Did a negligent doctor at Phoebe Memorial Hospital or local physician practice commit medical malpractice and injure you?  If so, you may need a medical malpractice attorney to help recover compensation for the damages you suffered.

Medical negligence is far too common in the United States. Despite all of the advances in the medical field, human error can still cause a patient to suffer harm or even death.

Harm from Medical Errors

In the United States, medical providers’ errors and oversights account for an estimated 22,000 deaths each year. Previously healthy patients account for almost one-third of these deaths. The remainder are terminally ill patients, meaning that they eventually were going to die of a terminal illness but instead died prematurely due to medical malpractice.

Other patients may survive malpractice but still suffer temporary or long-term repercussions. Patients may be required to undergo additional medical procedures to deal with this harm. They may face additional surgeries or rehabilitation or have to take medications that they otherwise would not have needed. For some, the malpractice can produce debilitating, life-long complications requiring ongoing additional care. Whatever the consequence, the errors can be costly—both financially and emotionally—for the victim and their family.

Causes of Medical Malpractice in Albany, Georgia

Surgical errors are one example of medical malpractice and are, perhaps, the cause that receives the most attention. It seems that no medical drama on television can go without this common plotline at some point. However, they are not the only cause. Misdiagnosis is also a common reason for medical malpractice suits. If an illness is incorrectly diagnosed, you could undergo procedures or receive medications that are unnecessary and harmful. It can also delay the proper treatment for your actual condition. Mismanagement of medical conditions is also a common cause.

Medical Expert Opinion

To file a medical malpractice case in Albany, Georgia, you must present the opinion of a medical expert. Georgia requires this of medical malpractice plaintiffs to prevent people from making false claims and using the court’s time and resources on cases that lack merit. The expert may write an affidavit saying that they believe that your medical provider’s actions harmed you in some way. They must sign an oath and swear that the statement reflects their honest opinion as a medical expert.

Steps To Proving Negligence In Your Albany Georgia Medical Malpractice Claim

For most negligence claims, a plaintiff must establish four elements: 1. the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, 2. the defendant breached that duty, 3. the breach caused the plaintiff harm, and 4. the plaintiff suffered actual damages or harm as a result. Medical malpractice cases are no different. You must show the following for your claim to survive in court.

  1. The Medical Professional Owed You A Duty Of Care.

A “duty of care” means that someone is legally obligated to exercise a certain level of care towards a particular person or group of people. In a medical malpractice case, proving that the medical provider owed you a duty of care usually is relatively straightforward. If you have a doctor-patient relationship with the medical provider, the medical practitioner has a duty to treat you as a competent medical provider in their field would. It is important to note that you probably do not have a doctor-patient relationship with a medical provider if they just gave you advice in a casual, nonmedical context. For example, advice from a friend who is a medical professional probably would not be enough to create a duty.

  1. The Medical Provider Breached The Standard of Care.

Proving that the medical provider failed to exercise an appropriate level of care may be difficult, particularly if you are not familiar with medical processes and the technical details of your injury. An expert witness may be helpful to establish this part of your case. They can explain to the court exactly how your medical provider failed to exercise the appropriate level of care.

In malpractice cases, the medical professional must exercise the reasonable care that other providers in their field would offer. For example, if you have a heart attack, an Albany cardiologist may commit malpractice if they fail to identify this. Heart attacks are common and the average cardiologist should be able to identify and diagnose them. If you suffer harm because the undiagnosed heart attack goes untreated, you may have a medical malpractice claim against that provider.

However, failure to diagnose a condition may not always be grounds for a malpractice claim. If you have a rare heart condition that few cardiologists have seen or treated, a court may determine that other cardiologists exercising reasonable care could have made the same mistake. Your medical provider might not be liable for the harm to you in that case.

  1. The Breach Caused You Harm.

An expert’s opinion may also help to establish that the medical provider’s error caused you harm. As with breach, the expert may be able to explain the precise medical details of how your provider’s mistake or oversight injured you.

  1. You Suffered Actual Damages.

To have a claim against your medical provider, their action must have negatively impacted you in some way. You must prove that you suffered actual damages. These may include:

  • Medical bills that you accrued because of the error
  • Lost wages from missing work due to the harm
  • Future lost wages or medical bills, if the harm will require ongoing treatment and work absences
  • Lost earning capacity, if the malpractice impacts your ability to continue in your profession in the future
  • Non-economic damages, such as mental or physical pain and suffering

Georgia law does not impose a limit on the amount of damages you can recover in a medical malpractice case. However, the damages that you can receive depends on the severity of your injuries and their impact on you.

Statute of Limitations in Bringing an Albany Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

In Albany, you generally have two years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against your negligent medical provider.  In some malpractice cases, the timeline is limited to one year.  This deadline is called the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations usually begins to run on the date on which the harmful action occurred. However, in medical malpractice suits, determining the date on which the statute of limitations runs can be complicated.

For one, it may not immediately be obvious that any malpractice occurred because sometimes the harm can take a long time to become apparent. For example, if a medical provider misdiagnoses you, it may take a while before it is detected. You may undergo treatments and receive medication for a condition or illness that you do not have. In that case, you might not realize that the treatments or medications were not appropriate until you notice that your condition is not improving or is getting worse. It could take months, or even years, to realize that the misdiagnosis occurred. In this situation, you will need a medical malpractice lawyer who can help determine the deadline for filing lawsuit.

Georgia law has additional protections for plaintiffs in situations like the above example. A “statute of repose” may allow you extra time to file your medical malpractice claim if the harm was not discovered in time to file by the deadline. Under the statute of repose, you might have five years from the date of harm to file your claim. Consulting with an attorney will be essential to determining whether or not you may still file a claim once the two-year limit has passed.

Albany, Georgia Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or your family member were harmed due to a medical provider’s mistakes in Albany, Georgia, you should consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. The skilled attorneys at Williams Elleby have extensive experience with personal injury and medical malpractice cases. We will carefully evaluate your circumstances and advise you on the best way to proceed. To contact Williams Elleby regarding your medical malpractice case, call (833) 534-2542 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.