If you believe what you see on television and in the movies, you may think all personal injury cases are worth millions of dollars. The truth is that very few cases ever settle for that much. In fact, according to Martingdale-Nolo, the average personal injury case settles for about $52,900. More than 70% of personal injury cases are worthy anywhere from $3,000 to $75,000. The other 30% result in no money at all. Georgia personal injury attorneys are familiar with these numbers. That’s why they’re realistic when they first meet with prospective clients.
Even though we explain to our clients that they shouldn’t expect to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from their personal injury case, they still hold out hope. The way personal injury works is quite simple. If a third party does something that causes you an injury – of any type – you have the option of filing a lawsuit against them. If your damages are small, then you would file suit in small claims court. If, however, it’s rather large, you would file your case with the superior court. You’re only allowed to demand monies for damages you actually suffered. You can’t expect to receive a ton of money if you only suffered whiplash
Here, we’re going to explain how your personal injury damages are calculated. We’ll also highlight a few cases that made the news based on how large the jury awards were. This will put things in perspective a bit when you’re thinking about how much your own case may be worth. If you still have questions or concerns after reading this, just give us a call. We can schedule your free, initial consultation right over the phone.
What Kind of Damages Can You Demand in Your Personal Injury Case?
Before we talk about how much your case is worth, it’s a good idea to discuss the different types of damages you can expect to receive. When you file your lawsuit, you must list your demands on the civil complaint. For example, if you are demanding pain and suffering damages from the defendant, you must indicate this on your court papers. You also have to specify how much you expect to receive. If you don’t include this in your complaint, you won’t be able to demand the defendant pay them later.
The most common types of damages associated with a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia are:
- Medical bills and future medical bills – The defendant should be held accountable for any medical bills you experienced as a result of your accident. This includes things like doctor’s co-pays, ambulance bills, and prescriptions. It also includes future medical bills you may incur. If your doctor tells you that you’ll need additional surgeries in the future, the defendant should have to pay this.
- Property damage – If you’re involved in a car wreck, then the defendant should have to pay to repair or replace your vehicle.
- Lost wages – If you miss more than a week or two from work, then you should be able to collect damages from the other party. If you only miss a few days, however, the court expects you to use personal time or vacation time to cover that.
- Lost future income – If you suffer serious injuries I your accident, you may not be able to return to work. Or, you may have to change careers. If this happens to you, then you can demand the defendant compensate you for the difference in income. For example, imagine that you earned $100,000 before the accident. Now that you can’t work full-time, you’re only going to earn $40,000 per year. This is difference of $60,000 per year. If you have another 20 years before you can retire, you would be able to demand the amount of $60,000 x 20, which comes out to be $1.2 million.
- Pain and suffering – This is where you’ll receive the lion’s share of your damages. Almost all personal injury plaintiffs include a demand for pain and suffering in their complaint. The more serious your injuries, the more you can expect to receive. The general rule is that your pain and suffering demand should be 3 times what you demanded in medical bills. So, if your medical bills were $125,000, you would demand approximately $375,000 in pain and suffering.
How Much Can You Really Expect to Receive in Damages?
It’s impossible for any Georgia personal injury attorney, or Georgia car accident attorney, to give you an exact quote for what your case is worth. However, they can give you a ballpark figure. To put your case in perspective, here are a few of the largest personal injury awards ever issued in the U.S.:
- Case against “Big Tobacco” – The plaintiffs in this case against the largest cigarette manufacturers were awarded $206 billion. Of course, this was a class action so there was more than one plaintiff.
- A lawsuit filed by the parents of an 8-year old boy who was set on fire by another 13-year old boy ended up in a jury award of $150 billion. The victim would go on to die 12 years later from complications related to his burn injuries.
- In another class action case against General Motors, the plaintiffs were awarded $4.9 billion.
When one thinks of the aggravated injuries involved in these cases, it helps put their own case in perspective. If you’re a fan of legal television shows, you may think that all cases end up with this much money. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You need to be realistic about what kind of settlement you will receive.
Are You Ready for Your Consultation with a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney?
If you’ve been injured in any sort of accident, you probably have a claim for damages. You’ll need to file a personal injury case against the person responsible for your injuries. Keep in mind – most of these cases include the defendant’s insurance company as a party. If you’re afraid of suing a friend or neighbor, don’t feel too bad. Any damages paid will more than likely come from their insurance company. The only time they’d be held responsible is if your Georgia personal injury attorney can’t pursue any other party.
What you should do before you go any further is call and talk to one of our lawyers. They can sit down and go over your case. Bring a list of questions you may have, including your most important question – what is my personal injury case worth? While they won’t be able to give you an exact figure, they can at least give you a ballpark figure. Call and schedule your consultation today. It doesn’t cost you a penny so you don’t have to worry about any upfront fees.