- If you were involved in a relatively minor accident or sustained only minimal injuries, you may be able to settle the case on your own or file a case in small claims (a Georgia magistrate) court. If you have a larger claim, hiring an injury lawyer is recommended.
- Types of damages you may be entitled to after an accident include past and future medical bills, lost wages or diminished income, pain and suffering, and property damage.
- Just like adults, children are entitled to personal injury damages in dog bite, car accident, trip and falls, and any other incidents that cause injury. If a parent or guardian has not filed suit while the child is a minor, the young person can file their own suit up to two years after turning 18.
What Compensatory Damages Can Be Recovered in a Georgia Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit?
When an accident happens or an injury occurs, the law in the State of Georgia allows the injured party to be fully compensated by the person who caused the damage. In other words, the judicial system allows you to be “made whole,” or be left in a condition equal to what you were before the accident. That means, you should be able to recover your expenses related to the accident, as well as past and future economic and non-economic losses. Unfortunately, not all at-fault or negligent parties are willing and eager to make their reckless or negligent behavior right by compensating you quickly.
In Georgia, do I need a lawyer to recover compensatory damages?
There are advantages and disadvantages to hiring a Georgia personal injury attorney. We like to think that, mainly, it is to your advantage and in your best interest. However, each case is different. If you had a relatively minor accident or injury, with just an emergency room trip or a few visits to the doctor, you may want to consider trying to settle the case on your own, or filing a case in small claims (a Georgia magistrate) Court. If you are going to attempt to handle the case on your own, our website has a lot of information that you may find helpful.
As this page explains, you may be entitled to recover more than just your medical bills and out of pocket expenses. If you have a larger claim, hiring an injury lawyer may be the smart move, as legal and insurance industry studies have shown that injury victims gain a significant edge by taking advantage of an experienced injury attorney’s experience in documenting and proving to the insurance company that a large jury award is likely. This is called presenting a demand package. A well-put together demand package coming from an attorney that includes all past and future expenses, medical and wage-related, can often be the difference between a low-ball offer, and a fair settlement.
Types of damages you may be entitled to after an accident include:
Recovery of past and future medical expenses in Georgia
In a Georgia personal injury case, damages in the form of your medical expenses – from the cost of the ambulance to the cost of the testing and treatment of any injury – are to be paid by the ‘at fault’ party. But your treatment likely does not end there with simple ambulance and emergency room care. You may be receiving additional treatment with a specialist, including surgery or follow-up visits, injections, physical therapy, prescription drugs, and even medical appliances like splints, crutches, and wheelchairs for which the other party should be held accountable to pay. It is, therefore, that each expense related to your medical care be carefully documented and presented to the negligent party for payment.
In more serious injury claims, future medical expenses may be recovered if and when a proper evaluation is done, including future cost estimates by an expert physician.
Recovery of past and future wages lost and/or diminished income
When an accident renders you unable to work, you may be entitled to be compensated for the money you were unable to collect from your employer. Every hour that you are unable to work because of your injury, including time spent in rehabilitation or physical therapy, may be owed to you, provided that you have the proper documentation and medical causation evidence.
Additionally, if your injury makes it difficult or impossible to do your job as you did before the accident, causing your wages to be diminished, you may seek compensated for that loss as well. Here’s an example; if some of your fingers are amputated because of accident injuries and your regular job includes typing, a medical-legal expert may be able to calculate the cost of your diminished ability to work and earn a similar living, or of re-training you to do a different job. Likewise, if your injury causes you to lose the ability to continue to work at all, you may be entitled to the value of replacement income.
Recovery of past and future pain and suffering
We all know that your injuries were painful when the accident happened, and have been or will be unpleasant and inconvenient during healing and recovery. The law takes these losses into account as well. If you have been the victim of a negligent act, your damages will most often include pain and suffering in addition to the medical bills and lost wages. Georgia law recognizes that injury victims pain, trauma, suffering and losses can and should be included in your settlement if you are to be “made whole” according to the law.
In Georgia damages for past and future pain and suffering can be large in the case of a catastrophic injury, or an injury leaving a lasting effect, such as burn victims, scars, or traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases. Even temporary injuries, such as whiplash, back and neck injuries, or sprains and strains also deserve additional compensation that includes damages paid for pain and suffering.
Recovery of property damages in Georgia
Damage to your car and your personal property (including the things in your car) are compensable property damages. For example, if your car was totaled or caught fire and burned after a traffic accident, you are entitled to recover the fair market value of the repairs or the loss incurred. Property damage is usually recovered from the at-fault driver’s property-damage coverage, as opposed to the bodily-injury coverage that pays for your injury, medical and other losses.
In Georgia, are children entitled to recover personal injury damages?
Yes. In the State of Georgia, when another person’s negligence or reckless behavior causes a child to be harmed, whether it’s an automobile accident, dog bite, trip and fall, or an injury that happens under different circumstances, the responsible party is required to pay for the damages just as he/she would if the damages were done to an adult.
How does a child file a Georgia personal injury lawsuit?
Children who have not yet reached their “majority,” cannot file a lawsuit on their own. In law, the age of majority is defined as the age at which people are considered to be fully adult and able to make their own decisions. (In Georgia young people may make their own medical decisions at age 18, that age is used as the age of majority here.) Before that time it is left to responsible adults – usually parents or guardians – to act on their behalf. A child’s claim for personal injury, however, may be filed at any time up until two years beyond the age of majority. Therefore, if a parent or guardian has not filed suit while the child is a minor, a young person can file their own suit after reaching majority.
Who can recover for a child’s medical expenses and bills?
In Georgia a parent is responsible for a child’s medical bills and expenses. This also means that a parent holds the right to recover a minor child’s medical expenses. For this reason, we often recommend that a personal injury case involving a child be filed within two years of the incident, so that the parent or guardian does not lose the right to recover medical bills.
How are damages calculated when a child is injured?
The valuation of injuries to children in a Georgia injury claim is significantly the same for children as it is for adults. A child is entitled to recover for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, just as an adult will. Loss or diminished current or future earnings can sometimes also be calculated and expected as compensation when the negligence of others causes an injury that might cause a reduction in the capacity to work and earn money. These calculations are usually handled by a professional who works frequently with such cases.
Why is it important to document everything after an accident or injury?
Most of the work of actually settling a claim only begins with knowing what can be claimed. The hardest part is negotiating with insurance adjusters and lawyers from the other side over the fair values involved. Since lawyers do this kind of thing all day every day, they are the experts in solving problems of this sort.
The legal team at The Millar Law Firm has years upon years of experience in bringing our clients the full value of their losses through careful assessment of your damages and aggressive negotiations with opposing lawyers. We stand ready to help you recover a fair settlement or court award in your case. Call us today: 770-400-0000.