What are “Damages”? “Damages” are a fancy legal term for the loss that a victim sustained as a result of someone else’s actions. For a car accident, “damages” refers to the amount of money that will add up to your total losses as a result of the car accident. What we recover for our clients in a car accident settlement, or in a judgment at trial, is called “damages.” What are the Different Kinds of Damages? Under Georgia law, the damages that a car accident victim can recover are broken down into two different categories: special damages and general damages.
Special damages are the damages that correspond to a specific economic harm. In other words, special damages are the damages that we will have actual numbers to prove. For example, medical bills fall into the category of special damages because we can look to the actual charges by the medical provider to get an exact number. Another example of special damages are the loss of wages due to missed work and damage to your vehicle.
On the other hand, general damages are considered “noneconomic damages” which means there is not an exact number that can be attributed to the loss. General damages include things such as:
-Pain and suffering
-Loss of reputation
-Loss of companionship
-Loss of enjoyment of life
-Physical disfigurement or impairment
-Shortened lifespan Calculating Car Accident Pain and Suffering Damages As listed above, pain and suffering are considered general damages. Medical treatment and vehicle damage are very easy to value because they can be proven with a medical bill or auto shop estimate. However, car accident pain and suffering does not have the same economic certainly that we can use to prove them. What this means is that there is not a lot of outside evidence that can be used to show how much pain and suffering the victim experienced. This also means that it can be complicated to actually show how much money would properly compensate the victim for the pain he or she experienced.
Also, pain and suffering is subjective. As we know, different people have different tolerance to pain. So, the way one person describes her pain may be very different from the way another person may describe the exact same injury. This means that it has been nearly impossible for the courts to create guidelines or real standards to measure car accident pain and suffering damages. How Do You Determine Car Accident Pain and Suffering Damages? Because the amount of pain and suffering experienced by a car accident victim is difficult to show, Georgia courts consider a number of different factors in order to determine the actual amount of money to be paid for pain and suffering. These factors include:
-Amount claimed in special damages
-Severity of the injury
-Recovery time needed from the injury
-Any scarring or disfigurement and the location of such
-Personality and charisma of the attorney
-Personality and charisma of the injured party
-Potential for ongoing pain and consequences The “Multiplier” Method One method that some attorneys use to calculate pain and suffering damages is called the “multiplier method”. In using this method, you apply a multiplier to the total number of special damages (medical bills, etc.). The reasoning behind this method is that an injury with higher special damages, such as hospital bills or surgery bills, was probably more severe and should have higher pain and suffering damages as well.
However, this method is not without its faults. First, it can be difficult to determine the actual multiplier to use. Should the multiplier be 2x or 10x? What about somewhere in between? Its very hard to say, so the following factors can affect the level of multiplier used:
-Amount of property damage to the vehicles
-Whether the victim went to the ER in an ambulance from the scene of the accident
-The severity of fault by the driver who caused the accident
-Whether the victim underwent surgery
-The amount of time that passed between the crash and the victim’s first doctor’s visit
Additionally, the multiplier method can lead to misleading results. For example, an actor who is disfigured in a car accident may have less medical bills than a teacher who broke his leg. However, the actor relies on her image for her job, so the disfigurement may lead to more emotional distress warranting a higher multiplier.
The multiplier method is by no means a sure-fire way to determine the amount of car accident pain and suffering damages. But, it does help us with a starting point in determining the amount of pain and suffering damages you should claim. Contact a Specialized Car Accident Lawyer You may need legal representation. So, you should contact an experienced and specialized auto accident lawyer.