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Damages Arising from Automobile Accidents in Georgia

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If you have been involved in an automobile accident as a result of the negligence of someone else, the time to act is now. Many people who have been injured in an automobile collision may not realize that Georgia law affords injury victims certain rights and protections that begin immediately.

Georgia law provides that the individual or entity whose negligence caused the accident (known as the tortfeasor) is responsible for the damages inflicted to all persons injured in the accident. With respect to automobile accidents, the goal of the judicial system is to restore the injury victim to his or her position immediately prior to the accident or injury. This goal, however, is literally impossible because no one can turn back time. Therefore, lawmakers and the courts have decided in their collective wisdom that the only meaningful way to restore the injury victim to his or her pre-accident state is by requiring the tortfeasor to compensate him or her in such a way as to proportionally reflect the extent of the damages inflicted.

In Georgia, the measure of damages resulting from an automobile collision can be divided into two general categories. The first category is known as special damages. Special damages include all of those items that were actually suffered by the injured party and are able to be calculated to a precise dollar amount. Costs to repair the injury victim's vehicle or other damaged property, hospital and medical bills, and lost wages (i.e., time the injury victim was unable to work as a result of injuries sustained), are all examples of special damages.

The next category of damages consists of general damages. General damages include all those intangible items of damages suffered as a result of the tortfeasor's actions, such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium. Pain and suffering, as its name suggests, consists of an amount of damages to fairly compensate the injury victim for all the intangible pain, aggravation, and hardship experienced as a result of the accident. Loss of consortium is an element of damages exclusively available to the victim's spouse, parent, or guardian, representing the loss of companionship the spouse, parent, or guardian has experienced as a result of the victim's injuries. Under Georgia law, the calculation of general damages is left to the enlightened conscience of a fair and impartial jury.

In certain instances, the injury victim may also be entitled to what is known as exemplary or punitive damages. Unlike special and general damages, punitive damages are not concerned with restoring the victim to his or her original position before the accident; punitive damages focus solely at the conduct of the tortfeasor, seeking to punish the tortfeasor for his or her wrongful behavior. Because of the different policy goal behind this element of damages, punitive damages are awardable in cases where there has been more than just simple negligence. These damages are awardable only in cases where the tortfeasor has acted deliberately to harm the injury victim has acted grossly negligent or reckless, such as in a situation where the tortfeasor operated his of her vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, call Mills & Hoopes today for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Steve Mills is the managing partner in the law firm of Mills & Hoopes, LLC, in Lawrenceville, Georgia. For more information on our legal services or your legal needs in areas such as contractual matters, litigation, commercial real estate, immigration, environmental matters, wills, divorce and family matters, personal injury, collections, small claims, landlord tenant or any criminal matters, please visit out website www.millshoopeslaw.com 

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