According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there are approximately 300,000 car accidents reported in the state each year. Every day, hundreds of people are injured in traffic collisions. These injuries vary widely—from relatively modest bumps and bruises to those that lead to catastrophic, even life-lasting physical harm.
Virtually any auto accident injury results in some form of pain and suffering. Through an auto accident claim, injured victims have a legal right to seek compensation for their pain and suffering damages. Here, our Conyers car accident attorneys provide an overview of what pain and suffering damages are and who pays for them in Georgia.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a legal term that is used to describe the short-term and long-term physical and mental harm that a person suffers in an accident. Pain covers the physical trauma and discomfort caused by an injury. Suffering covers the resulting adverse psychological effects that can often arise out of a serious accident, from increased anxiety to difficulty sleeping.
Injured Victims Can Recover Compensation For Non-Economic Damages
As pain and suffering is non-economic damage, it is notoriously difficult to calculate. That being said, the non-economic nature of pain and suffering does not make the loss any less real or any less recoverable. Under Georgia law (OCGA 9-10-184), injured victims have the right to recover financial compensation for the reasonable value of their pain and suffering damages. To be clear, both current and future pain and suffering should be accounted for in your car accident settlement or verdict.
Car Accident Liability In Georgia: Who Pays For Pain and Suffering?
Georgia is a comparative fault-based traffic accident state (OCGA 51-12-33). Each party to a crash will be held legally responsible for their “share” of the collective fault. In some cases, one party is liable for an entire accident. They will be responsible for all of the damages, including their own. In other circumstances, two or more parties may split the blame for a crash. Similar to economic damages like medical bills or lost wages, pain and suffering damages will be divided in a proportional manner to each party’s share of the blame for a collision.
As an example, imagine that you were involved in a collision with a distracted driver. After an investigation, it was determined that the distracted driver is liable for the entire crash. In this type of situation, Georgia law would hold the distracted driver liable for the full extent of your pain and suffering damages. In contrast, if it was determined that the distracted driver was only liable for 75 percent of the accident, they would only be responsible for 75 percent of your pain and suffering damages.
The bottom line: To recover compensation for pain and suffering damages, you must prove liability. If you do not establish the defendant’s culpability for the crash, you will not be able to hold them or their insurer accountable for your pain and suffering.
How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated In Georgia?
There is no statutory cap on pain and suffering. The damages should be whatever is reasonable given the specific circumstances of the case. In most cases, Georgia uses the ‘multiplier method’ to calculate pain and suffering damages. Under the multiplier method, pain and suffering damages are awarded as a multiple—typically between ‘1’ and ‘5’—of actual economic losses. If you incurred $10,000 in medical bills and lost wages in a car accident, your pain and suffering would likely be valued somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000. The specific value will always depend on the unique nature of the case.
Unfortunately, defendants and large insurance companies frequently try to undervalue pain and suffering damages. Even when you can prove liability, the insurance company will still try to settle your pain and suffering claim for the lowest amount possible. Do not accept less than you rightfully deserve. You need skilled legal representation. Consult with an experienced car accident lawyer who can help you maximize your pain and suffering compensation.
Call Our Georgia Traffic Accident Attorneys Right Away
At MG Law, our Conyers, GA auto accident attorneys are hardworking, effective advocates for injured victims. If you or your loved one is dealing with significant pain and suffering after a crash, we are here to help. To get a free, no-obligation consultation, please contact us now. From our offices in Conyers, Covington, and Atlanta, we serve communities throughout the region, including in Newton County, Rockdale County, DeKalb County, and Fulton County.