Atlanta, Georgia car accident law firm Scholle Law discusses the question of Georgia injury damages caps in personal injury actions. Injury cases can involve significant losses for accident and injury victims. Georgia law allows for accident victims to recover compensation for their losses. This recovery is what you may hear referred to as damages. This information can be convoluted so it is always best to have an experienced personal injury attorney evaluate your injury case. Don’t assume you know everything you need to know. Generally there are no Georgia injury damages caps, but we will discuss this more thoroughly below.
Have you ever been in an accident? If so, did your vehicle require repairing or replacement? Maybe there were bills related to your medical treatment or money lost from missing work. These are examples of Economic Damages. Complex injury cases can involve even more different damage scenarios. Other types of damages can include Non-Economic Damages and Punitive Damages.
No Georgia Injury Damages Caps
For personal injury cases in Georgia there is generally no cap on Economic and Non-Economic damages. This is very good news for Georgia plaintiffs. Generally there are no Georgia injury damages caps. However there are some Georgia specific cases where limitations do exist. Such examples mainly include cases involving punitive damages.
In this article we will do a brief overview of damages including economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. We will also discuss specific cases that include caps on the amount of compensation that can be recovered. This information is a general resource. It is however no substitute for a consultation with an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney.
Non-Economic Damages are subjective. For instance, pain and suffering. Damages for pain and suffering do not have an exact monetary value. What would be the value for the loss of companionship or consortium of a catastrophically injured spouse? How much is someone’s disability or disfigurement worth? These are all examples of Non-Economic damages.
Think of it as damages that will be specific to an individual’s case. Medical bills and receipts do not prove the value of Non-Economic Damages. These are the damages that injury lawyers will work hard to prove. Doing so by telling the client’s story of what the client has been through since becoming injured. Non-Economic damages can also include compensation for pain the client may face in the future. Additionally, these damages can be very significant damages in severe injury cases. For instance, where a party will likely never make a full recovery.
Economic Damages are defined and concrete and Non-Economic Damages are subjective. These are the types of damages that will fit neatly on a spreadsheet. Compiling medical bills is such an example. The total amount of someone’s lost wages is another common example of Economic Damages. The amount of money that is necessary to repair a damaged car is another.
Every injury case will have Economic Damages. The potential case values for non-catastrophic injury cases will be primarily based on the quantifiable damages the plaintiff has. Every case is different, so do not assume that your case only has Economic Damages. Speak to an attorney for confirmation about your potential damages.
What Are These Damages For?
The damages discussed above are for the purpose of compensating the injured party. One goal of personal injury law is to try to make the plaintiff whole. The damages try to place the plaintiff in their pre-accident position or close to it. Here is an example:
Failing to yield, Party X drives their vehicle into the side of Party Y’s car. Party Y had $5,000 dollars in medical bills after being injured. If there had been no accident, then there would have been no medical bills. The law says it is fair for Party Y to recover the cost of those bills from Party X.
The Non-Economic Damages example would be similar. For example, same scenario but Party Y suffers a severe laceration and will have a scar that requires revision surgery. Party Y’s attorney successfully argues for Non-Economic Damages for having to endure the scar and the surgery. Non-Economic Damages compensate Party Y for something that would not have happened but for the negligence of Party X. This is all about compensating the injured party.
Punitive Damages serve to punish the offending party and deter the conduct from happening again in the future. They do not exist in every Georgia personal injury case. For example, in the scenario above, Y would most likely not get Punitive Damages. Damages will be limited to Economic and Non-Economic Damages unless there was intent on the part of X. A finding of intoxication also warrants Punitive Damages.
There is generally a $250,000 dollar limitation on Punitive Damages. However there are exceptions. Cases involving specific intent to harm such as assaults will not have such a cap. Cases involving intoxicated defendants will prevent a damages cap. There are no caps on punitive measures in products liability cases. The state of Georgia has a statutory right to 75% of such damages. Why? Again, the purpose of the Punitive Damages is to punish the defendant for the conduct. They are not for the purpose of compensating the plaintiff. For this reason, the Georgia statute on Punitive Damages has this limitation.
Previous Caps Ruled Unconstitutional
In 2005, the Georgia Legislature passed a tort reform law. It limited the amount of Non-Economic Damages that an injured Plaintiff could recover in an action for medical malpractice. The law limited these damages at $350,000 dollars for a single defendant. If there were multiple defendants no more than $1,050,000 dollars could be recovered. The Georgia Supreme Court of Georgia ruled in 2010 that the 2005 law was unconstitutional. The ruling stated that the law violated the Georgia Constitution’s right to a jury trial.
Georgia lawmakers initially argued that medical malpractice cases were making it difficult for medical providers to afford insurance. They said that medical malpractice claims had driven a significant increase in liability insurance costs for medical providers. Today in Georgia the only clear cap on medical malpractice claims is the general $250,000 dollar cap on punitive damages. However, remember that successful claims against medical providers that allege intentional harm will have no such caps.
Clients frequently ask about the limitations for damages in wrongful death actions. Georgia law does not have a cap on Non-Economic Damages or Economic Damages. Therefore there is no cap on those damages in an action for wrongful death. There is a cap on wrongful death claims with Punitive Damages. In wrongful death cases with such damages attached, there is a $250,000 dollar cap. Caps do not apply to cases involving specific intent to harm or where the defendant was intoxicated.
Georgia law has no cap or limit on Economic or Non-Economic Damages in personal injury cases. There are limitations on cases involving punitive measures. For most cases there is a $250,000 dollar cap. A finding of specific intent to cause harm or a intoxicated defendant, nullifies the cap. The law is favorable to Georgia plaintiff’s looking to recover their Economic and Non-Economic Damages. Plaintiffs usually will not have to worry about a limitation on the damages. However, the uphill battle to prove your damages still remains. This is something in itself that can be very challenging. Please seek the assistance of an experienced injury lawyer for your case specific questions.
Speak to a Georgia lawyer if you have accident or injury case related questions. Compensation for injuries in accident cases is confusing. Following an accident, always speak to a lawyer before speaking to the insurance company. At Scholle Law, our Atlanta, Georgia car and truck accident attorneys know the law. Our firm is focused on serious accidents and injury cases. We have the experience and know-how to help guide you through your accident case. Give us a call for a free case evaluation. There is no obligation, and we will do our best to answer your questions. We look forward to speaking to you.
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