Medical Malpractice FAQ

It’s estimated that one out of every three healthcare providers will be sued for malpractice at some point in time during their careers. Medical errors are believed to cause between 250,000 and 440,000 fatalities a year across the United States.

If you’re one of the unlucky ones who has been the victim of a medical mistake, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options. After all, a healthcare provider might be legally responsible for your resulting injury or a family member’s wrongful death.

Understandably, you probably have a lot of questions about your rights and the process of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Atlanta, GA. The Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers at Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers have the answers you need.

Why Should I Hire an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorney?

Why Should I Hire an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorney?

Medical malpractice cases are notoriously difficult. This is due, in part, to the fact that Georgia’s medical malpractice laws tend to benefit practitioners and hospitals more than injured patients. You’ll face an uphill path to recovery, especially as you’re facing off against a trusted medical professional, a powerful hospital, and an aggressive insurance company.

You can set the stage for a fair fight and successful result by hiring an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer to represent you.

Your attorney can:

  • Launch a prompt investigation into your medical malpractice case
  • Gather evidence needed to support a successful legal claim
  • Prepare a pre-suit affidavit to provide a foundation for your claim
  • Consult expert medical professionals and specialists 
  • Represent you during all negotiations and court hearings
  • Aggressively pursue a maximum settlement from the hospital and its insurance company
  • Advocate for your best interests at trial, if necessary.

Your choice of attorney matters, which is why Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers should be your first call for help with your medical malpractice lawsuit in Atlanta, GA. 

As leaders in medical malpractice litigation with over 50 years of combined experience, we’ve helped our clients win hundreds of millions in settlements and jury awards. Our top results and commitment to our clients have earned us some of the top honors in the legal industry, including Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers.

We have the experience and resources to help you take on an intimidating medical malpractice lawsuit and secure financial accountability. Trust us to make an impact and difference in your life. Call our law office in Atlanta, Georgia to set up a time for a free consultation today.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Malpractice refers to improper, illegal, or negligent professional conduct. Medical malpractice refers to misconduct by a medical professional. 

Common examples of medical malpractice include:

In the state of Georgia, medical professionals are held to high standards. After all, they undergo extensive education and training and are trusted with the health and lives of their patients. When a doctor or another type of healthcare provider commits malpractice, they can be held financially responsible for resulting damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

What Do I Have to Prove to Win a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Georgia?

At its core, medical malpractice is a matter of negligence. Negligence refers to a party’s failure to exercise reasonable care, which, in turn, causes another party’s injury or wrongful death.

As the plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Georgia, you’ll have the burden of proving:

  • Your healthcare provider owed you a duty of care (because a doctor-patient relationship existed, for example)
  • The healthcare provider breached this duty by failing to meet the accepted standards within the medical community
  • The healthcare provider’s conduct was the actual and proximate cause of your injury or family member’s wrongful death, and
  • You’ve suffered damages.

Georgia law requires you to prove your medical malpractice case by a preponderance of the evidence. A jury or factfinder must find that your allegations are more likely true than not. 

You’ll need evidence to back your claim, including medical records and charts, provider notes, internal staff communications, hospital hiring and staffing policies, provider records, witness statements, and video footage.

What’s the Standard of Care in Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

In most negligence cases, the duty of care expected in a situation is based on the actions of a reasonable person. 

In medical malpractice cases, a different standard is applied. Under Georgia law, medical professionals must exercise a reasonable degree of care and skill.

What’s a reasonable degree of care and skill?

This is determined by considering the accepted standards within the medical community and by evaluating what another healthcare provider – of the same specialty and experience – would bring to the table.

What is an Expert Affidavit in Georgia Medical Malpractice Cases?

If you file a medical malpractice lawsuit in the state of Georgia, you’ll be required to submit an expert affidavit. Known as an “affidavit to accompany the charge of professional malpractice,” this helps to demonstrate the legitimacy of medical malpractice actions.

Under OCGA § 9-11-9.1(a), the affidavit must be from an “expert competent to testify” and describe at least one negligent act or omission and the factual basis for the claim.

In other words, a doctor of a similar specialty and experience as the defendant must review the facts of your case and provide specific examples of how your healthcare provider failed to provide care that met accepted standards.

Without this affidavit, your medical malpractice case cannot succeed.

Doctors and healthcare providers can be sued for malpractice if they treat patients without informed consent

Informed consent refers to a patient’s approval of treatment after being told all of the potential risks and benefits. 

If a patient is not fully aware of the potential dangers of medical treatment or procedures, they lack the ability to consent. 

Note that there are situations – typically emergencies – where a physician can reserve the right to treat a patient without consent. However, whenever possible, a provider must do their best to inform patients of risks and obtain permission prior to treatment.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

In Georgia, the statute of limitations for most medical malpractice lawsuits is two years. This two-year deadline typically begins to run on the date a medical mistake is made.

However, there are some exceptions. The state’s discovery rule allows the statute of limitations to be tolled (paused) if a medical mistake causes a “new injury” down the line. 

For instance, if your doctor missed a cancer diagnosis, further development of the cancer could be considered a “new” injury. In turn, the statute of limitations on your medical malpractice case wouldn’t begin to run until that new injury occurred.

This helps to ensure that healthcare providers are held accountable for their mistakes, even if they’re not discovered immediately.

Does Georgia Have a Statute of Repose on Medical Malpractice Claims?

Yes. Georgia has a five-year statute of repose that applies to medical malpractice litigation. As a result, you will have a maximum of five years from the date a medical error is made to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, regardless of when an injury is discovered.

What Damages Can Be Recovered If I’ve Been the Victim of a Medical Error in Georgia?

Like other types of personal injury cases, you can request economic and non-economic damages when you file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Economic damages are awarded to make up for the verifiable current and future expenses related to your case, including:

  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • Medical devices and equipment
  • Prescription medication
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Nursing care
  • Lost wages and earnings
  • Disability
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Funeral expenses

Non-economic damages are awarded to offset the consequences of medical mistakes that don’t have a standard cost or value.

These can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Chronic physical pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Embarrassment
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

In some cases, punitive damages can also be applicable in Georgia medical malpractice lawsuits. A jury must find by clear and convincing evidence that a doctor’s actions were intentionally harmful, grossly negligent, or fraudulent.

Are There Caps on Damages in Georgia Medical Malpractice Cases?

Georgia does have a law on the books that limits the non-economic damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases.

However, Georgia’s cap on damages was declared unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2010. The Court in Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery, P.C. v. Nestlehutt et al. held that the cap violated a plaintiff’s “constitutional right to trial by jury” and overturned the law.

Contact Our Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers for a Free Consultation If You Need Help

If you’ve suffered injuries due to a medical provider’s negligence, we can help. Call our law firm today at (770) 390-7550 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer. We’ll discuss what happened and explain the best path forward for obtaining the compensation you deserve under Georgia law.