Can you receive compensation for pain and suffering?
Most people have heard of or used the phrase “pain and suffering” before; however, in the legal sphere, this term carries much more weight. Getting compensation for bodily injuries and property damage is often straightforward, but proving and putting a price on invisible scars can be a little tricky. Just because they can’t be seen doesn’t mean they aren’t real.
What constitutes pain and suffering in a personal injury case and how much are these claims worth in Georgia?
What is pain and suffering?
Bodily injuries can bring your life to a grinding halt. The first order of business is often getting medical help. It translates to lost hours at work and piles of medical bills. Such losses are commonly referred to as “economic” damages and are easy to quantify.
However, an injury also causes “non-economic” damages. Pain and suffering refer to physical pain, mental anguish and emotional distress. It covers all the general costs such as depression, stress, insomnia and loneliness.
Pain and suffering damages are divided into physical and mental:
- Physical pain and suffering refer to the actual pain the plaintiff has endured due to the wounds and injuries. It also covers all the future discomfort that you are likely to suffer in the future because of the damage.
- Mental pain and suffering focus on the emotional effects of the injury. It covers emotional distress, mental anguish, anxiety, depression, insomnia, humiliation, anger, fear and shock. Examples of pain and suffering settlements include compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Such traumatic experiences often linger long after the wounds have healed.
Are pain and suffering damages available in Georgia?
Georgia law (9-10-184 (2016)) entitles the plaintiff to make monetary compensation for pain and suffering, which is handled under personal injuries. However, the argument for such payment must be restricted to the evidence provided.
Proving abstract damage is never easy, which is why it’s paramount that you find the right attorney. It may not be possible to show pain and suffering in court, but it can be demonstrated. Medical records and expert testimonies can help demonstrate that the injury has limited your physical capabilities and prevents you from enjoying life. If you are already seeing a therapist, their testimony will also strengthen your case.
Other evidence that can help include:
- Photographs of before and after the injury
- Video footage of how the injury changed your life
- Character witnesses, such as family, friends and colleagues
- The victims’ testimony on the difficulties caused by the injuries
Under Georgia Code 9-3-33, the statute of limitations for all personal injury lawsuits is 2 years.
This includes all injuries resulting from road accidents. The clock starts ticking from the date of the injury. The deadline is even shorter if the claim is against the state or county governments. Other exceptions to the statute of limitations include cases involving minors and when the defendant is out of state.
How much is my pain and suffering worth?
Assigning monetary value to pain and suffering is never an easy thing to do. In most cases, juries are told to use their best judgment. However, this still leaves room for a lot of confusion. In Georgia, courts have put in place guidance on how juries should determine fair compensation.
The following are the elements considered when awarding damages for pain and suffering lawsuits:
- Impairments of the body
- Interference with the usual daily activities
- Physical pain and suffering for both past and future
- Interference with the ability to work and generate income
- Past, present and future mental anguish.
- Fear and anxiety over the extent of the injury
- Effect of the damage on family members
- Potential for ongoing problems
The jury is free to award what they deem reasonable since there are no limits to pain and suffering damages in Georgia. It means that it is possible to get a higher settlement for pain and suffering than other economic damages, such as medical bills and lost income.
Knowledgeable attorneys capitalize on this and employ the multiplier method. This approach multiplies the economic damages by a particular value to arrive at fair compensation for pain and suffering.
For instance, let’s say our plaintiff incurred $150,000 in medical bills and lost income. We can then multiply this amount by a number between 1 and 5 to come up with a value for pain and suffering. If multiplied by 2, the damage for pain and suffering will be $300,000.
However, it is not all rosy for the plaintiff.
Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rules can be used to reduce that value significantly. If it’s determined that the plaintiff is 50 percent at fault, the amount arrived at earlier will be reduced by that percentage. Using the earlier example, such a plaintiff will only receive $150,000 for pain and suffering.
Consult an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer
Unlike physical injuries, pain and suffering are abstract and very subjective. The amount of settlement varies depending on the circumstances of the case. Calculating pain and suffering damages is never a straightforward issue. The compensation you obtain depends on how well your attorney represents your case.
The jury or judge will also look at the credibility of the plaintiff. An experienced attorney will adequately prepare you to avoid potential pitfalls. This is why your choice of legal representation is vital for pain and suffering damages in Georgia. Consult with Scholle Law today and get the compensation you deserve.