Medical malpractice is different from regular personal injury law. While the basics are the same, there are some unique issues to understand. For instance, healthcare providers owe a duty to you as a patient. This is known as the “standard of care,” and it controls just about everything in a medical malpractice case.
To prove your case and obtain compensation, you need to show:
- The applicable standard of care – This will vary in each case. A nurse working in a hospital may have a different standard of care from a doctor. A doctor in a private practice may have a different standard of care from one in a hospital emergency room. Therefore, the way to establish the standard is through the use of highly skilled expert witnesses. These are medical specialists who testify about what the appropriate medical standard is and how that standard was not met.
- Violation of the standard – In a medical negligence case, you need to show that the healthcare professional failed to exercise a reasonable degree of care and skill. In other words, the question is whether similarly educated, trained, and experienced medical professionals would consider the defendant’s conduct reasonable under the circumstances and whether the actions or failure to act are within the standards of practice for that profession.
- Causation – As with all personal injury claims, you have to show that the defendant directly caused your injuries. If a person would have developed a particular medical condition regardless of the doctor’s negligence, then it will likely fail to be a successful case. You have to be able to show that the healthcare professional’s action or inaction was the reason for your injury.
- Extent of your damages – Finally, as with all personal injury cases, you must show the extent to which you were injured. Did you lose your ability to work? Did you incur medical expenses trying to get cured? Have you lost income or become permanently disabled or disfigured? These are the types of issues that you would need to prove to be compensated.
As attorneys who help clients suffering through medical negligence injuries, Sherrod & Bernard, P.C., is prepared to carefully work with you and a team of highly trained medical experts to prove each element of your case. If we can obtain a settlement, we help our clients resolve their cases through negotiations. If not, and a jury trial is the only way to hold a healthcare provider accountable, we are never afraid to take on large healthcare corporations and their insurance carriers.
Compensation in a Medical Malpractice Claim
Much like other injury cases, you have a number of options for compensation when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Georgia.
You can claim these and other types of compensation:
- Pain and suffering caused by the malpractice
- Emotional distress
- Medical expenses
- Future medical costs
- Lost wages
- Lost ability to earn income
- Permanent disabilities or disfigurement
- Loss of a normal life
How Long Do You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Georgia?
Georgia law gives medical malpractice survivors just two years from the date of the negligent care to bring a lawsuit. This may sound like a long time, but keep in mind that most people spend months trying to get repeated procedures or follow-up care to fix the problem. They may be in denial, or their doctors keep telling them it will get better. Eventually, it could be a year or longer before the person finally goes to an attorney. It can take several months to obtain all of the necessary treatment records followed by several more months of careful attorney review and consultations with skilled experts.
As you can see, the longer you wait, the harder it may be to successfully get your case before a court at all. If you miss the deadline, you will forever lose your right to take action.
Also, keep in mind that if you received care in a state, county, or federal facility, or from a physician or other healthcare provider affiliated with the government, the statute of limitations could be much shorter.
There are some situations where the statute of limitations may be considerably longer. Three such situations are:
- Child injuries – Generally, the court will extend the deadline for filing in cases involving minors.
- Mental disabilities – In some cases, the court will extend the deadline for filing a lawsuit for people living with severe cognitive deficits, such as dementia or those who are in a coma.
- Delayed diagnosis/Items left in a patient – Georgia law allows patients up to a year after discovering that an item was left inside them during a surgery, regardless of when the surgery took place. The law also provides some extensions for misdiagnosis cases, but these are limited and not always available in all cases.
What to Do if You Suspect Medical Malpractice
If you suspect that you have suffered an injury due to medical malpractice, you need to contact an attorney as soon as you can. Do not wait until the last minute to talk to an attorney. It takes time to develop a medical malpractice case and prepare for litigation. Plus, the sooner you get an attorney involved, the sooner you can get a thorough medical and legal review of your records and treatment history. Even if you end up not having a case, sometimes this helps people find closure and better understand how their injuries happened.
Likewise, if you’ve lost a loved one due to a medical error, you need to act fast. You may need to establish a probate estate in order to obtain legal authority to file a lawsuit. This too can take time.