If you were injured in an accident you did not cause, you may be entitled to legal compensation from the at-fault party. The compensation you receive should reflect both the economic and noneconomic impact your injuries have on your life. Your pain and suffering will be a significant component of the latter. However, putting a monetary value on pain and suffering can be challenging due to the highly subjective nature of the inquiry. In an effort to standardize the manner in which these damages are awarded, two popular systems have developed over time: the multiplier method and the per diem method. This page gives a brief overview of both. At Butler Kahn, we have extensive experience defending the right of accident victims throughout Georgia to full and fair compensation for injuries sustained at little to no fault of their own, including compensation for pain and suffering. Our compassionate legal team is ready to listen to your story, build a solid claim on your behalf, and advocate aggressively for every penny you are owed. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a skilled personal injury attorney. Read on to learn more.
Is There More than One Method for Calculating Compensation for My Pain and Suffering?
Calculating “full and fair” compensation for things like pain and suffering can be challenging because each person is likely to assign a different value. This section discusses two methods that may be used to reduce some of the subjectivity.
- The Multiplier Method – This method first requires calculating the value of an injury victim’s economic damages. Economic damages are normally calculated by simply adding up things like the cost of medical bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, and damaged personal property.
The method then requires determining an appropriate “multiplier” between 1 and 5. The multiplier should be selected based on the severity of the accident. A minor fender bender may be assigned a multiplier of 1. By contrast, a catastrophic pileup may be assigned a multiplier of 5.
Predictably, the final step in this method simply requires multiplying the value of your economic damages by the assigned multiplier. The compensation for your pain and suffering would equal the final result.
- The Per Diem Method – Rather than selecting a multiplier based on the severity of the accident itself, this method assigns a dollar value to the pain and suffering you experience on a daily basis as a result of the accident. “Per diem” means “by the day” in Latin.
The per diem value should be based on the severity and extent of your injuries. Minor cuts and bruises would result in a lower value than, say, a spinal cord injury (SCI) that leaves you permanently paralyzed. The compensation for your pain and suffering is then calculated by multiplying the per diem value by the number of days it takes you to recover.
No matter which method is ultimately applied in your case, the at-fault party and their insurers will strive to lower the value of your claim. Of course, the job of your attorney is to advocate aggressively on your behalf by pushing back in the opposite direction. The legal team at Butler Kahn has secured millions of dollars for injury victims throughout Georgia. To explore verdicts and settlements we have achieved on behalf of our clients, follow this link.
Is Compensation for Pain and Suffering Capped in Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits?
No. Unlike many states, Georgia places no limit on the amount of money injury victims can be awarded for pain and suffering in civil lawsuits. The governing statute states simply and broadly that “[i]n the trial of a civil action for personal injuries, counsel shall be allowed to argue the worth or monetary value of pain and suffering to the jury.” The only caveat is “that any such argument shall conform to the evidence or reasonable deductions from the evidence in the case.”
What Happens If I Am Partially Responsible for the Accident that Caused My Injuries?
In Georgia, injury victims may still recover significant compensation for their injuries and losses even when they were partly responsible for the underlying accident. In these scenarios, courts will evaluate the comparative fault of the plaintiff and defendant. The governing law rests on the principle that someone should not have to pay compensation to another whose fault for an accident was equal to or greater than their own. In other words, if a plaintiff contributed less than 50 percent to the cause of the accident that gave rise to their injuries, their compensation will be reduced proportionately to their degree of fault. However, if you contributed more than 50 percent to the accident, you will be completely barred from receiving any compensation. A brief illustration should help. Imagine that you are traveling down Interstate 85 on your way to Atlanta. You are going 15 miles over the speed limit as you prepare to exit. Just before you enter the exit ramp, another vehicle illegally cuts you off, causing an accident that leaves you with $1 million in damages. If a jury determines that you were 30 percent at fault for the accident, your compensation will be reduced proportionately to $700,000. However, if it finds you were over 50 percent responsible for the crash, your compensation reduces to zero.
What Is the Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia?
All personal injury lawsuits are governed by a law known as the statute of limitations, which sets a deadline for filing a claim seeking compensation from the at-fault party in an accident. In Georgia, the deadline is set at two years after the date of the accident. There are very few exceptions to this rule, and you should not rely on them before consulting with an experienced attorney to make sure they apply to your case. Remember that failure to file your claim before the deadline passes nearly always results in your case being dismissed in court. And with your ability to file a lawsuit destroyed, the at-fault party will have little incentive to negotiate with you fairly during out-of-court settlement talks. To avoid this, speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after being involved in an accident.
Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Today
A significant component of the compensation you may receive in a personal injury lawsuit should reflect the pain and suffering you experience as a result of the underlying accident. At Butler Kahn, we have extensive experience helping injured Georgians enforce their right to full and fair compensation for accidents they did not cause. If you are reading this page because you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, we are truly sorry for the harm you have suffered. We hope the information on this page has been helpful. Call us or contact us online if you would like to talk with us about your situation. There is no charge to speak with us about your case.