Are you pursuing a medical malpractice claim and wondering about the amount of compensation you may receive? In the state of Georgia, economic damages do not have limits, and statutes no longer dictate damages caps on the amount of compensation you may receive for pain and suffering (non-economic damages) in cases involving personal injuries or death. However, there are still caps on punitive damages.
History of Georgia Statutes and Damages Caps
In 2005, a cap of $350,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases was put in place, with the cap increasing to $700,000 if liability fell on more than one defendant.
However, in 2010 the Georgia Supreme Court ruled these caps to be unconstitutional in the case of Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery, P.C. v Nestlehutt. According to the American Medical Association, this ruling was based on three points: “(1) the right of trial by jury, (2) the separation of powers doctrine, and (3) the right of equal protection of the laws”.
With this ruling came the end of a cap for non-economic damages in Georgia. However, there is still a limit on punitive damages in medical malpractice cases.
What are the Different Types of Damages in Georgia Malpractice Cases?
Most states in the U.S. have limits on how much compensation can be awarded in cases involving negligence. As previously mentioned, non-economic damages no longer have caps in Georgia. However, caps for punitive damages remain.
The following are examples of economic damages:
- Medical expenses may include hospital bills, rehabilitation and therapy fees, and other medical treatment costs.
- Loss of ability to earn a living.
- Loss of income.
- Funeral and burial costs.
- Loss of ability to perform necessary services, such as domestic services, without receiving compensation.
- Any other monetary expenses.
According to Georgia statutes, these do not have a cap and may include past, present, or future costs related to the incident.
The following are examples of non-economic damages:
- Loss of quality of life.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress, such as discomfort, anxiety, and mental anguish.
- Loss of companionship, society, or consortium.
- Physical disfigurement or impairment.
These do not have a cap, although the amount can be harder to quantify than economic damages.
Punitive damages are not awarded as compensation but rather as punishment for negligence to help ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated. This makes it crucial that there is an ability to award punitive damages that will help prevent further negligence in the future.
Insurance companies are proponents of damage caps since they are most often responsible for making the payouts. A cap on punitive damages benefits these companies as paying a settlement for injuries and wrongful death is often cheaper than investing in correcting safety hazards. This can make it more challenging for punitive damages to have their intended effect.
These damages have a cap of $250,000. The majority of that amount is paid to the state (75% of it). There are exceptions to this limit in cases of 1) product liability, 2) intent to cause harm, or 3) intoxication.
Work with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
It is crucial to seek legal advice to determine if you have a medical malpractice case and how much compensation you may be awarded. This article is for general information purposes only. You need an attorney that can prove negligence, quantify damages, and appropriately classify your case so that you may receive the maximum amount in compensation.
At Strickland and Kendall, LLC, we have helped many clients win their medical malpractice cases and receive the compensation they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation-we accept all calls 24 hours a day!