Money that is awarded to a person injured by another party’s negligence is often referred to as damages in the context of tort law. Compensatory damages in personal injury cases are intended to make the victim whole again by covering the costs of caring for the harm caused.
People who are injured in Georgia are entitled to seek certain types of damages from a negligent party, depending on the specific nature of the incident and the severity of the injuries suffered. The Georgia Code does establish limits—commonly referred to as “damage caps”—on specific kinds of damages.
Did you suffer serious injuries or was your loved one killed as the result of another party’s negligence in Georgia? You will want to immediately contact Marcus A. Roberts & Associates for help pursuing justice.
Marcus A. Roberts is an experienced personal injury attorney in Atlanta who represents clients in communities throughout Gwinnett County, Fulton County, Clayton County, DeKalb County, and Cobb County. Our lawyer will provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation as soon as you call 404-577-4444 today.
Georgia Code § 51-12-2(b) establishes that special damages are “those that actually flow from a tortious act.” Special damages must be proven in order to be recovered.
Special damages are quantifiable financial losses that a victim suffers as the result of a negligent offender’s conduct. Economic damages is another common name for special damages.
Common types of special damages include, but are not limited to:
The State of Georgia does not impose any legal limit on special damages.
Under Georgia Code § 51-12-2(a), general damages are defined as “those which the law presumes to flow from any tortious act.” General damages may be recovered without proof of any amount.
General damages are less quantifiable types of harm than special damages. For this reason, general damages are commonly referred to as noneconomic damages.
Common types of general damages in personal injury cases include, but are not limited to:
Georgia Code § 51-13-1 imposes damage caps of $350,000 on noneconomic damages against one or more health care providers or against single medical facilities. In a medical malpractice action against more than one medical facility, the noneconomic damages are capped at $350,000.00 from any single medical facility and $700,000.00 from all medical facilities, regardless of the number of defendant medical facilities against whom the claim is asserted or the number of separate causes of action on which the claim is based. The aggregate amount of noneconomic damages in no event can exceed $1.05 million.
On March 22, 2010, the Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed the judgment of a trial court that granted a motion to declare Georgia Code § 51-13-1 unconstitutional. In Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery, P.C. v. Nestlehutt, 2010 WL 1004996 (Ga. March 22, 2010), the Supreme Court noted that the Georgia Constitution states plainly that “[t]he right to trial by jury shall remain inviolate.”
“Based on the foregoing, we conclude that at the time of the adoption of our Constitution of 1798, there did exist the common law right to a jury trial for claims involving the negligence of a health care provider, with an attendant right to the award of the full measure of damages, including noneconomic damages, as determined by the jury,” the Court wrote.
Georgia Code § 51-12-5.1(a) states that punitive damages is “synonymous with the terms ‘vindictive damages,’ ‘exemplary damages,’ and other descriptions of additional damages awarded because of aggravating circumstances in order to penalize, punish, or deter a defendant.” Punitive damages are awarded “only in such tort actions in which it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.”
Punitive damages are not awarded as compensation to a plaintiff, but rather solely to punish, penalize, or deter a defendant. Under Georgia Code § 51-12-5.1(e), there is no limit on the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded in a products liability case, but 75 percent of any amounts awarded must be paid into the State treasury.
Georgia Code § 51-12-5.1(f) further establishes that there is no limit on punitive damages in a tort case in which the “defendant acted, or failed to act, with the specific intent to cause harm, or that the defendant acted or failed to act while under the influence of alcohol, drugs other than lawfully prescribed drugs administered in accordance with prescription, or any intentionally consumed glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to that degree that his or her judgment is substantially impaired.” In all other tort actions, punitive damages are limited to a maximum of $250,000.
If you sustained catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed by another party’s negligence, it is in your best interest to quickly retain legal counsel. Marcus A. Roberts & Associates represents clients all over Georgia on a contingency fee basis so there is no concern about paying us anything unless we get you a financial award.
Atlanta personal injury lawyer Marcus A. Roberts fights for residents and visitors in Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, DeKalb County, and Clayton County. He can review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call 404-577-4444 or submit an online contact form to receive a free, no obligation consultation.