Jefferson Car Accident Lawyer

Evening, city traffic jams, street road. Standing in a row cars, rear view, red stop lights. Dividing stripNearly 3 million people are injured in fatal road accidents annually in the US, of which 2 million sustain permanent injuries. A majority of these wrecks are caused by negligent or drivers under the influence.

While even the most minor of car accidents can cause injuries, high-speed wrecks often result in catastrophic injuries. Paralysis, amputations, and fatalities caused by another’s recklessness can take a toll on your life, with emotional and physical damages weighing as heavy as medical bills.

The Jackson County personal injury attorneys at Scholle Law are here to help if you have been hurt in a car wreck. We understand how disruptive even a minor accident can be. When serious injuries occur, you may be unable to work, leaving you with unpaid bills. Our team can take on the insurance company and fight for the compensation you deserve.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Jefferson car accident lawyer, call us at (866) 592-1296 or contact us online today.

What Damages Can I Pursue After a Car Crash?

Female Driver Making Phone Call After Traffic AccidentFor many people that have suffered injury at the hands of another, one of the first things that comes to mind is how they are going to be compensated for their damages. The next question that naturally follows from this is what types of damages they can expect to recover. These are excellent questions. 

Under Georgia law, damages in personal injury cases come in two basic forms, special damages and general damages. These are defined under O.C.G.A. § 51-12-2 as follows: 

Special damages are those which flow from a tortious act; they must be proved in order to be recovered. General damages are those which the law presumes to flow from any tortious act; they may be recovered without proof of any amount. As explained more fully below, special damages are often referred to as “economic damages,” while general damages are often referred to as “non-economic damages.”

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Economic, or special, damages are those that are capable of being quantified with receipts, billing records, and other accounting or expense records. The following are common examples of these sorts of damages:

  • Current medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Ambulance fees
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage and vehicle repair expenses
  • Rental car expenses
  • Costs of household services that cannot be performed while injured
  • Any other out-of-pocket expenses attributable to the injury incident

Non-economic, or general, damages are those that are unable to be quantified with a bill or receipt. The most common element of general damages that most people are familiar with is pain and suffering. What may not come immediately to mind however is the diminished quality of life that a person may endure. This is true for the time frame following the wreck often when injuries are at their worst, through and including treatment and recovery, and into the foreseeable future depending on the extent of injury. The following are common examples of these sorts of damages:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Mental anguish
  • Fear and mental trauma from injury incident event
  • Stress
  • Anxiety

General damages are those sorts of damages that are non-monetary in nature, meaning that they do not flow from an expense or actual monetary loss. It is a person’s pain and suffering, both physical and mental, that in turn causes them to suffer a diminished quality of life. However, for there to be a claim for emotional pain and suffering, as opposed to physical pain and suffering, there must be an actual physical injury caused from the same injury incident. This is rarely an issue as there is seldom one without the other. And, in cases where the physical pain is significant and long-lasting, this can have devastating emotional effects. 

As for physical injuries, most car wreck victims suffer some amount of neck and back injury. With physical injury there is also pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. All of this affects the ability to function in varying degrees. Neck and back injuries typically limit a person’s ability to lift objects, pull and push things. These same injuries also tend to cause pain and discomfort during prolonged periods of sitting and standing. 

Activities that an injury victim once did without thought often prove to be difficult and cumbersome, if not entirely prohibitive. From the moment an injured person wakes in the morning to the moment they go to bed, they are reminded of their injuries and painful limitations. For instance, simple tasks like bathing and getting dressed can be quite difficult. Likewise, most household tasks are often difficult, if not painfully prohibitive. Then, at the end of the day, getting a good night’s sleep is difficult, leading to increased mental and physical fatigue.

Having to endure this day after day is exhausting, physically and emotionally. Often the emotional turmoil is commensurate with the physical injuries and their limitations. It is not uncommon for people to become clinically depressed as they find their lives turned upside down. This is particularly troublesome with permanent and long-lasting injuries.

When our Duluth car accident lawyers seek to prove these non-economic damages, largely rooted in pain and suffering and diminished quality of life, a bill or receipt is probably not the sort of evidence we would ordinarily use to support this general damage element. This is because these sorts of general damages are completely subjective and based upon what each individual injury victim suffers from the wreck or injury incident. 

Medical bills can however perhaps provide some context as to the magnitude of a person’s pain and suffering. For instance, if someone has sizable medical bills, many jurors will likely make the connection that the pain and suffering was commensurate with those bills. This is because as the bills increase, this tends to be indicative of more serious injuries. From this, most jurors would probably infer that the person must have suffered greater pain and suffering than someone with less serious injuries and less expensive medical bills. 

However, this may not always be the case. In fact, evidence of medical bills may cause a jury to return a verdict for pain and suffering lower than what they might have otherwise found. This may seem counterintuitive, but medical bills can in some instances serve to “anchor” the jury’s total verdict to an amount close to the billed amount with general damages (pain and suffering) being some fraction of this. Depending upon the case, this may or may not be an accurate reflection of the injured person’s pain and suffering. In fact, in some cases, it may be substantially less. 

So, in those cases where the medical bills do not offer a meaningful measure of an injury victim’s pain and suffering, it may be wise to forgo those special damages altogether. This can be a difficult decision because juries are inclined to compensate a victim for their medical expenses. However, in the right case, this approach can yield a larger overall verdict with the focus on the general damages of pain and suffering and diminished quality of life.

The decision here will depend upon the unique facts of each case and personal characteristics of each injury victim. An experienced Duluth car accident lawyer will be able to prove your emotional trauma, pain, and mental anguish so you get the proper compensation to cover your care and suffering. 

Beyond special (economic) and general damages (non-economic), there are also punitive damages that may be awarded in those cases where the at-fault driver committed some act that was especially troubling or aggravated. Punitive damages are not awarded as compensation for injury, but rather to punish the wrongdoer for such aggravated acts and hopefully deter any similar future misconduct. 

In Georgia, punitive damages are generally capped at $250,000. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. One such exception applies to cases where it can be proven that someone acted with actual intent to harm someone. Another exception applies when someone acts or fails to act while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This would cause injuries caused by an intoxicated driver. In these cases, there is no limit to the amount of punitive damages that the jury may award. 

Speak to a Jefferson Car Accident Attorney

Chances are you see at least one car wreck on the side of the road just about every time you drive. Yet, the natural instinct is to think, “That will never be me; I am a safe driver, after all.” Yet even the most defensive drivers can be struck by another vehicle. When collisions occur, the resulting injuries can be catastrophic. 

The Jackson County personal injury attorneys at Scholle Law are here to help if you have been hurt in a car wreck. We understand how disruptive even a minor accident can be. Our team can take on the insurance company and fight for the compensation you deserve.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Jefferson car accident lawyer, call us at (866) 592-1296 or contact us online today.