Stephen Hasner | Medical Malpractice | January 22, 2022
The terms medical malpractice and medical negligence are often used interchangeably. However, the meanings are slightly different.
Medical malpractice involves intent. In this case, a medical professional failed to do something with the knowledge that the failure could harm the patient. Intent is not an element of medical negligence. With medical negligence, the medical professional made a mistake or error without intending to hurt the patient.
Both medical malpractice and medical negligence can result in harm to the patient. If a patient is harmed by intentional conduct or medical mistakes, they may be entitled to compensation for damages. Seeking legal advice promptly is the best way to protect your right to fair compensation.
What Do You Need to Know About Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence Claims in Savannah?
Not every adverse outcome in a medical case rises to the level of malpractice. Doctors are not held accountable for unforeseeable consequences of treatment or surgery or other factors outside of their control. However, medical professionals can be liable if they fail to provide the proper standard of care and injure a patient.
Things that you should know about medical malpractice claims in Savannah are:
You Have the Burden of Proving the Legal Elements of Medical Malpractice
Proving medical negligence or medical malpractice caused your injury requires that you prove the following legal elements in court:
- The medical professional owed you a duty of care
- The medical professional deviated from the acceptable standard of care
- The breach of duty was the proximate and direct cause of your injury or harm
- You sustained damages because of the breach of duty
The key to establishing medical malpractice is proving the doctor deviated from the acceptable standard of care. However, medical malpractice cases are tricky; the standard of care changes based on the specific field of medicine and treatment.
Medical malpractice cases are also complicated because they require the use of medical experts to establish the standard of care for a given situation. Medical experts must testify to the standard of care given the facts of the case. Generally, you need a medical expert that practices in the same field as your medical provider and has the same level of skill and experience.
Medical experts for both sides (plaintiff/injured patient and defendant/medical provider) will explain how the conduct satisfied or deviated from the acceptable standard of care. Finally, you must prove that your doctor’s conduct directly caused your injury and damages. If you were not injured or did not sustain damages, the doctor may not be guilty of medical malpractice.
You Need an Affidavit From a Medical Expert
Georgia Code §9-11-9.1 requires that you attach an affidavit from a medical expert to your medical malpractice complaint. The medical expert certifies a factual basis exists for the allegations of medical malpractices. Without the affidavit, the court may dismiss your lawsuit.
Deadlines for Filing Medical Malpractice Claims in Savannah, GA
Most medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within two years of the malpractice. However, if you did not discover the harm or injury right away, the two years may begin on the date you discovered the harm or should have reasonably discovered the harm.
However, the time to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice cannot exceed five years from the date of the malpractice, except in specific situations. For example, the time to file a claim for foreign objects left in your body is one year from the date you discover the foreign object is inside of you. There may be exceptions for minors.
It is best to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer immediately if you suspect a medical provider harmed you.
Damages Available for a Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical malpractice may result in emotional, physical, and financial damages. Injured patients may be entitled to:
- Cost of medical care and treatment
- Loss of income, earning capacity, benefits, and future wages
- Pain and suffering caused by emotional distress, physical injuries, and mental anguish
- Disfigurement, impairments, and disabilities
- Loss of enjoyment of life and diminished quality of living
- Long-term nursing or personal care
The value of your damages depends on the facts of your case. Economic damages (financial losses) are not capped in Georgia. You may receive reimbursement for all monetary losses.
Georgia laws once capped the amount of non-economic damages (pain and suffering) a person could receive. However, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the cap was unconstitutional. Therefore, a jury can award any amount for non-economic damages related to your injuries.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
There are many types of medical malpractice and negligence that can cause patient harm and injury. Some of the most common types of medical malpractice claims involve:
- Surgical errors
- Birth injuries
- Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis
- Anesthesia errors
- Failing to maintain equipment and sterile environment
- Medication errors
- Failure to obtain informed consent
- Diagnostic errors
- Emergency room errors
Doctors, medical facilities, nurses, and other medical providers and staff members can all be liable for damages caused by medical negligence and malpractice.
How Do I Know if I Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If a doctor or other medical provider injured you, you deserve fair compensation. If your loved one died because of medical malpractice or medical negligence, your family could be entitled to wrongful death benefits.
Medical malpractice and medical negligence can be challenging to identify. The best way to know whether you have a claim is to speak with an experienced Savannah medical malpractice lawyer.