This page will look at Georgia personal injury lawsuits and how much they are worth. We will provide a general overview of some key aspects of Georgia tort law, including the types of damages plaintiffs can get under Georgia law and how long they can wait to file. We will also look at the average settlement value of Georgia personal injury lawsuits.
Damages in Georgia Injury Cases
Under Georgia law, anyone who is physically injured by the negligent or reckless conduct of another person or entity is entitled to hold that person financially responsible for the “damages” caused by the injuries. Damages are intended to make the plaintiff whole by restoring them to the position they were in before the injuries. In Georgia, personal injury plaintiffs are entitled to 3 different categories of damages:
- Medical Expenses: Georgia accident victims are entitled to compensation for the full cost of all medical care and treatment for the injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence. As long as the treatment is medically necessary and reasonable, the plaintiff is entitled to recover the full cost. This includes the cost of future medical treatment that may be required down the road.’
- Lost Income: Georgia plaintiffs can get damages for any lost wages or lost income that they incurred as a direct result of the injuries caused by the defendant. For example, let’s say John gets rear-ended by Jane and injuries his back. John can’t go back at all to his job as a roofer for 6 months after the accident. When he finally does go back, John can no longer get up on the roofs and his company has to move him to a desk job that pays $20,000 less per year. If John brings a personal injury lawsuit against Jane, he would be entitled to damages for the 6 weeks of lost wages, plus the $20,000 per year in future lost income.
- Pain & Suffering: under Georgia law, injured plaintiffs can also collect damages for mental pain & suffering related to the physical injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Cap on Damages in Georgia
Many states have enacted laws imposing caps on the maximum amount of damages that plaintiffs can be awarded in personal injury lawsuits. Georgia does not impose any damage cap for personal injury cases involving auto accidents, premises liability, products, and other types of injuries.
That law (GA Code §51-13-1), limits the amount of pain & suffering damages a plaintiff can get in a medical malpractice case to $350,000 from an individual defendant.
In Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery v. Nestlehutt, 691 S.E.2d 218 (Ga. 2010), the Georgia Supreme Court refused to apply the statutory damage cap on the grounds that the law violated Georgia’s state constitution. The damage cap law remains on the books in the Georgia Code, although its validity is doubtful in light of the Nestlehutt decision.
Georgia Statue of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases
All states have statutes of limitations laws that set time limits on how long a plaintiff can wait to file a lawsuit. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is 2-years from the date that the claim “accrues.” GA Code § 9-3-33 If prospective plaintiffs in Georgia don’t file their injury lawsuit within the 2-year limitation period, they will be permanently barred from filing suit.
Georgia follows the “discovery rule” for purposes of determining when a “claim accrues” and the 2-year limitations period begins. Under this doctrine, a claim accrues when the plaintiff knows or reasonably should known that they potentially have a legal claim against the defendant.
In auto accident cases, the claim accrues on the date of the accident because any reasonable person should understand that they have a claim against an at-fault driver. In malpractice cases, however, the date when the claim accrues can be much more complicated.
How Much are Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits Worth?
The potential value of a Georgia personal injury lawsuit in a settlement or trial depends on a number of different factors, but the most important factor is the severity level of the plaintiff’s physical injuries. Cases involving more serious, permanent injuries have a higher settlement value. The chart below shows average settlement values for Georgia personal injury cases based on injury level.
|LEVEL OF INJURY
|LEVEL 1 (Minor)
|$16,000 – $27,000|
|LEVEL 2 (Moderate)
|$55,000 – $129,000|
|LEVEL 3 (Major)
|$205,000 – $520,000|
There are several other factors that have a significant impact on the potential value of an injury case in Georgia. The type of personal injury case (e.g., auto accident vs. medical malpractice) often makes a big difference, in part because of the amount of available insurance to cover any damages.
In many auto accident cases, for example, the value of a case is limited to $150,000 – $200,000 (or even less) because that is the maximum policy limit for auto insurance policies.
Another major factor driving the value of Georgia personal injury cases is what jurisdiction the case is in. Georgia is a state with a very broad range of socio-economic demographics. If you have a personal injury case in Atlanta or DeKalb county it is going to have a much higher value because juries in these locations are more plaintiff-friendly compared to juries in rural parts of the county.
Georgia Personal Injury Verdicts and Settlements
- 2021, Georgia: $195,000 Verdict. A 33-year-old woman was rear-ended. She suffered a thoracic disc herniation. The woman underwent chiropractic treatments for five months. She continued to experience neck and back pain. The woman took prescription painkillers. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed she negligently operated her vehicle. She received a $195,000 jury verdict.
- 2021, Georgia: $200,000,000 Verdict. A 7-year-old boy was at a family reunion. His family rented a ski boat. The boy’s great uncle operated it. He and his cousins sat in the boat’s seating area. Bow swamping occurred. The boat eventually submarined. The boy was washed out. His great uncle could not see him. He put the boat in reverse to prevent it from sinking. The propellor subsequently struck the boy. He died from his injuries. The boy’s parents alleged negligence against the boat manufacturer. They claimed it designed a defective product and failed to warn of the defect. The jury awarded $200,000,000.
- 2021, Georgia: $6,000,000 Verdict. A 46-year-old man was struck at a car auction. He suffered multiple hip tears. The man underwent three hip procedures. He also underwent cortisone injections. The man now experienced difficulty with prolonged walking. He stopped working as a mechanic. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He also made a vicarious liability claim against the auction’s operator. The jury awarded $6,000,000.
- 2021, Georgia: $250,000 Verdict. A woman was on a MARTA bus. The bus driver braked suddenly to avoid rear-ending a vehicle. The impact threw the woman from her seat. She fell to the floor. The woman suffered head, rib, right wrist, and right knee injuries. She alleged negligence against MARTA. The woman claimed its bus driver negligently tailgated, failed to maintain an appropriate lookout, and failed to safely operate the vehicle. She received a $250,000 verdict.
- 2021, Georgia: $3,000,000 Verdict. A 43-year-old woman underwent an outpatient laparoscopy. Following the procedure, she experienced severe abdominal pain. The woman presented to the ER. The surgeon who performed the laparoscopy examined her. Two hours later, the woman was discharged. She died from sepsis two days later. The woman’s family alleged negligence against the hospital. They claimed its staff failed to address and repair a bowel perforation. The jury awarded $3,000,000.
- 2020, Georgia: $65,000 Verdict. A woman was rear-ended at a red light. She suffered a cervical disc herniation, L4-5 arthropathy, left wrist tears, an injured right knee, and a pre-existing lumbar injury. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he failed to slow down and maintain an appropriate lookout. The jury awarded $65,000.
- 2020, Georgia: $1,051,800 Verdict. A woman was rear-ended near an exit ramp. The woman suffered head, neck, and back injuries. She underwent cervical surgery. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed she tailgated her and failed to timely slow down. The woman received $1,051,800.
- 2019, Georgia: $2,350,000 Verdict. A 70-something woman underwent a thoracoscopy. During the procedure, the surgeon damaged her vocal cords during intubation. The woman died six weeks later. Her family alleged negligence against the surgeon. They claimed he failed to properly examine her airways and intubate her. The jury awarded $2,350,000.
- 2019, Georgia: $100,000 Verdict. A woman was rear-ended at a red light. She injured her right shoulder, right arm, and neck. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed she tailgated and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. The jury awarded $100,000.
- 2019, Georgia: $229,461 Verdict. A woman was rear-ended in traffic. She suffered multiple neck injuries. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he tailgated her and failed to timely brake. The jury awarded $229,461.
Finding a Georgia Lawyer
Call 800-553-8082 if you are looking to maximize the jury payout or settlement amount of your personal injury claim in Georgia.