Understanding Damage Caps to Personal Injury Claims
If you were involved in a Personal Injury Accident, you deserve to be financially compensated for your losses. The purpose of damages in PI case is to provide the victim with the amount of compensation that will place them in the same position they would be in had the accident never happened.
Damage awards are compensatory, and each victim is awarded damages on a sliding scale that is relative to their needs based upon the accident and the damages that were inflicted.
Some state legislatures have enacted “damage caps” on the amount of money that can be awarded to personal injury victims in order to cut down on awards that may have been viewed as “excessive”.
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How do Damage Caps Work?
Damage caps were designed to discourage people from frivolously filing lawsuits and clogging up the court system. The main argument against having damage caps is that they unfairly limit the injured party and judges already have the ability to increase or decrease the amount of compensation the victim is able to obtain.
The way damage caps work is the state legislature will place what they consider to be a “reasonable” limit on the amount of money a jury is able to award the personal injury victim.
Some states will limit damages based upon the type of action that is being brought forth, for example, the damage cap may only apply to a wrongful death or medical malpractice case. Also, damage caps may apply to other categories of damages such as pain and suffering or punitive damages.
Damage Caps in Georgia
The state of Georgia does not utilize damage caps on Economic and Non-Economic Damages.
There are three main categories of damages in Georgia.
Economic damages can be objectively verified, such as monetary losses. Some common examples of economic damages in a Personal Injury Case include:
- Medical Expenses: Any medical-related expenses that accumulated as a result of the accident can be presented in the demand for compensation.
- Lost Wages: The amount of money lost due to time missed at work because of the injuries that were sustained can be easily verified through the employer, check stubs, and tax records.
- Property Damage: This may include any repairs or replacements needed to a car or motorcycle after the accident.
- Lost Benefits: The cost of lost vacation time or paid time off can be requested through employment records.
- Lost Earning Capacity: If the injuries sustained by the victim were so severe that they were not able to return to work, or they had to take a different position at work, they may be able to receive compensation for the amount they would have earned had the accident never occurred.
As opposed to economic damages which are quantifiable, non-economic damages are subjective and therefore they tend to be a bit more difficult to quantify. There is no set amount that can be awarded, and they are usually decided by juries, judges, or insurance adjusters based upon the details of the accident.
Some examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Stress and Anxiety
- Loss of Companionship
- Loss of Consortium
Assigning a monetary value to something like “loss of companionship” can be a very difficult task. Of course for the victim, there may be no amount that is going to make up for these types of losses.
Hiring an experienced Personal Injury Attorney to make sure you’re being offered an appropriate amount for non-economic damages is your best chance at ensuring you’re not taken advantage of during this difficult time.
Punitive Damages are not awarded in every personal injury case. There are specific circumstances that these types of damages are awarded, such as a drunk driving accident case.
Punitive damages are meant to deter the person who is at-fault from future similar conduct, in other words, they are mean as a punishment. When a personal injury accident occurs because someone’s willful misconduct, like driving a vehicle while intoxicated, a judge may want to set an example by awarding the victim punitive damages.
Georgia Code § 51-12-5.1(g) limits punitive damage awards in tort actions to a maximum of $250,000.
Hire a Personal Injury Accident Attorney
If you were involved in a Personal Injury Accident in Georgia, do not hesitate to contact legal help.
The Brown Firm has a team of experienced attorneys who specialize in representing PI Accident victims.
Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience helping personal injury victims obtain the compensation they are owed for their suffering.
At The Brown Firm, we understand the complications that can arise with filing a lawsuit and trying to obtain the amount of money that you believe you’re owed for your suffering. It can be nearly impossible to try and negotiate for an agreeable settlement on your own.
Insurance companies try their hardest to get you to agree to a low settlement, and that is if they do not find a way to deny your claim altogether.
Your best chance at obtaining the compensation that you are owed is to hire an experienced Personal Injury Attorney to represent you.
The Brown Firm offers a free consultation to accident victims to see how we can best assist with the recovery of your losses.
Click the link below to schedule your appointment today.
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