgeable attorneys can help protect a victim’s rights under the law while guiding them through the legal process.