When it comes to personal injury claims in Georgia, determining the value of your case is complicated. There is no set formula for valuing a case, but there are many factors that come into play. Although the following list is not exhaustive, some of the factors that can determine how much your personal injury claim is worth are outlined below.
1. Type of Injury/Damages
Personal injury claims in Georgia can vary from car accidents to medical malpractice to slip and falls. The common theme, of course, is that you are injured because someone else acted negligently or carelessly. The value of a case often hinges on just how badly you are hurt and how much your medical bills or lost wages are. Injuries can range from a little whip lash to catastrophic injuries or even death.
For example, if you are in a car accident and experience whip lash or soft tissue injuries, your medical bills may involve a visit to your doctor and maybe some physical therapy; such bills will likely total less than $10,000.00. On the other hand, if you are in a car accident and end up having surgery, your medical bills could be tens of thousands of dollars, making your case worth more than the smaller injury.
2. The At-Fault Party’s Level of Culpability
In order to assert a successful personal injury claim in Georgia, the claimant or plaintiff must show that the other person or corporation is at-fault for his/her injury. Thus, if you are injured, you have to show that the other person caused you to suffer the injuries in order to recover for your loss.
In a car or trucking accident, fault is usually indicated on the police report. Sometimes, the at-fault driver gets a ticket. But, because the police officer usually is not present to witness the car wreck, the report could contradict what actually happened or what witnesses saw. If the police report does not accurately describe what happen or attribute fault to the correct person, then witness testimony or expert accident reconstruction may help show liability.
In other types of personal injury cases, showing fault can be more difficult. For example, in a slip & fall case in Georgia, a claimant must prove that the property owner knew about a dangerous condition and failed to fix it, causing injury to a visitor or customer. Simply falling or getting hurt on someone else’s property isn’t enough to show fault. Or, in a medical malpractice case, expert testimony from a knowledgeable medical provider is required to prove fault.
3. Venue: Where the Injury Case Will Be Tried
In legal terms, the place where you can properly bring a lawsuit is known as venue. Venue is normally determined by where the at-fault party or the defendant resides. In Georgia, there are certain venues that are more plaintiff or claimant friendly than others. For example, Dekalb County, Fulton County, and Clayton County are venues where juries typically give larger awards to plaintiffs. On the other hand, counties such as Cobb County, Gwinnett County (although Gwinnett County is changing), or other non-metro Atlanta counties are more conservative.
Even if you do not end up filing a lawsuit in your personal injury case, venue does matter when negotiating settlements.