When someone is injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, they deserve to be made whole. In many accidents, covering the medical bills and lost wages may not be enough – the victim has had their whole life turned upside-down. The victim is entitled to be compensated for their non-economic losses. Damages awarded for pain and suffering are how the law attempts to make victims truly whole.
What are Pain and Suffering?
Damages for pain and suffering fall under the category of general damages since you can’t easily assign a specific value to it. It is an attempt to compensate victims for the physical, emotional, and psychological injuries sustained in an accident.
To be more specific, pain refers to the discomfort that arises from your injuries. While pain is very real, it is also subjective – there is no specific thing you can point to or a verifiable way to measure it.
Suffering refers to the emotional and psychological effects of the accident and your injuries. For example, you may be experiencing depression over your loss of mobility. Maybe you feel overwhelming anxiety any time you get behind the wheel, or maybe you just feel sad, angry and frustrated that you are now in this situation.
Damages for pain and suffering can include not only the pain and suffering experienced in the past but also for the pain and suffering that you will experience in the future.
What Does the Law Say?
Georgia Code Section 9-10-184 allows victims to seek damage for pain and suffering provided that it has a basis in the evidence presented to the court or can be reasonably deduced from the evidence. As a result, Georgia law is fairly broad when it comes to seeking damages for pain and suffering. In addition, there is no statutory cap on damages for pain and suffering in Georgia, unlike in other states.
What Factors Are Considered in Calculating Pain and Suffering?
In determining what amount of damages should be awarded to the victim for their pain and suffering, there are many factors that a judge or jury can take into consideration:
- Whether you are able to work or have lost earning potential
- Whether you lost a loved one in the accident
- How your injuries have impacted your day-to-day life
- The severity of your injuries and how long it will take for them to heal
- The pain and overall discomfort associated with your injuries
Any one of these factors can support an award for damages for pain and suffering. Generally speaking, however, cases that involve several of these factors will see the highest awards for damages.
How Are Pain and Suffering Awards Calculated?
As noted above, it’s not easy to establish a specific monetary value for pain and suffering. At best, judges and juries try to estimate the dollar amount that would make the victim whole.
Georgia law does not require judges or juries to use a specific formula for calculating damages awards for pain and suffering. However, a common technique for making this calculation is the “multiplier method.” The multiplier method calculates the value of pain and suffering by taking the victim’s total medical bills and then multiplying them by a factor between 1 and 5, with a higher factor being applied to injuries that are more severe.
For example, if you’ve incurred $400,000 in medical bills as a result of an accident, and your attorney successfully argues that these bills should be multiplied by a factor of 3, then the multiplier method would determine that you are entitled to $1.2 million dollars in damages for your pain and suffering.
Contact Slappey & Sadd – Atlanta Personal Injury Attorneys
We’ve been helping accident victims across the state of Georgia get the compensation they deserve since 1992. Our attorneys provide dedicated, high-quality legal representation to every case we handle. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation, call us at 888-474-9616 or contact us online to discuss how we can help you.