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How Is Pain & Suffering Calculated in Georgia Car Accident Law?

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Is Compensation for Pain and Suffering Allowed in Georgia?

If you have been injured in a car accident or another type of personal injury incident, you may experience losses. These losses can range from property damage—your car may need to be replaced or repaired—to medical bills and loss of wages. If you have a severe injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, you might want to seek compensation that helps you cover future estimated expenses related to caring for that injury and supporting your quality of life.

All of these types of damages mentioned above can be tied to actual expenses. It costs a specific amount to replace or repair a car, and medical bills can be added up to calculate healthcare expenses related to a personal injury case. Even future medical expenses and lost wages can be tied to specific calculations based on known figures and estimates about the future.

Pain and suffering damages are different—to the point that these types of damages can sometimes be a controversial type of compensation. Some people argue that pain can’t be measured to calculate a consistent dollar figure to go with it, and even if it could, money doesn’t make the pain or emotional loss go away. It’s these types of arguments that are used to foster legislation in various states to limit compensation for pain and suffering.

Are There Limits on What Pain and Suffering Compensation Can Be Awarded?

However, Georgia is not one of those states. Judges and juries can award whatever amount of pain and suffering compensation in personal injury cases that they deem appropriate.

Because of this, the actual awards for these damages in personal injury cases can vary widely. Depending on the facts of the case, how the plaintiff proves their pain and suffering, and whether the judge or jury finds the plaintiff and their story compelling, awards could range from thousands of dollars to millions.

How Are Pain and Suffering Settlement or Award Amounts Decided?

Ultimately, if a case goes to trial, any amount awarded related to pain and suffering is decided by the judge or jurors. It’s a somewhat subjective process, and looking at public records regarding these types of settlements, you can see patterns. For example, the way rural and urban populations and juries view pain and suffering differs, and jurors in some counties are more likely to agree to award larger pain and suffering amounts than jurors in other counties.

However, when looking at how these figures might be arrived at, there are a couple of common methods. Insurance companies may also use these methods to arrive at a settlement offer.

One method is to consider damages on a per diem basis. For example, if someone is expected to suffer from injuries for 500 days, a settlement might offer $100 per day for 500 days, or $50,000 in pain and suffering.

A second approach is known as the Multiplier Method. With this method, the total economic damages are multiplied by a number—typically between 1.5 and 5—to arrive at a pain and suffering compensation amount. The multiple chosen depends on the severity of the pain and suffering. For instance, if someone has $50,000 in economic damages, such as medical bills and property damage, and the injuries caused long-term disability, a multiple of 3 or 4 might be used. That can lead to pain and suffering compensation of $150,000 or $200,000.

The Impact of Comparative Negligence on Compensation

It’s important to remember that any compensation you might win in a lawsuit or agree to in a settlement can be impacted by Georgia’s comparative negligence law. Under comparative negligence, you can only collect compensation in a personal injury accident if you were less than 50% at fault.

Your compensation is also reduced by the percentage that you were at fault. For example, say a court finds that you were 20% at fault and the other party was 80% at fault. In this case, you could collect compensation because you are less than 50% at fault. However, you could only collect 80% of the amount. If you’re awarded $100,000, for instance, that would be reduced to $80,000.

If you are 50% at fault in an accident—meaning both parties are equally at fault—or if you are more than 50% at fault, you cannot collect any personal injury compensation from others.

Proving Pain and Suffering Losses

Demonstrating pain and suffering, particularly at trial, can be more difficult than proving other losses. You can’t bring out receipts as you can with medical bills, for example. However, there are ways to create a story that shows the pain and suffering you are going through. Your lawyer will work with you to create a strategy for demonstrating your losses that may include your own testimony, the testimony of friends and family, and even photos, videos, and documents.

Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Case

To understand what your personal injury case might be worth or whether pain and suffering is something you should include when seeking compensation for your losses, reach out to an experienced attorney today. The team at Jarrett & Price, trial attorneys, can provide insight into your case and work with you to gather and present evidence to help maximize your chances at a successful outcome. Give us a call at 855-909-3021 today to find out how we can help with your personal injury case.

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