Pain and Suffering Damages in Georgia
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed December 06, 2018
With places like Savannah and Tallulah Falls, Georgia is home to some beautiful scenery. While you hope to avoid injuries no matter where you are, they can happen anywhere from the shores of Cumberland Island to the mountains of Georgia's High Country. If you've been injured here, you should understand that Georgia treats "pain and suffering" as a legal term for the physical and emotional distress caused by an injury. Read on to learn how courts treat pain and suffering damages in Georgia.
Below is a table outlining Georgia's laws regarding pain and suffering damages, including damage caps and the statute of limitations.
|Statute of Limitations
|Limits on Damages
|No cap on non-economic damages (such caps deemed unconstitutional by Georgia Supreme Court)
|Comparative negligence rule may prevent or limit recovery of damages (Sec. 51-12-33(a)&(g))
Types of Damages: Economic vs. Non-economic
There are usually two types of damages to consider in a personal injury lawsuit: economic (or "special") and non-economic (or "general"). Economic damages refer to the objective, monetary costs of an injury, such as medical expenses and lost wages, while non-economic damages are the more abstract, subjective costs of an injury. Pain and suffering are non-economic damages and may include compensation for things like depression, insomnia, and the loss of enjoyment of life.
The Difficulty of Measuring Pain and Suffering
Damages for pain and suffering are difficult to measure because the experience of pain and suffering is so subjective and there is no easy standard of measurement. Juries are often told to use their best judgment in deciding how much to award a plaintiff, so an award could depend heavily on the make-up of the jury. Attorneys may argue for damages that reasonably conform to the evidence, and some use a number of factors to assign value to these types of damages.
Some examples of factors considered in measuring pain and suffering are:
- Severity of the initial injury
- Degree of pain associated with the injury
- Potential for ongoing consequences
- The amount of economic loss suffered
- Effect on family members
Additionally, to determine the value of pain and suffering, some attorneys employ a "multiplier method" where the attorney multiplies the economic damages by a certain number, usually between one and five. For example, if the injured suffered $100,000 in lost income, an attorney could argue that the plaintiff is entitled to four times that amount ($400,000) for pain and suffering.
Limits on Damages
While some states impose limits on certain types of damages, Georgia does not have such caps as they were struck down by the state's supreme court in 2010. However, Georgia's "modified comparative negligence" rule reduces damages in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the plaintiff, and completely bars recovery if the plaintiff is 50% or more at fault.
Get Legal Help to Understand How Pain and Suffering Damages in Georgia Apply to You
Since pain and suffering are so subjective, the amount awarded can vary widely and depend on factors such as the sympathy of the jury and the documentary evidence of the plaintiff's hardships. Additionally, Georgia's comparative negligence rule could significantly reduce an otherwise large award. Contact a local personal injury attorney familiar with pain and suffering damages in Georgia to evaluate the strength of your claim and any potential awards.
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