Medical malpractice injuries can be significant and life-altering. We would all like to believe that such mistakes are rare, but the data says otherwise. A recent study conducted by experts at Johns Hopkins revealed that medical errors are the number three cause of death in the United States. Also, according to the National Practitioner Data Bank, the state of Georgia registered over 10,000 medical malpractice payment reports between 1990 and 2022, with an average of 300 reports per year.
Unfortunately, the numbers of malpractice are likely higher than that. Many cases of medical malpractice in Georgia and all over the United States remain unreported. This is due to insufficient evidence or a lack of awareness on the part of the victims. Moreso, in many instances, when the patient dies, the case of malpractice goes unnoticed as it is assumed that the death was a result of the patient’s condition, disease, or injuries.
When a medical professional entrusted with your care has negligently caused you an injury or a loved one has died due to medical negligence or error, you are legally entitled to compensation. Regrettably, Georgia law doesn’t make it easy to obtain that compensation. That’s why it’s in your best interests to work with experienced Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers like Lloyd and Alex Hoffspiegel.
What Defines Medical Malpractice in Georgia?
Medical malpractice, also referred to as medical negligence, encompasses a broad range of legal circumstances. In essence, the term refers to instances where a healthcare provider causes an injury or death to a patient due to error, negligent action, or failure to take action.
For a clearer understanding of the matter, let’s have a look at how Georgia law defines it. According to Georgia code O.C.G.A § 9-3-70, medical malpractice is “damage(s) resulting from the death or injury of any person arising from health, medical, dental, or surgical service, diagnosis, prescription, treatment, or care…”, damage(s) typically caused by a healthcare professional.
Of course, the applications of the term are pretty vast. That’s why even if you think that you or a loved one was a victim of medical malpractice, it is critical to talk to an experienced lawyer. At Hoffspiegel Law, our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys have dealt with a multitude of malpractice cases over the past decades. We are fully prepared and equipped to take your case to trial, and will never settle unless we truly believe it is in your best interest.
What Sets Grounds For Medical Malpractice Claims in Atlanta Georgia?
Medical malpractice typically encompasses situations where a physician, surgeon, or other healthcare professional has acted negligently or committed an error in the treatment, diagnosis, or guidance of a patient. These being said, the most common circumstances that set grounds for a medical malpractice claim in Atlanta, Georgia, are the following:
A pretty clear case scenario that sets grounds for a medical malpractice claim is when a person suffers from a disease, but the medical staff failed to diagnose that disease, or even worse, their diagnosis was completely erroneous, indicating a totally different disease. Failure to order the required diagnostic testing, failure to recognize symptoms and conditions in a timely manner, or improper review of lab results also fall under this category.
When a patient was correctly diagnosed with a disease or condition, and their healthcare professional prescribes the wrong drugs or treatment plan, there may be an opportunity to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against that professional, or against their hospital or healthcare facility. Dosage prescription errors can lead to serious side effects or even the wrongful death of the patient can also set grounds for a medical malpractice suit. If a patient undergoes a type of invasive surgery or procedure at a physician’s recommendation, and it is later discovered that it couldn’t bring any positive changes, or even worsened their state, can also be considered medical malpractice.
Medical Procedure Errors
Thousands of medical conditions call for thousands of medical procedures. If a surgeon, dentist, or other medical professional fails to perform a certain procedure on a patient for a correctly diagnosed condition, causing harm or even the wrongful death of the patient, the person in cause or their relatives have fairly solid grounds for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Here are a few examples of medical procedure errors:
- Dentist’s hand slips and they cut a section of their patient’s tongue
- Medical staff leave tools or surgical tampons inside a patient causing unnecessary complications or even the wrongful death of the patient
- Surgery is conducted on the wrong organ or body section of the patient
- Abdominal liposuction done wrong, resulting in bowel perforation
Patient neglect occurs when a caregiver refuses or forgets to provide the required goods and services necessary to avoid the physical harm or mental anguish of a patient. For example, if a physician forgets to check the machines that monitor the well-being of a patient and this leads to the aggravation of their condition. Or, a patient’s appendectomy was scheduled too late and the patient died, even though there was plenty of time to carry out the procedure. Situations such as these set fairly solid grounds for medical malpractice lawsuits.
Aftercare is often necessary and even mandatory for the full recovery of a patient or for the proper management of their condition. It can be considered medical negligence or malpractice when a medical professional fails to prescribe the correct therapy or health management after a surgical procedure, or treatment of a disease. For example, a person suffers a heart attack, is admitted to the hospital, has an arterial stent implanted, they recover, and they are discharged. Subsequent care is necessary for the patient to make a full recovery, such as regular blood tests, blood pressure medication, diet, special physical therapy, etc. Failure to provide this care to the patient, or leaving them at their own devices can cause harm and even lead to their death.
Obstacles to Medical Malpractice Recovery
A medical malpractice case can be difficult, time-consuming, and costly. When our Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers review your case, our first step will always be to thoroughly assess your claim. We won’t move forward unless our research and experience tells us that we are likely to be able to provide the help you need. When we do move forward, it is with a solid foundation built on our investigation and analysis of your claim.
Cost Barriers to Medical Malpractice Claims
Bringing a medical malpractice claim is expensive, due in large part to the need for expert testimony and the amount of preparation required to build a winning malpractice case. We never want costs to prevent an injured person from pursuing a claim. When our law firm represents a client in a medical malpractice case, our fees are 100% contingency. That means we don’t get paid unless we successfully settle your case or win at trial. And, we cover all of the costs of litigation, such as paying expert witnesses, until your case is successfully resolved.
Medical Malpractice Time Limits
Every civil claim is subject to a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations creates a deadline for filing a lawsuit. While most statutes of limitations are straightforward, medical malpractice time limits can be extremely difficult for a layperson to understand.
The general limitation gives the injured party two years from the date the injury arose to file suit, but then imposes a hard limit of five years from the date of the act or omission, even if the injury hasn’t yet been discovered. In addition, there are separate and even more complex rules when the injured party is a child or is legally incompetent due to a mental disability.
Contacting a medical malpractice attorney as soon as you become aware that there may have been a problem with your treatment will help ensure that you don’t miss important deadlines and lose your right to recover for your injuries.
Expert Affidavits in Medical Malpractice Cases
Filing medical malpractice cases requires the submission of expert affidavits setting forth the basis for negligence claims. Obtaining such an affidavit directly can be difficult, both because physicians are often reluctant to go on the record against another member of the profession and because most people seeking to file malpractice claims do not have the technical legal and medical knowledge required to secure an effective affidavit.
At Hoffspiegel Law, we have the experience and access to experts necessary to fulfill this requirement and keep your medical malpractice case moving forward.
Liability Caps in Georgia Medical Malpractice Cases
In many states, the insurance lobby has been successful in limiting the recovery of people catastrophically injured by a medical professional’s carelessness. A cap was imposed in Georgia, but through the hard work of Georgia trial lawyers, the limit was declared unconstitutional and victims of medical malpractice in Georgia are once again able to seek full compensation from a jury.
What Should You Do if You Believe You Are a Medical Malpractice Victim in Atlanta Georgia?
Medical malpractice, unfortunately, happens far too often in Atlanta, Georgia, and in most instances, a patient’s injuries and a healthcare professional’s responsibility remain unaddressed. Unlike other types of negligence, medical malpractice is difficult to prove as it often requires at least basic medical knowledge. Plus, both medical professionals and medical facility management will never immediately admit malpractice.
So, what can medical malpractice victims or their loved ones do to prove negligence and seek compensation? Here are a few important steps to take:
- Request copies of all pertinent medical records – These are vital documents and will be used by your medical malpractice lawyer to build your case.
- Document your injuries – When applicable, it is a good idea to take photos of your injuries, as detailed as possible and as many as possible.
- Make a report or timeline of your experience – Include as much information as possible about your injuries and about the suspected malpractice, and about the information that medical staff gave you about your condition. Write down the order of the events that took place, the names of the medical staff you came in contact with, as well as the family members who have helped you with any chores that you couldn’t perform due to your injuries.
- Contact an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer.
Talk to an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorney as Soon as Possible
Lloyd and Alex Hoffspiegel are experienced medical malpractice attorneys that are prepared to help you secure the recovery you deserve by:
- Attending to complex procedural requirements and ensuring that deadlines are met
- Assembling medical records and other evidence
- Interviewing and preparing both expert and lay witnesses
- Securing the medical and economic experts you need to support your claim
- Proving both economic and non-economic damages
- Assessing the opposition’s case
- Negotiating with opposing counsel
- Where it’s in your best interests, fighting for you at trial
Many personal injury and medical malpractice law firms prefer to settle cases. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs who work with those firms, defense attorneys know who is and is not likely to take a case to trial and settlements can suffer if the pressure is off. We are ready and willing to try any case if we believe it’s in the client’s best interests, and our reputation precedes us.
If you’ve been harmed or lost a loved one to medical malpractice, take the first step toward getting the help you need. Just call Hoffspiegel Law at (404) 760-8600 or click the Contact Us button below.
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