Compensation in Injury Cases
The law gives authority to what types of damages are recoverable in injury cases. The two most common in Georgia are special and general damages. In certain circumstances a person might be entitled to punitive damages which will be discussed in another article.
This item of recovery includes medical bills and lost wages. The Court requires that you prove these items before they can be recovered, meaning that you must have evidence of the damage incurred. Evidence can include your hospital and ambulance bills, as well as your pay stubs showing the time you missed out on work. Future medical bills is another item of special damages. As the name implies, these are medical bills that you will incur in the future. Unfortunately, recovering future medical bills is much harder because there is no guarantee what might happen in the future. Insurance companies are also very skeptical about paying for future medical bills.
Luckily the law authorizes the award of future medical bills if you can show that such costs are not speculative. A tried and tested method of proving and recovering future damages is having an experienced medical doctor write a narrative or testify in court of what the future holds for an injured patient. The doctors testimony should include a past history of the patient as well as the injuries incurred and past treatment that failed. Finally, at this point, the doctor can opine what future options are available, that these are the only options available, and the cost for each.
General damages are items of recovery that also flow from the act that caused your injuries. Unlike special damages, general damages do not have to be proven as the law presumes they exist. The most common example is pain and suffering and mental anguish. Like special damages, you can claim for future pain and suffering especially in cases resulting in catastrophic and life long injuries. Even though general damages are presumed, it is often quite difficult to convert into a monetary amount. Georgia law says that the amount is “based on the enlightened conscience of the jury”, which really doesn’t give us a method of determining an amount. The best way of figuring such items of recovery is to look at the facts of the case. Look at how the accident and injuries have affected your life? What lifestyle changes have been made? How often are you in pain? The pain intensity levels? Is the pain constant throughout the day or comes and goes? Are you controlling your pain with medications? What physical limitations now exist? What can a person do or cannot do? Does the person have a permanent body impairment rating? These are just some of the facts that can be explored in determining an amount to award for general damages.