When you are in any type of accident in Georgia, you may have suffered losses associated with your injuries. Many people assume that all of their damages are the same. However, it is important to understand the different kinds of damages and how to calculate them so that you receive an appropriate amount for your injuries.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover in Georgia?
There are three types of damages available in Georgia for personal injury victims:
- Economic damages – sometimes referred to as “special damages,” there are generally no limits on economic damages
- Non-economic damages – sometimes referred to as “general damages” and include damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and related damages
- Punitive damages – these are damages used to punish a defendant’s behavior and prohibit similar conduct by others
What Are Economic Damages in Georgia?
Economic damages are awarded to help injury victims recover the financial costs associated with their accident. Economic damages are tangible damages that are usually proven by bills or invoices. Examples of economic damages are medical expenses, loss of income, property damage, and other out-of-pocket costs.
Economic damages like medical expenses and property damage are simple to figure out because you will usually receive an estimate, bill, or invoice that proves the extent of your damages. On the other hand, loss of income, especially future income, is more difficult to calculate and may require the assistance of a financial expert.
How Are Medical Costs Calculated For Economic Damages?
When calculating medical costs in a personal injury or accident case, it is important to understand that there are past and future medical expenses. Past medical costs are easier to calculate because bills and invoices show the amount. Future medical costs, on the other hand, are more difficult to calculate.
Georgia law states that future medical costs must be supported by legitimate evidence. This means that estimates or speculation will not adequately support a claim for future medical costs.
Fortunately, your doctors, other healthcare providers, and medical experts are likely able to make reasonable predictions about any of your possible future medical needs, like:
- Physical therapy
- Prescriptions for pain relief medication
- Diagnostic testing
- Assistive devices (e.g., wheelchairs or prosthetics)
- Home health care or other assisted living
- Mental health care
- Additional surgeries
Calculating a claim for future medical costs is also difficult because once you receive an amount from the court in a judgment, you cannot return to the court later and request more if your medical expenses were more than you previously estimated. That is why it is essential to consider that the costs of medical care can rapidly increase.
How is Lost Income Calculated in Personal Injury Cases?
When attempting to calculate lost income damages, you must consider that there are three types of lost income:
- Past lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
Past lost wages are easier to prove than future lost wages or loss of earning capacity.
What Are Past Lost Wages?
Past lost wages are relatively simple to calculate because you can use your pay rate and historical earnings to prove your claim. For example, if you were injured in a motorcycle accident and were unable to work for five months – and your paychecks show that your monthly salary is $5,000 – you have a claim for $25,000 in past lost wages.
This may become more complicated if you are self-employed, paid hourly with irregular working hours, or work irregular overtime shifts. If you were unemployed at the time of your accident, you cannot try to recover past lost wages according to Georgia case law.
What Are Future Lost Wages?
Calculating future lost wages is more difficult than determining past lost wages because you have to consider many other factors, such as:
- Your age when the injury occurs: This factor evaluates the effect of your age on your future lost wages. For example, when a young person is severely injured in an accident, their injury could affect their ability to work for twenty, thirty, or even forty years, depending on their age. On the other hand, if the injured person is near retirement, they will likely not be working very much longer. This means that the injured person’s age will have a significant effect on the calculation of future lost wages.
- The type of industry you worked in: This factor evaluates whether or not you will have a job in the same industry in the future. For example, if you were working in a factory that manufactures manual/crank car windows, it is unlikely that you will have solid employment prospects in the future because of the technological advances in cars. On the other hand, if you were working in the development of artificial intelligence for self-driving cars, your industry will likely grow rapidly.
- The possibilities of a promotion: If you have worked long enough to receive a promotion, you will likely earn more money. Also, if your employment is the type that regularly provides promotional opportunities, you could earn substantially more in a few years. Therefore, it would be important to factor in any promotional opportunities and increased wages in your future lost wages calculation.
Contact a personal injury lawyer today to discuss your case and help you value your damages.