If you are sick or have been injured, the first person you trust with your health and recovery is typically your physician. Medical professionals dedicate their lives to helping people. They hold the outcome of a person’s life in their hands every single day, and as such, we expect these people to have the education, skills, and background required to make the best medical decisions possible.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, and negligent errors, mistakes, gross misjudgment, and even reckless behavior can lead to unimaginable consequences for patients. An error made on the part of a medical professional can lead to serious medical complications, disfigurement, and even death. Frightening statistics from a study conducted by Johns Hopkins suggests that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.
What happens when you place your trust in a medical professional only to find yourself now dealing with life-altering, even life-threatening complications? Your original medical complaint hasn’t gone away; it’s only been exacerbated and turned into something even worse. At Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C., we understand that your sense of trust has been shattered once already. That is why we pride ourselves on offering medical malpractice clients the compassion and empathy they need to deal with the aftermath of this traumatic event, while working to recover the compensation they deserve.
Have you suffered at the hands of a trust medical professional? It’s time to call the Carrollton medical malpractice lawyers at Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. at (770) 205-8827 for a free case evaluation. We can give you the legal advice you need and help you take the next steps toward holding medical personnel accountable for their actions.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
The term “medical malpractice” is sometimes applied broadly to various scenarios, but in legal terms, it refers to much more specific actions and standards of care. Medical malpractice refers to a situation where a hospital, physicians, health care professional, or other medical practice injuries a patient through a negligent act or omission. This is considered a failure to perform their medical duties. Medical malpractice can take place anywhere in the examination or treatment process of a patient from diagnosis, treatment procedures, recovery, and even health management.
What Is Required for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Under the law, several basic requirements must be met before a case can be considered medical malpractice. To begin with, there must be an established doctor-patient relationship. That means that you must have been to see the physician in their office seeking treatment of some kind. There must be medical evidence and documentation that a physician or medical professional was directly treating you and managing your health care.
Once a solid doctor-patient relationship has been established, there are other basic characteristics that a medical malpractice claim must have, including:
- Violating the standard of care: The standard of care refers to medical standards that are generally recognized by professionals as being an acceptable medical treatment by reasonable healthcare professionals under exact or similar circumstances. This standard of care means that patients can expect health care providers to deliver consistent care when treating patients. When examining a violation of this standard of care, a legal team would consider whether another reasonably skilled medical professional with a similar background would have provided the same care or treatment in the same circumstances.
- An injury was the result of negligence: Medical malpractice hinges on whether the medical professional was negligent in performing their duties. A victim must be able to prove that they were harmed or injured as a result of the medical professional not being reasonably careful or skillful. Being unhappy with a treatment or the results of a procedure are not grounds for medical malpractice.
- The injury resulted in damages: Not only must a patient prove that a doctor’s negligence was the cause of their injury, but they must also prove that the injury led to significant damages, such as pain, suffering and hardship, disability, and medical bills.
In addition to the basic characteristics of a medical malpractice claim, the state of Georgia also requires what is known as an “Affidavit of Expert.” This is a document prepared by a qualified medical expert who is willing to give their sworn opinion that they believe the medical professional you are taking to court did commit at least one negligent act in connection with your treatment. Failing to provide the court with this necessary legal document will typically lead to the dismissal of your case.
Common Forms of Medical Malpractice
There is a huge variety of situations that can lead to medical malpractice, from operating on the wrong body part to prescribing the wrong type of drug for a patient’s condition. Generally speaking, most medical malpractice cases fail into one of these basic categories:
- Failure to diagnose: If a reasonable and competent doctor would have discovered a patient’s illness, such as cancer, and that discovery would have led to a better outcome for the patient, that could be grounds for medical malpractice.
- Improper treatment procedures: A medical professional may be responsible for malpractice if they treat a patient in a way that no other reasonable or competent doctor would. Improper treatments may also refer to an appropriate treatment being administered in an incorrect manner.
- Failure to warn of known health risks: No surgery or medical procedure is completely free from risk; however, medical professionals have a duty to warn all patients of the known risks of a treatment or procedure beforehand. This is also called the duty of informed consent.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Why is it so important to see legal help in a medical malpractice case? As soon as you discover that something is wrong, the clock starts ticking, and you are already running out of time to file a suit. The state of Georgia stipulates that you must file a case within two years after the date of death or injury.
The state does have what is known as a stature of repose, which states that action for medical malpractice cases must be brought no more than five years after the date of the negligent act. The stature of repose is in place for medical malpractice cases where symptoms do not manifest themselves right away, or the malpractice is responsible for a patient’s death, but that death happens at a later date.
There is one other exception to the two-year statute of limitations, and that is related to foreign objects being left in a patient’s body. For example, if a patient has surgery, and the medical professional leaves an instrument or surgical sponge inside the victim, that person has one year to bring a suit after the negligence has been found.
Damages You May Receive From a Medical Malpractice Suit in Georgia
Calculating medical malpractice damages in the state of Georgia is complex. First, all cases are different, and the unique circumstances of a client’s case will have a bearing on the damages they can expect to recover.
In general, a victim may be able to recover economic damages for the cost of medical bills, time missed from work, and loss of income. A victim is also able to recover non-economic damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment. Georgia had placed a cap on non-economic medical malpractice damages. For a single medical malpractice claim, that number was capped at $350,000, and $700,000 if more than one facility was liable.
In 2010, Georgia’s cap on non-economic damages was deemed unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court. However, there have still been grey areas on this front, and it is best to discuss what you can expect in the form of damages with an experienced attorney at Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. It is important to remember that there is no cap on the amount of economic damages that you can recover in a successful medical malpractice case.
How Can Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. Help You With a Medical Malpractice Case
We understand that, at this time, your sense of trust has been shaken. You put your faith in a medical professional who ended up taking advantage of that trust and hurting you in your most crucial time of need. While you may be reluctant to put your faith in anyone at the moment, now is the most important time to take action against the professional that injured you. The injury law firm of Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. wants to gain your trust with compassionate and competent service and get you the compensation you deserve.
Read our reviews and call (770) 205-8827 to schedule a free case evaluation. We want to show you that there is someone out there you can trust to deliver compassionate service while fighting for your rights.