When a person operates a motor vehicle in a reckless and negligent manner that causes a collision and subsequent injury to another, a personal injury negligence action is created. As previously discussed, the strength of the claim is largely based on the quality of the evidence.
This is part 2 of our 5-part series covering evidence that attorneys should collect to maximize the value of a motor vehicle accident case involving injury. Last week we reviewed the necessary foundational evidence to establish a personal injury case: the injured person's medical records. Today our topic will cover the foundational evidence required to establish the damages and baseline value of the case defined in the law as “Special Damages.”
Medical Bills and Lost Wage Documentation
Special Damages are set forth in Georgia Law in O.C.G.A. §51-12-2. Special damages are those quantifiable financial losses that a person incurs directly from the result of another person's negligent conduct. In applying this to our discussion, these are the out-of-pocket financial costs, expenses or lost income due to the personal injury suffered in a motor vehicle accident. Furthermore, the law states that should a claimant establish liability upon another for causing a personal injury, special damages must be awarded.
The client's medical bills for treatment directly related to the injury sustained in the accident are necessary. Similarly, a person is entitled to receive special damages compensation for their lost wages due to missing work because of the injury sustained in the accident. The best evidence to support a lost wage claim is the person's paystubs. It's necessary to obtain several paystubs prior to the accident to establish a pattern of expected income and then, of course, the paystubs after the accident to show the amount of financial losses incurred. These can be in actual pay loss, but also in loss of vacation or personal time that an employer grants the injured employee. Since these damages must be awarded to the injured person, they form the baseline or minimum amount of recovery a person is entitled to receive.
A person cannot simply state a loss or estimate one. Georgia law requires that these special damages be quantified. Thus, financial losses in a personal injury case must be supported by documenting evidence of the medial bills, prescription receipts, paystubs and possibly tax records.
To learn about the next piece of evidence, return for Part 3 of the series. And, as always, if you have been injured in an accident that requires legal action, you can contact The Mark Casto Law Firm, PC online or at (706) 940-4030.