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What Can I Recover in a Car Wreck Case?

In Georgia, a person injured in a car wreck, in legal terms, the plaintiff, may recover “Compensatory Damages.” The term “damages” is what the legal field uses to describe how you were harmed. The two categories of compensatory damages are: “special damages” and “general damages.” There is a third, and less common, type of damages called “punitive damages.”

Special damages are damages that have an actual dollar figure and can be calculated accordingly. This will include things such as medical bills, prescriptions, lost wages, car rental expenses, and diminished value of your vehicle. It is a good idea to save all receipts and medical invoices, even if you are not sure it will fit into this category of damages.

General damages are damages that do not have an actual dollar figure and therefore are more difficult to calculate. This will include things such as pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental anguish, the loss of enjoyment of life (for example: if you had a favorite hobby before your wreck that you can no longer participate in after your wreck), etc. There are different ways to try and calculate general damages but no dollar amount is ever guaranteed, and each case has different results.

Lastly, there are punitive damages, which are available only in specific cases. Punitive damages are meant to “punish” the defendant and discourage the defendant from engaging in the same harmful behavior in the future. Punitive damages are commonly seen in cases involving a drunk driver and are similar to general damages in that they are highly unpredictable and are determined on a case-by-case basis. The Georgia Legislature has capped punitive damages at $250,000.

Can My Family Recover Anything?

Possibly. Georgia recognizes what is known as “loss of consortium” claims. This means that if your injury is severe enough that you can no longer enjoy the companionship of your family or can no longer do normal household duties, then your family member (spouse, parent, or child) may also be able to recover compensation. A loss of consortium claim must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

What If I Was Partly at Fault Too?

Georgia has what is known as a “modified comparative fault” rule that reduces any damages a jury awards you by any percentage of the wreck that the jury deems was your fault. For example: if you were struck by an at-fault driver while driving through an intersection, but were found to be speeding, the jury may assign a percentage of fault to you for the wreck. The money a jury has awarded you will then be reduced by the percentage of fault they assigned to you.

Make sure you speak with a lawyer before talking with anyone else about your car wreck case. Frequently, the other driver’s insurance company will contact you directly to try and settle your case for an attractive amount very quickly, but your case may command a higher result. The personal injury attorneys at Jenkins Utley, P.C. would be happy to give you a free consultation to discuss your case.