Medical Malpractice Causes and Facts

According to recent estimates, each year, approximately 22,000 people in the U.S. die because of medical providers’ errors or oversights. While terminally ill individuals account for the majority of these preventable deaths, an estimated 7,150 previously healthy individuals die in the U.S. each year because of medical negligence. That number is still far too high. 

Some common causes of medical malpractice include:

  • Poor management and monitoring of medical conditions
  • Erroneous diagnoses
  • Surgical errors

In many other cases, patients suffer harm because of medical errors but survive those injuries. The complications can be severe and debilitating, and additional medical procedures such as surgeries, medication, or rehabilitative care could be necessary to overcome or deal with the results of the medical negligence.

Regardless of whether the result is death or harm, these events can cause severe emotional, physical, and financial hardship for the victims and their families. If you believe that you suffered harm because of a medical provider’s errors, you should consult with an experienced attorney that handles medical malpractice cases in Athens.

Requirements for Filing a Medical Malpractice Case

Affidavit Of Expert

One requirement that you must meet if you are going to file a medical malpractice case in Athens, Georgia, is to obtain the affidavit of an expert. This affidavit is a statement written by a medical expert saying that, in their expert opinion, the defendant—your negligent medical provider—acted unreasonably and caused your harm.  The medical expert must sign the affidavit to swear that the statement is their honest, expert opinion.

This requirement is in place to prevent individuals from filing claims when they do not have a reasonable basis. If you do not file an affidavit of expert with your medical malpractice lawsuit, the court may dismiss your case. However, the judge might give you the opportunity to refile your claim once you have an affidavit to submit with it.

Statute Of Limitations

Medical malpractice suits must be filed within the two-year statute of limitations. The statute of limitations in a medical malpractice case can be slightly complicated. Sometimes, individuals who suffered injuries because of their doctor’s wrongful actions may not be aware of those injuries until long after the doctor or other medical practitioner committed the act of negligence.

For instance, imagine that your doctor diagnoses you with asthma, and you receive treatment for asthma for a year. After taking the medication as prescribed, your condition fails to improve. When you consult with another doctor, that doctor runs tests and determines that the asthma diagnosis was not correct and that you actually have emphysema. In this case, your doctor made a mistake one year ago, but you did not discover that mistake until much later. Because of this, not only were you unable to treat your potentially deadly emphysema for one year, which may have caused you further harm, but you also were taking medication that could have produced side effects and harmed you because it was not the medicine you needed.

The statute of limitations, in this case, might not begin on the date that the first doctor misdiagnosed you. Instead, Georgia’s law may allow you additional time to file. In a medical malpractice case in which you do not discover the harm until it is too late to meet the two-year statute of limitations, you may have five years from the date of the negligent or wrongful act to file your claim. This law, called a “statute of repose,” exists precisely because a medical error may not present itself immediately after the doctor makes a mistake.

Proving Negligence in a Medical Malpractice Case

Doctor-Patient Relationship And Duty Of Care

Suppose you wish to bring a case for medical malpractice against a physician or other practitioner. The first thing you will have to prove is that you had a doctor-patient relationship with that physician. If the doctor is someone who is treating you in a formal setting, then the doctor-patient relationship is likely established, and that medical practitioner owed you a duty of care, meaning they were obligated to use reasonable care when treating you. It is important to realize that, if you took casual advice from someone in a non-medical context, such as from a friend or acquaintance who happened to be a doctor, you probably do not have a doctor-patient relationship and that person likely did not owe you a duty of care.


Next, you have to show that the doctor was negligent. Proving negligence in a medical malpractice case can be tricky, as you might not fully understand the technical, medical issues that led to your injury. These cases will often heavily rely on an expert witness who can evaluate your doctor’s actions and provide information regarding how your doctor committed negligence.

Sometimes, a doctor may make a mistake because the medical issue was complicated and not well understood by many doctors in their field of medicine. In this case, your expert witness may need to show that your doctor failed to provide the level of care that other doctors in their field would offer. It is possible that your doctor might not be liable for this mistake if the court determines that other doctors exercising reasonable care may have also made that mistake. For instance, if the doctor who caused your injury is a cardiologist, the expert will compare their level of care to the care that other cardiologists would have applied. If you have a rare heart condition that most cardiologists are not familiar with treating, the court may decide your doctor’s mistake was reasonable and not negligent.

Causation And Actual Damages

Finally, you will need to show that the negligent action caused your injuries and that you sustained actual damages. Actual damages in a medical malpractice case might include:

  • Mental anguish
  • Physical pain
  • Medical bills for fixing or treating complications from the malpractice
  • Lost wages if you missed work because of the harm
  • Lost earning capacity if your ability to do your job in the future is impacted

These claims can be technical, so it is wise to discuss your injuries with an attorney that has experience in medical malpractice claims.

Currently, Georgia does not have a limit on the amount of damages you can get. However, previously, Georgia had a damages cap on non-economic damages, which are damages that do not have a set monetary value, Courts deemed that cap unconstitutional. Therefore, it’s possible that you could come across references to Georgia’s cap on damages, but it is unlikely that a court would uphold any such limitations. Your damages will likely relate to the severity of your injuries and how those injuries impact your life. Speak to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer that handles Athens caes to discuss damages as they relate to the specific facts of your claim.

Williams Elleby Howard & Easter – Athens Medical Malpractice Attorneys

If you have been injured in Athens, Georgia due to a doctor’s mistakes, then you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney. Critically, a medical malpractice attorney can carefully explain your legal options. They can give you the peace of mind in knowing that someone is fighting on your behalf to get you paid for the harm that your doctor has caused you. At Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, our attorneys have extensive experience helping victims recover the compensation they deserve in personal injury cases including medical malpractice. Call (833)-534-2542 or contact us online for a free consultation.