In Georgia, a medical doctor 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. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong. Several studies have shown that 70 to 80 percent of medical malpractice jury trials result in a defense verdict. Medical malpractice cases may be the toughest of any “type” of injury case to win. There are two reasons for this: (1) Lobbying groups for medical malpractice insurance companies convinced the Georgia legislature to pass laws that discourage medical malpractice claims and (2) Most people do not want to believe that doctors make mistakes.
The truth is that most medical professionals are very skilled and care deeply about their patients. However, no one is perfect and mistakes do happen. These mistakes do not always amount to “malpractice.”
In order for a doctor to be liable for malpractice, he or she must breach the “standard of care.” This means that doctors must exercise such reasonable care and skill for their patients as is ordinarily employed in the medical profession under similar conditions and circumstances. In cases arising in Georgia emergency departments, Plaintiffs must prove gross negligence by clear and convincing evidence.
How do inured patients prove their doctor breached the standard of care and committed malpractice? In Georgia, this is done with expert testimony. Malpractice cases usually require expert testimony from someone in the same profession as the negligent doctor setting forth the applicable standard of care and how it was breached. Georgia law requires that the expert be someone who regularly engaged in the practice or teaching three of the past five years in the same area or practice or specialty. In most cases, the Plaintiff must include an affidavit from the expert when filing the lawsuit.
Medical Malpractice cases can arise from the negligence of doctors in many areas. Some examples include:
Foreign Objects left in Body
Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer or Infections
Nursing Home Negligence
Obstetrical Errors/Birth Injuries
Battery (Intentional Acts or Unauthorized Treatment)
Failure to Report Child Abuse
In most Georgia cases, if you have been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, you must bring a lawsuit within two years from the date the malpractice occurred. The two year limitation does not apply when a physician leaves a foreign object in a patient’s body. In those cases, you must bring the lawsuit within one year of the discovery of the wrongful act.
If you have been injured by the negligence of a doctor or medical professional, it is extremely important to find a lawyer as soon as possible. It will take many months to gather all the needed medical records and locate a medical expert that can evaluate your case. Attorney Bernadine Layne offers free consultations in medical malpractice claims. Call today to discuss your case.