Navigating The Impact Rule in Georgia: What it Means For You

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The Impact Rule in Georgia Law: What it Means For Your Case

The Impact Rule in Georgia law is a legal principle that limits the ability of plaintiffs to recover damages for emotional distress arising from the negligence of another party. Under the Impact Rule, a plaintiff can only recover for emotional distress if they have also suffered a physical injury. In addition, the physical injury must be caused by the same negligence that caused the emotional distress. Georgia law applies the Impact Rule to injury cases because emotional injuries are too difficult to calculate. The rule also prevents fraudulent claims.

Why the Impact Rule came into existence 

The Georgia Supreme Court first adopted the Impact Rule in the case of Ryckeley v. Callaway, 261 Ga. 828 (1992). In that case, the court held that “in a claim concerning negligent conduct, a recovery for emotional distress is allowed only where there is some impact on the plaintiff, and that impact must be a physical injury.

The Impact Rule has been criticized by some legal scholars who argue that denying plaintiffs recovery for emotional distress is unfair simply because they did not suffer a physical impact. However, the rule remains in effect in Georgia law.

Are there exceptions to the Impact Rule in Georgia? 

Yes, there are a few exceptions to the Impact Rule. For example, if a bystander witnesses a car accident that results in the death of a loved one. The bystander may be able to recover damages for their emotional distress, even if they did not suffer any physical injuries.

Additionally, a plaintiff can recover damages for emotional distress if they can show that they suffered a monetary loss, such as medical expenses, due to the negligent act. 

Another example is a pedestrian struck by a car and suffered a broken leg. The pedestrian may be able to recover damages for their physical injuries and the emotional distress they suffered as a result of the accident.

The Impact Rule in Georgia: How emotional distress comes into play

Emotional distress is the mental anguish a person experiences after a traumatic experience. Typical forms of psychological injuries after car accidents, assaults, dog attacks, and other events include:

  • Chronic anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Irrational fears
  • Shame or humiliation
  • Guilt

Under the Georgia Impact Rule, a plaintiff can only claim compensation for emotional distress if:

  • The plaintiff suffered a physical impact during the event
  • The physical impact caused physical injury to the plaintiff
  • The plaintiff’s physical injury caused emotional distress

According to this rule, only a person who suffered a physical injury can claim compensation for emotional distress.

If you have been injured due to another party’s negligence and suffered emotional distress, you should speak to an Atlanta personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options. An attorney can help you determine whether you can recover damages for your emotional distress under the Impact Rule or one of the exceptions to the rule.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind about the Impact Rule in Georgia law:

  • The Impact Rule does not apply to intentional torts, such as assault and battery.
  • The Impact Rule does not apply to claims for wrongful death.
  • The Impact Rule can be waived by the defendant.

If you have any questions about the Impact Rule or whether you may have a claim for emotional distress, you should speak with an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney.

Our experienced Atlanta personal injury attorneys can help.

Contact us if you have been involved in a personal injury accident in Atlanta or surrounding areas, or call Georgia Trial Attorneys at 833-4TheWin. We are experienced car accident attorneys who are here to help you. It is essential to understand your options, and you need an expert on your side. At Georgia Trial Attorneys, we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. We will tailor your case to your specific situation.

We work with clients throughout Atlanta and surrounding areas, including; Norcross, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Dekalb County, Clayton County, Fayette County, Forsyth County, Fulton County, and Gwinnett County.


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