When we experience health issues, most of us trust that our medical providers will help us to recover, or at least that they will treat us competently and not make the situation worse. Unfortunately, sometimes medical providers make really bad mistakes or overlook certain factors that they should consider. Studies estimate that approximately 22,000 people die in the U.S. each year because of such errors, while countless more suffer livable but life-altering consequences. If you or a loved one have been harmed by inadequate medical care, you may wonder what remedies could be available to you. Here is some information on Georgia medical malpractice lawsuits for you to consider.
Causes Of Malpractice
Medical mismanagement is one common cause of medical malpractice. For example, perhaps your cardiologist did not adequately monitor your symptoms to realize that your heart condition had significantly worsened, so you ended up needing a risky surgery instead of just an adjustment to your daily medications. Your cardiologist’s negligence could amount to medical malpractice.
Misdiagnoses are another common basis for medical malpractice suits. A misdiagnosis can result in unnecessary procedures and medications and delay the proper treatment for your illness, all of which could potentially further harm your health.
Claims based on surgical errors are also common. These are sometimes the most straightforward of medical malpractice cases. Negligence, at minimum, exists if your surgeon removes the wrong organ or amputates the wrong limb!
Filing A Medical Malpractice Case
Statute Of Limitations
As with almost any legal claim, there is a deadline by which you must file a medical malpractice lawsuit following the injury. This is known as the statute of limitations. In Georgia, you generally have two years from the date of the negligent act to file a claim against the medical provider or hospital. However, determining when this two-year time period begins to run can be tricky.
If it took you a while to become aware of the negligence, you may have a longer amount of time to file the lawsuit. For example, if your medical provider misdiagnosed you and prescribed medication to treat an illness that you did not have, it could take years to realize that your condition was worsening and that the diagnosis was incorrect.
Georgia’s “statute of repose” recognizes that some errors are not immediately apparent. This law extends the filing deadline for people who do not discover the malpractice until it is too late to file within the two-year statute of limitations. In this situation, you could have five years from the date of the negligent act to file the claim.
Affidavit Of Expert
To file a medical malpractice claim, Georgia law requires you to file an Affidavit of Expert with your complaint. To fulfill this requirement, a medical expert must sign a statement that explains that, in their expert opinion, your medical provider caused harm to you that was preventable. Georgia has this requirement in place to prevent people from filing frivolous claims with no reasonable medical basis.
In order to have a viable medical malpractice claim, you must be able to prove:
1. There was a doctor-patient relationship.
For a medical provider to owe you a legal duty of care and have legal responsibility for your injuries, you must have had a doctor-patient relationship with them. If the medical practitioner provided treatment to you in a formal setting such as a clinic or hospital, this likely will be easy to establish.
2. The medical practitioner breached their duty of care.
Negligence can be difficult to identify and prove if you are not in the medical field. This is where the medical expert can come in. A medical expert will be able to evaluate and describe in detail how the practitioner was negligent. To do this, the expert may discuss how the medical provider failed to exercise the same level of care that other providers in the field would exercise. As an example, if the average cardiologist would have properly identified and treated your heart condition, your cardiologist may have been negligent for failing to do so.
3. The breach caused you harm.
You must show that the harm would not have occurred if the medical practitioner had not been negligent.
4. You suffered actual damages as a result.
For there to be a case, you had to have suffered some actual damages. You cannot sue your doctor for medical malpractice just because you realized that they prescribed you the wrong medication. That wrong medication—or perhaps the lack of the right one—must have caused some harm to you for you to have a claim. Actual damages could include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawyers
If you are like most, then you think that bringing a lawsuit against your physician or their medical practice is daunting and overwhelming. This is why you should consult with an experienced Georgia medical malpractice attorney who can provide you with solid guidance and direction. Critically, a Georgia malpractice attorney will help you understand your legal rights and options, and pursue all remedies against those who harmed you. The skilled medical malpractice lawyers at Dozier Law are committed to protecting the rights and interests of injury victims. We know the complex nature of these claims and will work hard to help ensure that you obtain maximum compensation and justice in your case. To find out more about having the Dozier Law team handle your Georgia medical malpractice case, call (888) 239-2129 or contact us online for a free consultation.