Nobody goes to the doctor thinking, “I hope they get this right.” When you visit a medical professional, there is an expectation that your provider will provide the highest level of care. You depend on your doctor’s schooling, training, and experience when you entrust your health in their hands.
But what happens when a health care professional fails to meet your expectations? Do you have grounds to seek damages when your doctor’s actions caused you harm? Consider calling the legal professionals at Brauns Law at (404) 418-8244 to discuss your options and get you the compensation you deserve.
What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice?
As humans, we make mistakes. But when a doctor makes a mistake, it can have life-changing consequences. However, a simple mistake does not constitute medical malpractice. To claim medical malpractice, you must prove that a doctor’s gross negligence and failure to meet the standard of care led to your injuries. For example, if a loved one’s cancer does not respond to an agreed-upon treatment plan, you likely do not have a case for medical malpractice. However, if your loved one died because of a delayed or missed diagnosis, you may be able to prove malpractice.
Common Medical Malpractice Claims
In 2016, the doctors at Johns Hopkins made a frightening claim. According to their numbers, medical malpractice is now the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is estimated that over 250,000 deaths per year could be attributed to medical malpractice.
These numbers are alarming and prove that medical malpractice occurs more often than we’d like to think. While most people think of malpractice as surgical errors or doctor incompetence, it’s not always so straightforward. Examples of possible medical malpractice include:
- Missed diagnosis
- Delayed diagnosis
- Foreign object left in a body cavity
- Unnecessary surgery
- Improper medication or dosage
- Failure to order testing or recognize symptoms
- Misreading or disregarding test results (including lab tests and medical imaging)
Is There a Time Limit on Filing a Medical Malpractice Suit?
Many legal matters are subject to a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations outlines the maximum amount of time an aggrieved party has to claim damages against a party. State code section 9-3-71 outlines the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. Specifically, the code states that all claims of malpractice must be filed within two years of the date of injury or death in said case. However, if the onset of the injuries is delayed beyond two years, the victim has up to five years to file suit. One further exception applies to the law: If a foreign object has been left inside a patient’s body, the patient has one year from the date of discovery to file suit.
How Do I Prove Malpractice?
The burden of proof lies with the plaintiff when it comes to a medical malpractice claim. Not only do you need to prove that your provider failed to meet the standard of care, but you also need to prove that this failure led to direct and compensable injuries.
In Georgia, the courts require plaintiffs to provide an affidavit from a licensed medical professional asserting that the defendant’s actions led to the plaintiff’s injuries. You will almost certainly be required to provide all relevant medical records at some point during the case. If your case goes to trial, the jury may also consider the doctor’s records, any past insurance claims, and statements from staff members present at the time of the alleged injury.
What Should I Expect During My Medical Malpractice Case?
Proving a medical malpractice case is rarely easy. When you make a claim against a doctor, you are questioning their ability to perform their job and continue to care for patients. Further, you are asking the doctor’s insurance company to compensate you for the doctor’s mistake.
The standard of proof for medical malpractice cases is extremely high. In almost all cases the doctor will have medical malpractice insurance to cover any potential lawsuits. The insurance company will hire a lawyer that works exclusively with medical malpractice cases. You can expect this lawyer to have extensive medical malpractice experience and to fight aggressively to defend their client. This is why it is extremely important that you hire an attorney that specializes in medical malpractice.
Is There a Limit to the Amount of Damages I Can Claim?
In some states, the legislature has put limits on the amount of damages that a plaintiff can be awarded. These limits take precedence over any jury award and represent the maximum non-economic damages a plaintiff can receive from a medical malpractice suit. Georgia previously capped these damages at $350,000. However, in 2010, the Georgia legislature deemed these caps as unconstitutional.
Can I Just Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
While a personal injury lawyer may claim to have the qualifications to pursue your medical malpractice case, our personal experience shows that in most cases, a licensed attorney that has extensive experience with medical malpractice cases is better suited for a medical malpractice suit. We have found that medical malpractice cases are typically more complicated and more time consuming than your typical personal injury case. They require expertise in the field and a thorough understanding of the level of proof required to argue a medical malpractice case. A qualified medical malpractice attorney will typically have strong relationships with members of the medical field which will prove vital in litigating your case.
Experience Matters When It Comes to Medical Malpractice
If you think that you may have a medical malpractice suit, an experienced Atlanta lawyer can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. While malpractice suits can be complex and difficult to prove, an experienced attorney can help you understand the best steps moving forward in your case.
When you suffer a medical injury, you want someone you can trust to fight for your rights. At Brauns Law, we believe in treating our clients the way that we would want to be treated. We will handle your case with the personal attention you expect and maintain open communication throughout your case. Contact our offices at (404) 418-8244 or visit our website to request a free case consultation.