If you were involved in a car accident in Georgia that was caused by another individual’s careless actions, you may be eligible for money. Even if the accident was minor, you might be awarded compensation for medical bills, vehicle damage, lost wages, and in some cases, pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering damages are harder to prove than tangible costs. It’s more common to be awarded pain and suffering after a serious car accident, but there are situations where it may apply to a minor crash. An experienced car accident lawyer can guide you through the process of filing a claim and examine your eligibility for non-economic compensation.
What is Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Claim?
Most people understand what the term “pain” and “suffering” means, but in a legal context, “pain and suffering” is more complicated.
There are two types of pain and suffering damages:
- Physical pain and suffering, which refers to pain and other detrimental effects from physical injuries from the accident
- Mental pain and suffering, which means negative emotions resulting from accident injuries like emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, fear, anger, and humiliation
Pain and suffering damages must directly result from a physical injury or injuries the victim suffered because of a car accident. Physical injuries must be present to make a claim for pain and suffering.
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Can Pain and Suffering Be Awarded After a Minor Accident?
In states that use a no-fault system for injury accidents, pain and suffering is not an option unless medical bills exceed a certain amount. Thankfully, Georgia is an “at-fault” state, meaning the accident victim can claim damages for compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
If you were hurt in a minor car accident that was the other driver’s fault, you have the right to file a claim for all damages, including pain and suffering. However, the burden is on you to actually bring the case and prove your damages. This can be harder to do for pain and suffering in a minor accident versus a more serious one.
The amount of pain and suffering you may be awarded depends on how the damages are calculated.
How Are Pain and Suffering Calculated?
There is no set way that pain and suffering damages are calculated in every situation. Unlike the other damages you can sue for in an accident claim that have a clear dollar amount (medical bills and lost wages for example), it’s hard to put a number on pain and suffering. That being said, Georgia law does not have a monetary cap on pain and suffering damages (Georgia Code §9-10-184).
When insurance companies calculate someone’s pain and suffering damages, they typically examine how serious and permanent your injuries are from the accident. They often do this by taking the full amount of your medical bills and multiplying that total by a number from one to five. The number is higher based on how severe and permanent the injuries are.
It’s very important that you consult with a car accident lawyer about your pain and suffering damages before filing your claim with the insurance company. You and your lawyer can work to come up with the best estimate for your pain and suffering damages. You will then need to justify that amount to the insurance company.
How Can You Prove Pain and Suffering Damages?
When demonstrating pain and suffering, you will need to consider different ways your accident injuries have affected your life. You may be impacted in areas like:
- Inability to enjoy daily activities that you used to
- How your injuries interfere with your daily life
- Fear, shock, or anxiety from the accident
- Disturbance to your family life
- Inability to hold a job and earn income
- Mental and emotional distress to yourself and/or loved ones
- Movement limitations
- Embarrassment (such as from disfigurement or scarring)
- The severity of medical bills and treatment
Sometimes, simply demonstrating one of these points is enough to show pain and suffering. Even if the accident was minor, your injuries can still impact your daily life in a big way, and you deserve compensation for the pain and suffering that causes.
If you, your lawyer, and the insurance company cannot agree on a value for pain and suffering injuries, a judge or jury may decide what you should be awarded. It can be difficult for them to come up with a set value, so it’s best to keep track of all expenses. Save all medical bills and evidence of doctor visits, physical therapy, and more.
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Statute of Limitations for Recovering Pain and Suffering Damages in Georgia
All accident claims and lawsuits follow a strict state-mandated deadline. The ability to recover damages for pain and suffering is dependent on when the accident occurred. In personal injury cases, like car accidents, individuals have a two-year time limit to file suit, according to OCGA §9-3-33.
If injured crash victims fail to take legal action by this time frame, their case will likely be dismissed by the civil court system. A Georgia car accident lawyer can make sure you adhere to this deadline and settle your case quickly by managing your case.
How Your Fault Could Impact Your Accident Claim Compensation
Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state; this means that if you, the injured party, were at fault for a portion of the accident, you must have been less than 50% responsible for the accident in order to recover damages. Additionally, your total damages will be reduced by your percent of fault.
For example, if your pain and suffering plus your other economic and non-economic damages were found to be $100,000, but you were 25% at fault, you would only be eligible to receive $75,000.
Get a Free Consultation With a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer
Even if your car accident was minor, you deserve compensation for injuries you did not cause. That includes pain and suffering damages. John Foy & Associates can help you fight for the money you’re entitled to receive.
Contact us today for a FREE consultation. We’ll look at the details of your case, discuss how we can help, and come up with a plan of action. To get started, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.