Medical malpractice is a disturbing topic for many people. We don’t like to be reminded that doctors are human and make mistakes. Fortunately, the medical standard of care is very high. If a doctor or hospital harms you by failing to meet those standards, you can take legal action against them. 

Here are the facts you need to prove to win a medical malpractice case:

  • The existence of a doctor-patient relationship: A casual conversation with a doctor at a nightclub won’t do. On the other hand, a formal written treatment agreement certainly will be enough to prove this element.
  • A defined duty of care: The important word here is “defined.” Exactly what were the demands of the defendant’s duty? Professionals such as doctors must comply with strict and demanding duties of care. 
  • Breach of the duty of care: Whatever the demands of the defendant’s duty of care, they must have failed to meet them. Breach of an applicable duty of care constitutes medical negligence.
  • Causation: The defendant’s breach of their duty of care must have caused whatever harm you suffered. 
  • Damages: You must have suffered some type of harm, such as the worsening of an illness. You might qualify to recover compensation for both tangible harm (economic damages) and intangible harm (non-economic damages).

You must prove all of these elements to win. Failing to prove even one of them will be detrimental to your medical malpractice claim.

The Standard of Care: Medical Definition

In the case of a doctor, Georgia law defines the standard of care as whatever a “reasonable doctor” would do. What would a competent doctor do under the circumstances surrounding the claim, assuming that this hypothetical doctor had similar training and qualifications as the defendant and practiced in the same field of medicine and geographic location? The answer to that question defines the applicable standard of care. 

That means that the circumstances of the case do not completely define the standard of care. The standard of care that applies to an Atlanta cardiologist will probably differ from the standard of care that applies to a Valdosta general practitioner.

How to Prove the Medical Standard of Care

Below is a description of some common methods for proving a medical malpractice standard of care:

  • Expert testimony and affidavits
  • State-of-the-art medical literature and guidelines 
  • Similar medical malpractice cases
  • Guidelines published by the hospital for which the defendant doctor works; these guidelines are even more persuasive if the hospital itself is a defendant.

Some medical malpractice claims are more or less decided once you determine the applicable standard of care. In other cases, determining the standard of care is only the beginning.

Settlement vs. Trial in a Georgia Medical Malpractice Case

Most medical malpractice claims end in settlement, not trial. At the settlement table, however, the parties bargain based on what they think a court would do if the case were to go to trial. 

It is common for a medical malpractice claimant to file a lawsuit when negotiations stall. 

It can make sense to file a lawsuit even if you still hope to settle out of court for the following reasons:

  • It tends to grab the attention of a stubborn opposing party (usually a medical malpractice insurance company).
  • It beats the statute of limitations deadline, no matter how long it eventually takes to resolve your claim. In Georgia, the statute of limitations is typically two years from the date of the malpractice.
  • It gives both sides access to the powerful pretrial discovery evidence-gathering process.

Even after you file a lawsuit, you can always agree to withdraw it in exchange for a reasonable settlement. If you do settle, you will need to draft and sign a formal settlement agreement, which becomes an enforceable contract. A lawyer can help you with this. 

Contact the Atlanta Medical Malpractice Law Firm of Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers for Help Today With Your Claim

You should hire an experienced lawyer to help you navigate a Georgia medical malpractice case. You’re going to need someone with extensive skills and long working relationships with quality expert witnesses. Many Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys offer free case consultations, so reach out today to discuss your legal options.

If you or a close one have suffered from medical malpractice in Atlanta, GA, please call Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers at (770) 390-7550 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation today.

Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers
2 Ravinia Dr NE Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30346