If someone else causes you to suffer a preventable injury, Georgia law gives you the right to demand monetary compensation. You should not have to bear the financial consequences of another person’s negligence or misconduct. You could be entitled to money to offset the cost of any medical care you need, any wages you’ve lost from time off work, and any property that was damaged.
However, injuries often result in consequences that are difficult to place a monetary value on. For example, you could find yourself unable to care for yourself or engage in favorite pastimes the way you did before your injury, causing you additional emotional distress. These losses are harder to place a dollars-and-cents value on, but they’re no less real because of that. As such, you could be entitled to compensation for this pain and suffering.
In many states, so-called damage caps limit the amount of compensation available for pain and suffering. However, no such limit exists in Georgia. Judges and juries are free to award compensation for pain and suffering in any amount, which can vary significantly depending on the case.
On this page, we’ll address some of the questions we’re commonly asked regarding pain and suffering. If you have questions that aren’t answered here or you’d like to learn more about your legal options for pursuing compensation, contact Butler Kahn today. Our experienced personal injury lawyers can provide straightforward answers and evaluate your case for free in an initial consultation session.
What Are the Definitions of Pain and Suffering in Georgia?
The terms pain and suffering may seem relatively straightforward, but they each have specific definitions in the context of a personal injury claim. Collectively, pain and suffering refer to the initial pain and discomfort of the injury as well as the long-term suffering it causes the victim.
Pain and suffering cover things like:
- Physical pain and trauma
- Emotional suffering and mental anguish
- Injury-related grief, fear, anxiety, or depression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Losses in overall quality or enjoyment of life
How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering?
Everyone acknowledges that pain and suffering are real, but it is impossible to measure them on an objective scale. Consequently, it can be difficult to prove the precise amount of pain and suffering you experienced as a result of your injuries. However, it’s possible with the right evidence.
One way to prove pain and suffering is by using a crucial piece of evidence in any injury claim: medical records. If you reported any pain, discomfort, or personal limitations to your medical provider during your post-injury appointments, that information should be part of your official medical history. For this reason, it’s important to be clear and vocal about any pain or symptoms you are experiencing whenever you visit the doctor. Medical documentation carries a lot of weight in personal injury cases.
Another useful type of evidence in a pain and suffering claim is a pain journal. A pain journal is a collection of regular or semi-regular notes you make about the physical pain and limitations you suffer from your injuries. These can provide a clear timeline of how your symptoms progressed and the physical pain and emotional trauma you suffered as a result.
What Types of Damages are Available for a Personal Injury Claim?
In the context of a personal injury claim, the term damages refers to the compensation the claimant receives for their losses. In addition to compensation for pain and suffering, the court could award you damages for:
- Medical expenses you incurred because of your injuries, including the costs of surgeries and other procedures, hospital stays, ambulance rides, and doctor visits
- Incidental costs, such as mileage expenses for travel to medical appointments
- The value of any wage losses you incur from missed work
- The projected losses in your lifetime earning capacity
- The estimated costs of any medical care you will likely need in the future
How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated for a Georgia Personal Injury Claim?
There’s no easy way to determine a dollar figure for the cost of human pain or suffering. Insurance companies may use computer programs or a formula to estimate pain and suffering damages. For example, insurance companies may use a multiplier method in which they multiply economic damages like medical expenses and lost wages by a variable between 1.5 and 5.
When cases go to court, the Georgia Pattern Jury Instructions tell jurors to consider the following when calculating pain and suffering damages:
- Jurors are to make awards for pain and suffering based on their “enlightened conscience as impartial jurors.”
- Jurors are responsible for determining whether to award damages for pain and suffering and how much to award.
- Mental pain and suffering can also be awarded but physical suffering must have occurred for mental pain and suffering to be considered.
- Jurors can consider various factors when determining the value of a person’s pain and suffering, including interference with their normal living or enjoyment of life, loss of earning capacity, physical impairment, fear, shock, past and future actual pain and suffering, the extent to which the person must limit activities, and past and future mental anguish.
Is There a Time Limit for Personal Injury Lawsuits in Georgia?
Yes, there is a time limit for personal injury lawsuits in the Georgia civil court system. If you wish to file a lawsuit against a negligent party to demand compensation for your injuries, you generally have two years from the date of the injury to do so.
If you attempt to file a lawsuit after the standard two-year deadline, the court may dismiss your case as untimely, and you would lose your right to demand compensation in court.
Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Today
The best way to know if you could be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering is to review your case with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. Contact the trusted team at Butler Kahn today to learn more about your legal options in a free initial case evaluation.