Stephen Hasner | Medical Malpractice | June 5, 2021
You do not expect your doctor to cause you harm. Instead, you expect your doctor to help you get better by treating your injuries or illnesses. But, unfortunately, medical mistakes are common.
Not every negative outcome of medical treatment is necessarily a doctor’s fault. However, there are many cases in which injuries and poor results could indicate medical malpractice. Unfortunately, knowing when to sue a doctor in Georgia can be tricky.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Georgia
Medical negligence can result in a medical malpractice lawsuit. You must prove the legal elements of medical malpractice to recover compensation for your damages.
The legal requirements of medical malpractice are:
- The doctor owed you a duty of care
- The doctor’s actions or inactions breached the duty of care
- The breach of care was the direct and proximate result of your injury
- You sustained damages
If your doctor makes an error or mistake that does not result in injury and damages, you will not recover any money for a medical malpractice claim. There must be a breach of the duty of care AND damages for a doctor to be guilty of medical malpractice.
Additionally, before you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must obtain an affidavit from a medical expert. The medical expert certifies that there is a factual basis for your medical malpractice lawsuit. Without the affidavit, your lawsuit may be dismissed by the court.
Furthermore, you must file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations for filing medical malpractice lawsuits. If you were not aware that a doctor’s error caused your injury, the time to file your lawsuit begins when you should have reasonably discovered the injury. There is an absolute five-year deadline for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit unless the lawsuit involves a foreign object left inside your body.
When medical malpractice involves a foreign object left in the body, you have one year from the date you discover the object to file a medical malpractice claim. This exception does not apply to chemical compounds or prosthetic aids.
What Are Common Reasons for Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Georgia?
There are many ways in which a physician or other medical provider can harm a patient.
Some of the common reasons for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit include:
- Anesthesia errors
- Labor and delivery mistakes (birth injuries)
- Cancer misdiagnosis
- Mistakes during diagnostic tests and failing to order diagnostic tests
- Failure to diagnose a condition
- Medical equipment failure
- Emergency room errors
- Failing to review a patient’s medical history
- Medication errors
- Serious infections
- Radiological errors
- Failure to obtain informed consent
- Surgical mistakes
Documenting medical malpractice can be challenging. Seeking immediate medical care and treatment for injuries or harm is essential. Keep all documentation and make careful notes about what the new doctor says about the injury or illness.
Compensation Available in a Medical Malpractice Claim
For example, damages in medical malpractice claim may include:
- The cost of diagnosing the injuries and harm caused by medical malpractice
- Cost of additional medical care and treatment
- Personal care and in-home health care services
- The loss of income, including loss of future earnings
- Physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering
- Disabilities, scarring, disfigurement, and permanent impairments
- Decrease in the patient’s quality of life or enjoyment of life
Georgia once had a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. However, that cap was ruled unconstitutional by Georgia’s Supreme Court. Today, there is no cap on the amount of money you could receive for a medical malpractice claim.
The value of your medical malpractice claim depends on many factors, including the extent of the harm caused by the malpractice and the strength of your evidence of malpractice.
Steps to Take if You Want to Sue Your Doctor In Georgia
Seek medical treatment immediately. Obtain your treatment from another doctor.
Documenting the damages caused by medical malpractice is crucial to your case. Document damages such as lost time from work, medical and personal care expenses, household help, over-the-counter medications, and other expenses related to the malpractice. Keep copies of receipts and bills.
If you suspect that you were injured because of medical malpractice, contact a medical malpractice lawyer immediately. These types of personal injury cases are very complex. Hiring an experienced malpractice lawyer can help you avoid making mistakes that could hurt your case.