Being involved in a car accident in Atlanta usually means you are losing money. You might have to miss work, you may have a pile of medical bills, and your out-of-pocket spending could drain your bank account quickly.
However, if you weren’t at fault for the wreck, you may be able to get compensation for your losses. The trouble is, getting that compensation can be difficult. The insurance company will do everything they can to limit how much money they give you. That’s why it’s important to speak with an Atlanta car accident lawyer before you ever talk to an insurance company.
At Rafi Law Firm, we have the skills and experience to get you the compensation you deserve. When you work with us, you work with a team of lawyers who are intimately familiar with the local and state laws that dictate how much compensation you may be owed.
Give us a call at 404-800-1156 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with an Atlanta car accident lawyer today.
Types of Damages Available After a Car Accident in Atlanta
According to O.C.G.A. § 51-12-2, there are two main types of damages recoverable after a car accident: general and special.
Special damages are generally easy to calculate, as they relate to real money you lost. As such, they are often called “economic” damages. Special damages often include:
- Lost wages
- Past and estimated future medical bills
- Past and future rehabilitation costs
- Estimated future lost wages
- Lost employment opportunities
General damages are designed to compensate you for losses that can’t easily be assigned a monetary value. As such, they are often called “noneconomic” damages. Because these damages aren’t related to a monetary loss, they are usually assessed as a multiplier for the real money you did lose.
Factors that can be considered in the general damages multiplier include:
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- General suffering
- Physical disfigurement
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional trauma
Georgia law says that general damages are those that can apply to generally all personal injury cases to some extent. However, special damages are “unique to your case. For example, two similar car wrecks can result in vastly different injuries and, therefore, medical bills.
To determine how much you may be owed, your Atlanta car accident lawyer will first take all of your special damages into account and calculate how much you have spent out of pocket. Then, they will consider your general damages and determine which multiplier should be applied (between 1.5 and 5) based on the likely future costs of your condition. The worse your injuries and their impact on your life, the higher the multiplier.
Calculating Your Losses in an Example Car Accident
You are driving down Georgia 400 and get off on Lenox Road on a busy Saturday night. As you’re turning onto Lenox Road, a drunk driver comes careening through the intersection and slams into the side of your car. You are taken by ambulance to the hospital, where you are treated for a broken arm, an intracranial hematoma (brain bleed), broken ribs, a punctured lung, and other minor injuries.
Because of the damage to your brain, you are unable to return to work for at least a month. In addition, your broken arm will never heal properly, impacting your ability to perform your day-to-day duties for the rest of your life.
When you call an Atlanta car accident lawyer from Rafi Law Firm, we take a look at all of your losses. They amount to:
- $230,000 in current and estimated future medical and rehabilitation costs.
- $6,000 in lost wages (about $27 an hour, times 8 hours a day, times 40 hours a week, times six weeks of missed work).
- $2,400 in future lost wages (one missed day a week for ongoing doctor’s appointments at $200 a day in missed wages).
- $50,000 in lost earning opportunities because your brain injury limits your ability to work as hard as you once did, therefore limiting your ability to get a promotion or seek better work.
In total, this comes out to $288,400 in total special damages. Also, because your injuries limit your life so much, and you won’t ever fully recover from your brain injury, we decide to calculate the multiplier at 4.5. With this multiplier applied, we will petition the court for $1,297,800. That’s the special damages calculated by the 4.5 general damages multiplier.
Our ultimate goal will be to get you as close to this amount possible out of court by negotiating with the insurance company. But if they refuse to offer a fair settlement, we have the skills and experience to fight for compensation on your behalf in court.
Don’t worry; Mike Rafi and his team will be by your side throughout the process. We won’t accept or reject any offer without your approval.
What Are Punitive Damages?
In addition to special and general damages (collectively called compensatory damages), there are times in which you may be entitled to punitive damages. Also called “vindictive damages,” punitive damages are only awarded under very specific circumstances. They are not intended to compensate you for losses, but to punish the person who caused the wreck.
O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1 states that vindictive damages may be awarded if the actions of the person who caused the wreck showed “willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.”
These are very high standards that you must prove. Some of the most common reasons punitive damages are assessed are if the other driver is driving drunk, street racing, or are taking other actions that show a complete disregard for others’ safety. If punitive damages are awarded, there is no limit to the amount that can be assessed.
How Does Fault Impact the Worth of my Atlanta Car Accident Case?
Under Georgia law, you can still recover compensation if you are partially at fault for the wreck. However, you must be no more than 49 percent at fault for the wreck. But if you are partially at fault, the amount you receive will be reduced by the percentage at which you are held liable.
For instance, assume that you are back on GA 400, coming home from work during rush hour. Traffic suddenly stops in front of you, and you’re forced to slam on your brakes. However, one of your brake lights isn’t working properly, and the car behind you doesn’t see that you’ve stopped until it’s too late.
You’re rear-ended, causing a spinal fracture. In total, your losses amount to $100,000 after the multiplier is calculated. But, because your tail lights weren’t working properly, you are found 15% at fault. This means you would be entitled to $85,000 when all is said and done.
Get Help from an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Today
Getting compensation after a car wreck can be complicated. Even calculating your economic losses can require the assistance of doctors and other professionals. And determining the general damages multiplier may require the help of other experts like psychologists to determine your level of mental anguish or pain and suffering.
At Rafi Law Firm, we have handled just about every kind of car accident out there. That means we know how to navigate the legal system and negotiate with insurance companies to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Before you even talk to the insurance company, talk to us about all of your legal options. The moment you accept any settlement offer, you forfeit your right to seek greater compensation.
Give us a call at 404-800-1156 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with an Atlanta car accident lawyer today.
He was beyond professional and hardworking.
We highly recommend Rafi Law Firm! Mike’s services led to the most equitable outcome.
Mr.Rafi and his team were a pleasure to work with!