When we go to medical professionals for help, we assume everything they do is in our best interest. Unfortunately, doctors and nurses make mistakes, sometimes resulting from inexcusable negligence.
Doctors and other medical professionals are not perfect, and mistakes sometimes happen in the course of treatment. When these mistakes occur because the doctor’s actions fall below the standard of care, they can be held liable for medical malpractice. When filing your lawsuit, we have to abide by several important rules, including the requirement of an affidavit of a medical expert. We also need to gather evidence about your injuries and the events that led to them. It is important to file your case as soon as possible once you discover your injuries. This issue becomes complicated when patients do not discover their injuries until some time after the negligence occurred.
If you received medical treatment that you believe fell below the standard of care required of your doctor, our Alpharetta medical malpractice attorneys can help you get compensation for your painful injuries. For a free case review, call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.
How Medical Malpractice is Defined in Alpharetta
When doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals administer treatment, they do so according to the relevant standards of care. A full recovery is not always possible in all cases, and being left permanently injured after treatment is not necessarily considered medical malpractice as long as that treatment meets the standards of care required in your case.
The problem of malpractice arises when treatment falls below these standards of care. Injuries sustained because doctors, nurses, or other hospital staff members were negligent and did not meet standards of care may be considered medical malpractice. When this happens, our Alpharetta medical malpractice lawyers can help you file a lawsuit against the doctor and hospital responsible for your injuries.
Identifying medical malpractice can be challenging as it often looks different in every case. Different medical conditions require different treatments, and somewhat different standards of care might be at play. One example of malpractice would be if a surgeon left surgical equipment inside a patient’s body after completing the surgery. The left-behind equipment might cause severe pain or lead to other life-threatening conditions.
Special Legal Requirements in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Alpharetta
There are a few legal requirements that we must keep in mind when beginning a medical malpractice lawsuit. These rules are unique to medical malpractice cases and must be followed if your case is to be successful. First, we must submit an affidavit of a medical expert when we file your lawsuit. We also must keep damages caps in mind when filing your claims and negotiating settlements.
Affidavit of an Expert
According to Georgia Code § 9-11-9.1(a), when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, we must also submit an expert’s affidavit. This affidavit must come from an expert in the medical field and set forth at least one act of negligence committed by your doctor and a factual basis to back up that assertion. Our Alpharetta medical malpractice lawyers can help you find a medical expert to review your case and submit an affidavit.
The medical field is complex and usually beyond the understanding of ordinary people, including legal professionals. The court relies on a medical expert to certify that your case does indeed involve an instance of malpractice. To get this affidavit, another doctor, preferably one in the same field of medicine as the defendant, can examine you and review your medical records to identify instances of malpractice.
We must also consider damages caps. Medical malpractice cases are often worth quite a bit of money, as they involve costly medical bills and often very high damages for pain and suffering. According to Georgia Code § 51-13-1, non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering) are limited to no more than $350,000 when suing one or more health care providers (i.e., a person, medical practice, or partnership). When suing one or more medical facilities (i.e., a hospital or other institution), you can recover no more than $350,000 in non-economic damages from any one facility and no more than $700,000 in total.
To make the issue more complicated, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the above statute is unconstitutional. Some legal experts argue that there is no cap on medical malpractice damages. Other experts are less sure about the enforceability of the statute. Regardless, our Alpharetta medical malpractice attorneys will fight for the maximum compensation possible for your case.
When to File a Medical Malpractice Case in Alpharetta
One of the most complicated questions to answer in a medical malpractice lawsuit is when you should file. Ideally, you should file your case as soon as you can. Unfortunately, this is not always possible for every injured plaintiff. Many people do not realize they have been injured until some time after their medical treatment is completed. In other cases, the plaintiff might be too young to file a lawsuit on their own.
Whenever you decide to file, it must be before the statute of limitations expires. This statute imposes a filing deadline for medical malpractice cases. Once this deadline passes, you might lose your right to file. The ordinary statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases in Georgia can be found under Georgia Code § 9-3-71(a) and provides a 2-year deadline. If you did not notice the malpractice until later, you have no more than 5 years to file your case.
In cases where a foreign object is left inside the plaintiff’s body by negligent doctors, a different statute of limitations applies. Under Georgia Code § 9-3-72, such a case must be brought within 1 year of the foreign object being discovered. It should be noted that this statute runs from the date of discovery, not the date the foreign object was left behind.
According to Georgia Code §§ 9-3-73(b)-(c), another statute of limitation applies to children in medical malpractice cases. Children younger than 5 when the negligence occurred have until 2 years after their 5th birthday to bring a medical malpractice action. Children older than 5 when the negligence occurred follow the normal 2-year medical malpractice deadline.
Call Our Alpharetta Medical Malpractice Attorneys for Help Today
If you were injured by your doctor’s negligent medical care, our Alpharetta medical malpractice attorneys can help you sue for your damages and injuries. For a free case evaluation, call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.