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How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

By Butler Prather LLP on June 6, 2019

Personal injury pain and suffering settlements vary greatly in Georgia, because no monetary cap exists on damages. Each state has its own rules establishing maximum damages for accident victims. The law in Georgia on pain and suffering (OCGA 9-10-184) states:

“In the trial of a civil action for personal injuries, counsel shall be allowed to argue the worth or monetary value of pain and suffering to the jury; provided, however, that any such argument shall conform to the evidence or reasonable deductions from the evidence in the case.”

This statute covers a broad range. It allows juries to determine damages based on the evidence they hear, with no monetary cap.

Pain and suffering calculation

Pain and Suffering Defined

The pain and suffering category of financial compensation includes injuries in an accident and other damages such as medical bills. Pain and suffering covers both short and long-term harm from an injury due to an accident. Medical bills are the beginning. Georgia pain and suffering damages compensate injured parties for physical and psychological effects. The compensation covers the effect the accident has on the plaintiff, the disruption to daily life, and the impact on their family.

Legally, pain and suffering refer to a specific element of harm caused by someone else. Pain covers the actual injury and any physical discomfort suffered by the victim. This category includes whiplash, broken bones, any lacerations, and side effects of the surgeries required. Suffering covers psychological and emotional effects such as depression, anxiety or other mood disorders, despair because of physical limitations, plus loss of spousal consortium.

Pain and suffering mean more than harm felt immediately. The state of Georgia also takes into account future discomforts and any potential long-term mental anguish. These future considerations apply specifically for victims with particularly severe injuries.

In personal injury lawsuits, demonstrating physical and emotional harm is a vital element of the case.

General and Special Damages in Georgia

Georgia categorizes compensation for personal injuries into two distinct categories. General damages are difficult to assign dollar values. General damages compensate for trauma in a general sense. For example, the trauma associated with losing a leg, or the death of a child fall into the general damages category. Pain and suffering falls into the general damages category, and so the compensation varies depending on the details of the case.

Special damages are a specific amount. Medical bills, and lost wages fall into the special damages category. The amounts are specific, and measurable.

Calculating Pain and Suffering – What to Consider

Many factors contribute to pain and suffering awards. The judge or jury hears details of the accident’s impact in the victim’s life. The victim’s attorney presents information in order for the victim to receive the highest potential award.

  • The pain from physical injuries only starts the list. Mental and emotional distress follows soon after.
  • Outlining hassles, scheduling and stress associated with medical treatment and the bills involved help juries see the suffering more clearly.
  • How the accident interferes with the everyday life of the victim adds to pain and suffering awards.
  • The inability to enjoy daily activities due to physical or emotional limitations shows judges and juries the impact of the accident.
  • The emotional impact of the loss of capacity to hold a job, earn wages and continue in a career constitutes suffering for the victim.
  • Family life disturbance results from both physical and emotional conditions.
  • Distress to loved ones adds more suffering to the victim.
  • Often injuries are difficult for doctors to completely define. Fear of the extent of the injury becomes an issue in these cases. These are particularly problematic for head injuries and other neurological conditions.
  • Physical shock simply from the participation in an accident affects many victims, making their lives more difficult for years afterward.
  • Limitations of movement mean creating a whole new living environment for the victim.

Any of these factors is sufficient to receive pain and suffering compensation. The severity ultimately affects the total award amount. As an example, a mother no longer physically capable of caring for her child should recover more than someone bedridden for a short recovery time.

Posted in: Personal Injury

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