If you believe that you have a medical malpractice case in the state of Georgia, it is important to know the state laws that can impact your claim such as the statute of limitations. It is also helpful to know what documents must be filed and their deadlines.
Due to the complexity of malpractice cases, it is best to employ the help of a medical malpractice lawyer to assist in filing a claim.
Georgia’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations refers to the law that sets a limit on the amount of time that a person can bring a case to court. There are different deadlines depending on what type of case is filed.
It is important to know the time limits when deciding to file a medical malpractice case. For instance, the law states that a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of injury or death that was a clear result of a negligent or wrongful act.
The statute of repose limits your ability to sue. In Georgia, there is a five-year filing deadline for situations where the medical provider’s error was not discovered immediately. This means that regardless of when you discovered that malpractice was in play if it has been brought more than five years after the negligent act then you will not be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
This is called tolling the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Georgia. It simply means that enough time has passed since the negligent event that it legally suspends any form of a lawsuit that could be pursued.
There is one exception to the five-year statute of limitation. If a “foreign object” has been left inside of a patient’s body then the lawsuit must be filed within one year after the discovery of the object. “Foreign object” usually refers to surgical instruments or any materials used during an operation. The law does state that any form of a chemical compound or prosthetic device does not qualify as a foreign object.
One of the most popular cases is LLC v Johnson 286, GA. A married couple filed a medical malpractice case due to personal injury and failure to diagnose properly. The husband had diabetes and went to a podiatrist for treatment. The podiatrist did not prescribe an anti-inflammatory to assist in healing.
Over a few years, the husband’s health deteriorated. Once he passed away, the wife then filed a wrongful death lawsuit on top of the negligent malpractice case that was already in proceedings.
It had been longer than five years since the initial injury occurred and the court attempted to deny the addendum. However, the wife brought it to their attention that only the husband had filed the original medical malpractice case. She was not directly involved in the original lawsuit. Due to this being a new case being presented the five-year policy did not hold up in court and the wife was able to file a wrongful death claim due to medical malpractice.
This is a great example of how medical malpractice laws are complex and experienced attorneys can guide you along the way.
Georgia’s “Expert Affidavit” Requirement for Medical Malpractice
When a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff must also file an expert affidavit by a qualified medical expert. This affidavit states that the medical expert believes that at least one negligent act was committed by the healthcare provider who is being sued.
The state has requirements for who is qualified as a medical expert under Georgia law. To ensure that all requirements are met, it is recommended to work closely with a medical malpractice attorney.
If you file the initial complaint but fail to file an expert affidavit your medical malpractice claim will likely be dismissed. The court may allow you to correct this error by refiling the malpractice claim and an expert affidavit at the same time.
If you have recently hired an attorney but have already filed a lawsuit, you may be able to get a 45-day extension to file the expert affidavit if the statute of limitations deadline is fast approaching.
Georgia’s Medical Malpractice Damages Cap
Many states have implemented damage caps or limits on the amount that a plaintiff can receive from a medical malpractice case. Usually, the cap is placed on noneconomic damages or those that are meant to compensate for pain and suffering.
Georgia has a cap for medical malpractice cases that limits the amount that a plaintiff can receive from noneconomic damages to $350,000 in a single claim against health care providers. There is also a $350,000 cap for claims against a single medical facility. That amount increases to $700,000 if more than one medical facility is responsible for injury or death. Simply put, that means there is a $1.05 million cap on noneconomic damages for any one medical malpractice case.
In 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the cap on noneconomic damages was unconstitutional. Since this ruling, the noneconomic caps have not been enforced. There has not been a cap implemented on economic damages meaning that there is no limit on how much a person can receive for things like medical care or loss of wages.
Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you feel that you, or a loved one, have experienced medical malpractice you must consult an experienced attorney licensed in Georgia with Strickland and Kendall, LLC, to help validate your claim and guide you forward in the process. Reach out to our team for a free legal consultation to discuss your claim 24/7, seven days a week at (800) 874-3528.