One of the most frequent questions clients ask our Macon pedestrian accident lawyers during the initial appointment is “What kind of compensation can I recover?” We’ll break down the types of damages that your lawyer can seek and what factors affect the value of your case.
Your Damages Will Depend on the Nature and Extent of Your Injuries
Many people who are hit by a car or SUV sustain life-threatening injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Back and neck injuries
Any of these injuries can be life-changing. You may not be able to work. You may need nursing care. Thus, if you sustained any of these injuries, you should be entitled to significant damages.
If your only injury is a broken wrist or ankle, you can’t expect to receive more than a few thousand dollars.
Types of Damages in a Pedestrian Accident Case
Most accident victims are entitled to different types of damages. These may include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
However, instances when the court awards punitive damages are rare. The purpose of this type of damage is to punish the defendant and act as a deterrent for others, not to compensate the victim. We will discuss punitive damages in more detail below.
You May Be Entitled to Compensation for Medical Bills and Future Medical Bills
If your attorney can prove that the defendant was at fault, you should receive compensation for your medical care expenses. This includes reimbursement for outstanding medical bills, such as:
- Ambulance ride
- Emergency room visit
- Physical therapy
- Prescription medication
You may also be entitled to damages for future medical expenses. If your doctor testifies that you’ll need future surgeries, physical therapy, or other treatment, you can demand that the defendant pay for them.
Your Lawyer Will Also Demand Compensation for Lost Income
If your injuries are so serious that you can’t work, your attorney will demand compensation for both lost wages and lost future income.
If you miss any time from work immediately after your accident, the defendant should be held accountable. Your attorney will submit copies of your payroll records to document your losses.
If you can no longer do the same kind of work as before the accident, you may demand damages for lost future income. Your attorney will determine the difference between what you would’ve earned and what you will now earn as a result of your injuries.
You must then take this difference and multiply it by the number of years left until retirement. Your claim will specify the present-day value of lost income, not the actual value.
Most Pedestrian Accident Victims Are Eligible for Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages compensate you for any mental or physical anguish you suffered. Many times, pain and suffering make up the lion’s share of your total damages.
There are two common methods that insurance companies use to assign a value to pain and suffering: the multiplier method and the per diem method. The multiplier approach takes the total of your economic damages like medical bills and multiplies it by a number, which is usually between 1.5 and 5. The more severe your injuries, the higher the multiplier number used.
The per diem method, named for the Latin “per day,” multiplies a daily rate by the number of days you suffer pain and discomfort from your injury. The daily rate is usually the wages you earn each day. For example, if you earn roughly $125 each day and you will be in pain for five months (roughly 150 days), your settlement would be $18,750.
If the case goes to trial, your lawyer will use testimony from your doctor as evidence that you’re entitled to pain and suffering damages.
Punitive Damages Are Awarded Only in Special Cases
Let us return to the topic of punitive damages. In most cases, the judge will not award this type of damages in a pedestrian accident case. Unless your lawyer can prove that the defendant’s behavior was egregious or intentional, you will not receive this additional compensation.
For example, if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they hit you, the judge may want to punish them for their actions.
There Is a Cap on Punitive Damages
If the judge decides to award punitive damages in your case, there is a limit to how much you can receive. Georgia law caps punitive damages at $250,000. However, there is an exception.
If you can prove the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there are no caps on punitive damages.
You Can Still Collect Damages Even if You Were Partly at Fault
It’s hard to imagine that a pedestrian could be deemed partly at fault. But it does happen. If this is the case, you are still eligible to collect damages.
Georgia follows a principle called the modified comparative fault. This principle dictates that plaintiffs can collect damages, as long as they were less than 50% at fault. Furthermore, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, imagine that your attorney sues the other driver for $400,000. The court finds that you were 25% at fault for your injuries. Your damages will be reduced by 25%, or $100,000.
Call an Experienced Macon Pedestrian Accident Lawyer!
If you’ve been hurt in a pedestrian accident, our Macon injury lawyers can help. You may be entitled to compensation. However, your chances are higher if you act as soon as possible after your accident.
We offer each new client a free initial consultation, so call us at 229-351-5320 today!