The moments after a personal injury accident are painful and often overwhelming. You’re likely facing medical bills, possible vehicle repairs, and other costs associated with your injuries. If you didn’t cause the accident, you should not have to pay for these expenses. Under Georgia law, it’s your legal right to financial recovery for these “damages.”
In this article, we’ll cover what personal injury damages are, situations where you might need to sue for them, and specific damages you may sue for.
What Costs Count as “Damages” After an Accident?
Since Georgia is an at-fault state, the person who caused an accident is responsible for all of its costs. These costs are known as damages. If the victim of the accident faces expenses they wouldn’t have had before the accident occurred, the victim is entitled to make an insurance claim against the at-fault party to cover their costs.
Common damages you can recover in a personal injury accident include:
This includes hospital bills, doctor visits, examinations, prescription medications, surgery, and ongoing treatment like rehabilitation or physical therapy. Extreme injuries can require years of treatment and recovery. Present and future medical costs resulting from the accident are considered as damages.
Vehicle Repair Costs
If you were in an auto-related accident and your car, motorcycle, bicycle, or other type of vehicle was damaged, the at-fault party is responsible for those costs. This includes replacement costs if the vehicle was totaled.
Chances are you’ll have to take time off work to recover from your injuries. Damages include lost wages from you had to miss from work because of the accident.
These damages are much harder to calculate because they are meant to account for how the injury or other consequences of the accident affected a victim’s life. These damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Physical impairment, including permanent disability
- Lowered quality of life
- Mental anguish, including depression or anxiety
- Loss of companionship, such as if a loved one was killed in the accident
Most of the time, these damages can be recovered from the at-fault person’s insurance company. But there are situations where you may need to sue for these same damages.
Punitive damages are different than those mentioned above and don’t apply in every personal injury case. When someone has shown willful misconduct, fraud, malice, or willingly put other people in danger, the victim may be awarded punitive damages. These damages are paid by the at-fault person to the victim as a punishment for acting recklessly or breaking the law, such as in a drunk driving accident.
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Do You Have to Sue for Damages After an Accident In Georgia?
Most accidents in Georgia are handled by insurance and there is no reason to sue (but there are exceptions, which we’ll cover below).
If you get into a car accident, for example, caused by another driver, their auto insurance is responsible for your damages, not the driver him or herself. You would then make an insurance claim against the driver’s insurance company. If all works out, the insurer will pay out the damages you’re entitled to. (And even if they try to lowball you upfront, a car accident lawyer can help you negotiate a fair settlement.) In other types of personal injury cases like motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, or slip and fall accidents, the at-fault party is usually covered by an insurance policy that has a duty to pay for the victim’s damages.
However, there are situations where it is prudent to sue for damages after an accident. You might sue for the damages listed above if:
1. The at-fault party doesn’t have insurance (or enough insurance).
This can sometimes happen in car accident cases. If the other driver doesn’t have insurance or isn’t carrying enough insurance at the time of the accident, you can be left without a way to recover for your damages unless you sue. Even if the at-fault party has some insurance, such as an underinsured driver, it may not cover all of your costs.
2. You couldn’t reach a settlement.
Sometimes insurance companies will refuse to pay out the amount on your insurance claim. If this is the case, you can hire a personal injury lawyer who will try to negotiate for a fair settlement. If this is unsuccessful, you may move the case on to trial to seek damages. A good lawyer can advise you whether this is a good idea.
These are the most common reasons to pursue a lawsuit, but they aren’t the only ones. It’s best to sit down with a good lawyer after your accident so you can know your options. Many times, you can seek these damages without having to open a lawsuit. But if you do, look for a lawyer who’s experienced enough to do the legwork required to win.
Talk to a Personal Injury Accident Lawyer for Free
At John Foy & Associates, we have more than 20 years of experience working on injury cases in Georgia. If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and are wondering how to recover for your damages, contact us today. We can give you a FREE consultation to talk about your options and how we can help. Call us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form to the right for your free consultation.