According to a Johns Hopkins researcher, medical mistakes account for more than 250,000 deaths in a year.
This would make medical mistakes the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
Furthermore, thousands of other patients are injured by errors committed by the doctors in whom they had entrusted their care.
If you believe a medical professional has injured you, you might be entitled to compensation. Reach out to a Georgia medical malpractice attorney today.
What are the laws around Georgia medical malpractice?
According to Georgia statute 51-1-27, any person who holds themselves out as practicing medicine or surgery can be sued for medical malpractice if they do not use “a reasonable degree of care and skill” and an injury results. The precise care and skill will depend on the circumstances but should be that used by other doctors in the profession.
As explained by the Georgia Supreme Court, an injured patient must establish three elements to have a valid claim:
- A duty inherent in the doctor-patient relationship
- A breach of that duty by the failure to exercise required skill and care
- A proximate connection between the breach and the patient’s injury
In many Georgia medical malpractice cases, the second and third elements will be in dispute. For example, a doctor might defend their medical decision by arguing they were sufficiently careful under the circumstances.
The law does not require that doctors be perfect, only that they were not careless, so many doctors will claim they did what other doctors would have done in the same situation.
Similarly, a doctor might claim that their mistake did not really cause your injury. Instead, you might have had a pre-existing injury, or your injury was unavoidable regardless of the doctor’s medical mistake.
Examples of Medical Malpractice in Georgia
Doctors and other healthcare professionals can make many mistakes that cause injury or even death. For example, a doctor can injure a patient by:
- Failure to make a correct diagnosis: Because of the failed diagnosis, the patient either does not receive treatment or receives the wrong treatment.
- Failure to provide proper treatment: The doctor might accurately diagnose the patient but not provide the proper course of treatment.
- Failure to look after a patient: The doctor might not follow up properly with a patient, which results in injury or death.
- Failure to perform surgery properly: For example, a surgeon might leave implements, like sponges, inside a patient.
- Failure to administer anesthesia properly: Patients can die or suffer brain damage if anesthesia is not managed properly.
- Failure to exercise care during delivery: Many mistakes before or during labor and delivery can injure the child or mother.
Each medical malpractice case turns on its own unique set of facts, so you should meet with a Georgia medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to review whether you have a valid case.
Georgia Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Georgia does not give injured patients an unlimited amount of time to bring a lawsuit. Instead, according to O.C.G.A. 9-3-71, you must sue within two years of the date of injury or death. If you do not meet this deadline, then you will not be able to sue for financial compensation.
However, Georgia’s statute of repose cuts off your ability to sue after 5 years from the date of the act that caused your injury. This means that even if you could not reasonably discover the injury before the passage of five years, you still cannot sue.
A separate law applies to foreign objects left in the body. In that situation, you only get one year from the date of discovery. So, if you had surgery three years ago but only now discovered the surgeon had left something in you, then you get a year from the date of discovery to sue.
Medical Malpractice Cases in Georgia
If you believe that you have been the victim of a medical mistake, then you should meet with an attorney to discuss your options.
A medical malpractice case takes a considerable amount of time to build from the ground up. For example, your lawyer will want to see:
- Entire medical records, including records for any pre-existing condition
- Information on the doctors and hospitals who have been treating you
- Proof of financial loss, such as medical bills and receipts for medical equipment or treatment
- Information about the pain and suffering caused by your injuries
Your lawyer might also need to interview doctors, nurses, and other people with relevant knowledge of your medical treatment. This testimony can help establish what exactly happened and whether someone made a mistake.
When you are ready to file your case, you will file a complaint with an appropriate court. According to § 9-11-9.1, you also must file an expert affidavit along with your complaint. This affidavit must be written by a medical expert who has reviewed the evidence and can testify on the case.
The expert must identify at least one negligent act the doctor or healthcare provider committed that contributed to your injuries.
If you cannot file the affidavit with your complaint, you might be able to get a 45-day extension, but you should not count on it. Instead, most injured patients must file the affidavit with their initial complaint.
Because qualified medical experts are hard to find, you should work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Georgia. Experts are usually practicing or former professionals in the same specialty as the health care provider you are suing. If you go to trial, this expert can testify on your behalf.
Contact a Georgia Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
Injured patients or their surviving relatives need compensation to help them get well and reimburse them for their economic losses. For example, you can receive compensation for medical care to treat the injury, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
To fully analyze what compensation is available, meet as soon as possible with an attorney.
At Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, we have represented injured patients for over 30 years, and we have obtained numerous seven-figure settlements or jury awards on behalf of our clients. To schedule your free consultation, please call or submit our contact form.