Generally, it is a bad idea to represent yourself in a personal injury case, but one of the key issues for any attorney in a personal injury case is to be able to assess what damages should be payable – and whether it is a court-filing or an insurance settlement that will achieve the best outcome.
An attorney who knows the laws relevant to your case, whether they are laws specific to the state of Georgia or specific to a city, such as Atlanta, can fight a case to ensure that the Georgia laws work to the advantage of the injured party.
A personal injury attorney conducts a formal investigation into your personal injury claim and identifies who the liable parties are for your accident. They then develop a case in which they provide sufficient evidence that proves the liability of the at-fault party.
An attorney also has access to essential resources such as expert witnesses who can provide testimony on your behalf. Your attorney can call in medical experts, accident reconstructionists, and other professionals to explain your injuries or how the accident happened.
To Help You Understand The Damages To Which You Are Entitled
There are two different types of damages that you may be entitled to after your personal injury. The first is called economic damages and includes all of your expenses with an exact dollar amount attached to them.
But ‘economic damages’ is something that encompasses a vast array of potential or actual losses. The range of ‘damages’ for which a liable party might be responsible might – or does – include the following:
- lost earnings (actual or potential)
- damage to real property or loss of real property
- damage to personal property
- lost profits
- past and future medical expenses
- loss of use of personal property
- medical monitoring that may be required
- lost earning capacity
and so on. The range is considerable and requires different approaches and cataloging in any personal injury claim.
While economic damages are more straightforward, it takes a skilled and experienced attorney to fight for all of the non-economic damages you deserve because pain and suffering are much more subjective.
So far as non-economic loss is concerned, this would include –
- physical pain
- mental suffering
- emotional distress
When it comes to proving these losses the experience of your attorney will come into play. For instance, proving medical expenses and lost income is relatively simple (depending upon the case), but the bitter dispute and fighting will come more from the issue of pain and suffering.
Georgia Personal Injury Law
The law in Georgia, for instance, does not require parties to use a specific equation to calculate pain and suffering damages, which leaves the issue to the insurer to assess, or the jury to award as the case may be.
In terms of pain and suffering issues there are a range of factors that will come into play, the effectiveness of which will depend upon your legal representation and the evidence that you are able to provide.
For instance, as a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta who handle such cases, the recovery of damages will be based on the documents that you provide attesting to how much you have paid in medical bills, how much your insurance has covered, what your salary or hourly wages are, what your diagnosis and prognosis are, and if you have any property damage relevant to your case.
In terms of pain and suffering damages there will be several factors that will affect what compensation you might receive, including some, or all, of the following –
- The nature and extent of your injuries – do they include disfigurement or disability?
- How the injury has affected your daily activities
- The length of time for recovery
- Enjoyment of life issues – personal, professional, hobbies etc
- Pain associated with the injury
- Issues of anxiety, fear, stress, depression that might have arisen as a result of the injury
All these factors go into assessing the non-economic damages to which you are entitled.
Non-economic damages compensate a victim for the pain and suffering incurred after an accident. After all, when a jury or judge awards compensation to a victim for their economic damages, that money doesn’t necessarily go to the victim.
Instead, that money is used to pay the healthcare providers who tended to the victim, the shop repairing the vehicle, or a car dealer to purchase a new car. But economic damages don’t cover what makes life worth living, such as having full use and control of your body. Human beings greatly value their ability to live life independently, but debilitating emotional and psychological problems can diminish a person’s capacity to enjoy their life fully.
The Other Side Will Have Their Attorneys
The insurance company and the defendant will have their own legal team representing their interests. When they see that a plaintiff represents themselves, especially one who has not gone to law school, they know that they are dealing with someone who doesn’t fully understand the law or may be aware of their rights.
Insurers are adept at handling these claims and will, for instance, choose a method of ‘valuing’ the non-economic damage that you have incurred, which will be the lowest amount they think is ‘recoverable’. There are different variables they may use in this regard, such as a per diem method that measures the time from injury to the time of ‘recovery’ or a so-called ‘multiplier’ method that will assess the medical costs to come up with a figure that provides the compensation for non-economic loss.
Having the ability to understand what is being offered by an insurer, or taking a case to court, will involve a clear understanding of what damages are available and likely to result in recovery (by Court) or payment (by settlement).
Source: Issa & Castro