What to Do if You Receive Negligent Healthcare
What should you do if you are injured by a healthcare provider? The short answer is that you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to review your potential case. Medical malpractice claims can be extremely complex, both in terms of legal language and the facts in question. It is crucial that you have experienced legal representation to review and analyze your claim as soon as possible.
However, while you should rely on an attorney to fight for your rights, it is also important to be aware of the rules governing these claims so that you can understand your rights.
Defining Medical Malpractice
The first thing that needs to be determined anytime a person is injured while receiving medical care is whether medical malpractice has occurred. Many people assume that any negligent or intentionally harmful act by a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider will automatically be considered medical malpractice, but this isn’t the case. The distinction is important, because when an act is defined as malpractice, special procedural and evidentiary rules will apply.
Medical malpractice does not include any intentional acts. Medical malpractice only includes acts that violate the professional standard of care during the course of treatment. Therefore, any acts that were intentional or that were not actually committed during the course of treatment would not be considered malpractice. For these cases, the rules of medical malpractice would not apply, and instead a traditional personal injury claim would need to be made.
How Liability Is Determined
If an act was malpractice, liability is determined based on whether the provider breached their professional standard of care. When a healthcare provider breaches this professional standard of care and causes a patient harm as a result, they have committed medical malpractice. Under Georgia law:
“A person professing to practice surgery or the administering of medicine for compensation must bring to the exercise of his profession a reasonable degree of care and skill. Any injury resulting from a want of such care and skill shall be a tort for which a recovery may be had.” O.C.G.A. § 51–1–27. While this standard applies to doctors, a similar standard applies to other healthcare providers, such as nurses, therapists, pharmacists, or chiropractors.
The Affidavit Requirement
In Georgia, plaintiffs that file a medical malpractice case must have an affidavit from a medical expert included with their complaint. This differs from many other states, in which very obvious forms of malpractice do not require expert witness evidence. In many cases, extensive medical evidence and in-court testimony from an expert is also necessary to win a case.
There are three main categories of damages that medical malpractice victims can be awarded in Georgia: Compensatory damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
- There is no cap on compensatory damages, which seek to compensate victims for their additional medical costs and any lost wages associated with their harm.
- There are also no caps on non-economic damages, which compensate victims for their pain and suffering.
- In cases in which harm was caused by the egregious negligence or recklessness of a healthcare provider, punitive damages could also be awarded. Georgia places a $250,000 cap on punitive damages.
Statute of Limitations
Medical malpractice claims must be brought forward within two years of the date when the patient discovered that the defendant caused the injury, or within five years of the date of the act that caused the harm, whichever comes first.
Contact a Georgia Medical Malpractice Attorney for More Information
At the Williams Elleby Firm, we are dedicating to getting victims of medical malpractice the compensation they deserve. Joel understands how to use medical evidence and expert testimony to meet the legal burden in these cases. If you have questions or would like to discuss your case, please call our office today at 833 – LEGALGA for a free consultation.