When considering legal recourse after an accident, the question of damages tends to loom large in people’s minds. A brief outline of how personal injury damages work in Georgia can give you a basic picture of what to expect. Specific figures can vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the accident, the type of injury and the plaintiff’s individual situation.

Generally, a Georgia plaintiff can seek compensatory damages. This means amounts are based on the plaintiff’s losses he or she suffers due to the injury.

Monetary losses

Specific, or economic damages are financial losses. These often include expenses for items such as medical treatments, medications, travel for treatment, purchasing assistive devices, hiring household help, rehabilitative care and home health aides.

This category of damages also includes losses representing money you would have earned had it not been for the accident and the resultant injuries. Common examples include lost wages, diminished earnings, loss of promotional opportunities. Experts can provide official reports assessing likely future damages in terms of continuing need for medical intervention, need for assistance or continuing lost/limited ability to earn.

Pain and suffering

Plaintiffs may also recover general or pain-and-suffering damages, which can be harder to calculate than economic damages. Nevertheless, the loss they represent is no less real to accident victims who suffer physical pain, difficulties with family and social relationships, emotional turmoil, embarrassment and other non-economic effects on their ability to enjoy their lives.

Punitive damages

In some cases, plaintiffs may also request punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, these are based on the extent to which the defendant’s conduct deserved punishment, rather than on the level of the plaintiff’s suffering. The law only allows punitive damages when the defendant acted not only negligently, but with a high degree of recklessness or intention. A punitive award is more likely to be allowed if the plaintiff proves the defendant broke a law, thereby causing the accident. For example, a conviction on a DUI charge for the incident in question can provide strong support for the plaintiff’s case. However, even in the absence of a criminal conviction, a plaintiff can still succeed in arguing reckless conduct.