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Your Right to Recover Damages for Pain and Suffering After an Accident

If you are injured in an accident that was the fault of another person, you can recover not only economic damages — such as medical expenses, lost wages and property damages — but also noneconomic damages known as pain and suffering. This is a catch-all term for ill effects of the accident that are not readily measurable in terms of cash outlays or losses. Yet, these damage awards are often substantial and sometimes enormous. So how are they determined?

Pain and suffering refers to prolonged physical effects of an injury that are not necessarily apparent from medical examinations. An example is whiplash, which is a violent throwing back of the head in a collision. Though there may be no outward signs of trauma, a plaintiff may undergo immediate and continued physical discomfort. In Georgia, pain and suffering also includes mental anguish, loss of quality of life, loss of consortium and other psychic effects.

The first hurdle in obtaining damages after an accident in Georgia is the defendant’s insurance company. In evaluating claims, insurance adjusters utilize computer applications that calculate pain and suffering damages based on the type of injury suffered, the medical treatment sought and the plaintiff’s prognosis for recovery of health. Before the case even gets to court, they may offer a settlement that is all-inclusive of economic and noneconomic damages.

Deciding on the adequacy of an insurance company’s offer requires careful analysis. This demands the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the ways that courts and juries determine pain and suffering damages. There are two main methods:

  • The multiplier method — This involves calculating the plaintiff's financial damages, including medical bills and lost wages, and multiplying them by a number from one to five, depending on the severity of the losses.
  • The per diem method —This assigns a certain amount of money per day from the date of the accident to the date the plaintiffs reaches maximum recovery. The amount is based on the plaintiff’s medical expenses and lost income.

While these methods serve as yardsticks, they are not binding on juries. Georgia law places no cap on pain and suffering damages, so juries can award whatever amount they think is warranted based on the evidence. This may include testimony from doctors and other medical experts about the prolonged effects of injuries of the type you have suffered. Limitations on activities you enjoyed before the accident are relevant as well. Long-term therapy and the projected need of future surgeries of procedures may also be considered.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the experienced attorneys at Jason & Bradley, LLC in Stone Mountain, Georgia can help you document and negotiate your claim to achieve a settlement that accounts for your pain and suffering as well as economic losses. If necessary, we will pursue litigation to enforce your rights. To schedule your free initial consultation, call [ln::phone] or contact us online.