What are damages?

When someone suffers an injury, she can recover for her “damages.” There are three types of damages available in Georgia: (1) special damages, (2) general damages, and (3) punitive damages.

Special damages are readily quantifiable. Medical bills, lost wages from work, future medical expenses, and lost earning capacity are examples of special damages.

General damages are the person’s diminished quality of life–the type of life the person had before she was injured compared to the type of life she has after she suffered the injury. General damages are usually the largest part of damages. Pain and suffering or scarring are examples of general damages.

Punitive damages can be awarded to punish the wrongdoer or deter the wrongdoer and the community from acting dangerously. This specific type of damages can be awarded when your lawyer can show by “clear and convincing evidence” that the wrongdoer’s actions showed “willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.” O.C.G.A § 51-12-5.1(b). Drunk driving and hit and runs are examples of when punitive damages may be awarded.

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