What Damages Can I Recover?

You can recover your actual economic losses such as the costs of reasonable and necessary medical care, property damage, car rental expenses, costs of domestic services, and loss of earnings. The law allows compensation for future medical and care expenses that the claimant can prove will be reasonably necessary to treat the injury. The claim may include income the claimant can prove will probably be lost in the future because of the injuries. Loss of earning capacity is also allowed when the patient proves he or she is less able to earn a living as a result of the injuries

You are also entitled to non­economic damages for physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. There is no definite standard of calculating reasonable compensation for these types of damages other than being just and reasonable in light of the evidence.

In certain instances, damages may be awarded to families of injured claimants for loss of care, companionship, love and affection. When a child is injured, the child and the child's parents have separate claims. The child's claim may include physical and mental pain and suffering, and future medical expenses and income loss that will occur after the child turns eighteen. The parents' claim can include all medical and other necessary expenses related to the injury of the child up to age eighteen, and loss of the child's services.

Family members can be compensated for the wrongful death of a loved one. Generally immediate family members including spouses, children and parents can pursue a claim. The measure of the damages is the full value of the life of the deceased from the decedent's perspective. These damages may include medical and burial expenses; loss of income that would have supported the family members; loss of benefits such as pensions, insurance coverage, etc; loss of inheritance; emotional suffering; loss of care, protection, companionship and the pleasures of the family relationship.

Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant and are only awarded when a plaintiff presents clear and convincing evidence of willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, and oppression. In Georgia, punitive damages are limited to $250,000, unless the claimant can demonstrate that the defendant had specific intent to cause harm.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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