What Kinds of Damages Can You Recover Through a Personal Injury Claim?
If you have never been involved in a personal injury claim before, you might be surprised to learn that there are a lot of different damages that you could recover. Most people assume that they are going to be compensated for their injuries and the property damage they suffered, but that is really just scratching the surface when it comes to recoverable damages.
In Georgia, there are special damages, general damages, and punitive damages.
Special damages include medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages. For example, say you broke your arm in a car accident and so can’t work until you are mended. The accident did property damage to your car, your injury has racked up a tidy medical bill, and you are losing out on wages you should have been making. Note that all of these are economic damages, which means that they can be calculated with solid numbers (the final amount being the respective bills added together).
Then there are general damages. These are best thought of as non-economic damages because there is not any solid number that can be used to calculate them. Pain and suffering, anxiety and depression, disfigurement, diminished quality of life, loss of a loved one, physical impairment, and permanent disability are all general damages.
Finally, there are punitive damages. These are additional damages that may be awarded in cases where the other party exercised malice or committed fraud. These are designed to punish the relevant negative behavior.
How Do Non-Economic Damages Work?
Since non-economic damages aren’t directly linked to a monetary value, it can be quite difficult to determine how much you should try to recover. What makes it even harder to determine is the simple fact that each and every accident is unique. While many accidents may be similar, no two are exactly the same, and this has to be taken into account when discussing non-economic damages.
For example, say your motorcycle accident has made it so you suffer from incredible anxiety when in a vehicle or even walking along the sidewalk. This anxiety is crippling for your day-to-day life; after all, it means that every trip to work is now nerve-wracking. But what is that worth? How do you attribute economic value to something that is non-economic?
The answer is: it depends. Different non-economic damages are calculated in different ways. When it comes to pain and suffering, there are two ways that they may be calculated in Georgia: the multiplier method and the per diem method. We’ll be looking at each of these methods in a moment.
First, however, it is worth noting some of the factors that go into calculating non-economic damages as a whole (rather than just pain and suffering):
- The amount of time it will take to recover from your injuries
- The level of fear, anxiety, or depression that you are suffering from because of the accident or your injuries
- How much your injuries interfere with your enjoyment of life
- How much of an impact your injuries have on your ability to achieve your daily activities
- Whether you suffered permanent disfigurement, disability, or impairments.
- If you can return to work or not
- How severe the injuries are
- The level of pain you are suffering due to your injuries
These vary from case to case. For example, somebody that works from home on the computer will suffer less of an impact from a broken leg than somebody that works as a security guard.
What Is the Multiplier Method for Calculating Pain and Suffering?
The multiplier method is the more common of the two ways of calculating pain and suffering. The idea is that your medical bills can point out the level of pain and suffering to be expected. So to calculate your pain and suffering, this method determines a multiplier and uses your medical bills to come up with a dollar amount.
However, this is also quite complicated. The multiplier used will be based on those factors that we discussed in the previous section. The more you are affected by those factors, the greater the multiplier will be.
Multipliers tend to be between 1.5 and 5. Say you are greatly impacted by your accident, so the multiplier decided upon is 4. With $100,000 in medical bills, you would then ask for $400,000 for pain and suffering. This formula would be simply $100,000 x 4.
What Is the Per Diem Method for Calculating Pain and Suffering?
This approach is similar to the last, but instead, it focuses on the length of time between your injury and your doctor releasing you. Again, an amount is decided upon based on the factors we previously discussed. This is the per diem amount, and it will be higher for more severe injuries. Similarly, more severe injuries also result in more days passing before your doctor releases you.
Once the per diem amount is determined, $250 for our example, this number is then multiplied by the number of days you needed to recover. Say your injury required six months of treatment before your doctor released you, or roughly 180 days.
To calculate pain and suffering in this case, the formula would be 180 x $250. In this case, your pain and suffering would be calculated at $45,000.
Do I Need an Attorney to Calculate Pain and Suffering?
No, you can calculate your pain and suffering on your own. However, you shouldn’t represent yourself in a personal injury lawsuit. You may use the proper methods to calculate pain and suffering, but the other party is going to do their best to poke holes in your argument and reduce the amount of compensation you can receive.
Working with an attorney is always recommended because an attorney will be prepared for arguments of this nature by gathering evidence to prove your pain and suffering is real. The calculation of pain and suffering is simple math; it is the fight in the court to prove your math is correct where an attorney’s help will really be needed. If you’ve been injured, reach out to a personal injury attorney today to start building a compelling lawsuit.