Medical professionals, including doctors and nurses, have a responsibility to make a proper diagnosis and provide quality medical services. When they fail to meet that responsibility and patients are harmed, those victims have a right to seek full and fair compensation. Malpractice cases are complex. If you have suffered an injury as the result of malpractice, you need the help of an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer. Contact our law firm today for a free consultation.
Medical malpractice is a type of tort – or wrongdoing – that can result in a lawsuit being brought against the negligent medical provider or hospital in Georgia. In a medical malpractice case, negligence is the failure of a health care practitioner to adhere to the proper standards of patient care, resulting in a patient injury or death. Medical malpractice can take many forms, as there are almost endless ways in which a physician can fall short of the medical industry’s standards of care. The most common examples include:
If you believe you have any type of medical malpractice case in Atlanta, consult with an attorney as soon as possible. These are complex cases that come with strict filing deadlines and legal requirements. An attorney can build a strong injury claim on your behalf from the very beginning by thoroughly investigating your case, gathering evidence, hiring expert witnesses and using aggressive litigation strategies. It is important to find an attorney with experience handling your type of medical negligence claim in Atlanta for optimal results.
At Hilley & Frieder, P.C., our medical malpractice lawyers have been representing clients during medical malpractice claims in Georgia for more than 35 years. We have the experience to properly litigate your case. We handle a broad range of medical malpractice claims in Georgia, including:
These medical malpractice cases can be very complex and expensive. If you are seeking compensation from those responsible for your injuries, you need a firm with the ability to analyze all the issues involved and successfully represent your interests at trial.
Any patient in Georgia can file a medical malpractice claim if he or she has evidence of medical negligence and a related injury, illness or death. Malpractice lawsuits can be brought against physicians, surgeons, dentists, chiropractors, nurses, cardiologists, optometrists and many other types of health care practitioners in Atlanta. However, the injured patient must establish the grounds for a civil lawsuit. This type of claim can be filed if the following elements are more likely than not to be true:
Not all negative patient health outcomes are medical malpractice. If a practitioner failed to fulfill the duty of care, however, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your related injuries. To confirm whether you have an Atlanta medical malpractice lawsuit, consult with an attorney at Hilley & Frieder, P.C. We will review the details of your case and let you know if we believe it has merit. If so, we’ll explain the next steps – filing your lawsuit to demand justice and compensation from the at-fault health care provider.
Determining liability – or financial responsibility – for your medical malpractice claim may take an investigation into who or what caused your injury. Your doctor may have directly caused your injury through negligence, for example, but if he or she was an employee of a hospital in Atlanta, you may have grounds to sue the hospital through the rule of vicarious liability. This law states that employers are accountable for the actions and mistakes of their on-duty employees.
Holding a hospital, emergency room, nursing home or health care facility liable for medical malpractice can result in greater financial compensation than a lawsuit against an individual doctor or practitioner. Hospitals generally have more insurance coverage and higher policy limits than doctors’ personal policies. If the negligent physician was working as an independent contractor, however, you may only be able to use a personal policy for coverage.
Some medical malpractice claims in Atlanta involve defective medical devices. If a defective product in the medical industry caused or contributed to your injury, you can hold a manufacturing company liable. It is also possible to hold two or more parties liable at the same time – such as an incompetent doctor and a product manufacturer. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you identify all of the defendants in your case for optimal results.
In a medical malpractice case, the burden of proof rests with the injured patient (the plaintiff). This means if you file a lawsuit, it is up to you or your lawyer to prove the elements of your case. The burden of proof in a civil claim is a preponderance of the evidence, or clear and convincing evidence. This is lower than the requirement during a criminal case, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It can still be difficult to meet this burden, however. You may need evidence such as:
Medical expert testimony is often vital evidence for malpractice claims in Georgia. A medical expert can confirm that the defendant named in the case did not do what a reasonable and prudent doctor would have under the same or similar circumstances, for example. Working with a lawyer can make it easier to preserve, collect and present key evidence to support your medical malpractice lawsuit.
Under Georgia law, you have the right to collect compensation for your physical, emotional, and financial losses following an act of medical malpractice. These may include economic damages, non-economic damages, and, in rare cases, punitive damages.
Economic damages refer to the financial losses you incur as a result of the malpractice. These may include lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and past and future medical care for your injuries. You cannot claim compensation for medical expenses related to the injury or illness that caused you to seek care for the first place; all of the damages you claim must result from the negligence of the medical professional.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, refer to the intangible pain and suffering you endure due to the malpractice. These damages may include the following losses:
Finally, the court may award you punitive damages if the defendant in your case exhibited willful misconduct, fraud, oppression, malice, wantonness, or conscious indifference to the consequences of his or her actions. The purpose of this compensation is to punish the defendant, rather than recover your losses. For example, a doctor who makes a mistake when interpreting your test results will not likely have to pay punitive damages.
However, if your doctor accurately interprets your test results and intentionally passes on false information to you about your condition, you may have grounds for punitive damages.
Georgia places a cap, or a limit, on the amount of punitive and non-economic damages you can receive in a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, the state does not impose a cap on the number of economic damages you can claim.
You cannot claim more than $1.5 million in total non-economic damages in a single claim, with no more than $350,000 total from all healthcare provider defendants and no more than $700,000 from all medical facility defendants.
For punitive damages, Georgia imposes a $250,000 cap for most medical malpractice lawsuits. However, if your case involves intentional harm or the use of drugs or alcohol, the court will not limit the punitive damages you claim.
It is important to understand the value of your medical malpractice claim in Georgia. Hospitals and insurance companies are notorious for trying to devalue claims and offer as little as possible to injured patients of malpractice – even for serious and debilitating injuries. Before you rush into a fast settlement, consult with an attorney who will give you an honest and accurate portrayal of what your case is worth.
In a medical malpractice claim, financial compensation is calculated in two parts: economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are added up using bills and receipts that document how much you spent or owe because of your injury or illness. This may include your medical bills, disability accommodations, home or vehicle modifications, lost wages, physical therapy, travel costs, out-of-pocket expenses, legal fees, and lifetime care. Your future economic losses will also be calculated and adjusted for inflation.
If you are entitled to noneconomic damages, these are harder to calculate. Two main equations are often used by juries to calculate noneconomic damages in injury claims. The first is the Multiplier Method. This equation multiples the total amount of the victim’s economic damages by a multiplier between 1 and 5, based on injury severity. The more substantial the injury, the higher the multiplier. The other method is the Per Diem Method. This multiplies a daily pain and suffering amount (often equivalent to the individual’s daily wage) by the number of days he or she is likely to experience pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering awards are typically left up to a jury to decide. Jurors do not have to use one of these equations – or any equation at all – to calculate pain and suffering damages. Determining a fair amount to pay a victim for intangible losses requires a careful look at how severely the incident has impacted his or her life. A calculation may look at your age, health, overall quality of living, degree of injury, psychological trauma and many other general damages to determine a fair amount.
All civil lawsuits must adhere to the statute of limitations, which is a rule that places a deadline by which you must file your claim. In Georgia, you have two years from the date of the negligence to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you do not file within this time period, the court will dismiss your lawsuit — and you will lose your chance at collecting the monetary damages you need to recover.
There are some exceptions to the two-year time limit:
Georgia does not allow plaintiffs to file medical malpractice lawsuits more than five years after the date of the negligence. To ensure you meet your filing deadline, speak to a medical malpractice lawyer at Hilley & Frieder, P.C.
You’ve been through enough as the victim of malpractice. Allow our medical malpractice attorneys in Atlanta to take care of the legal process for you so that you can focus on healing. A lawyer can handle matters and issues connected to your case that require legal expertise, such as filling out confusing legal forms and dealing with insurance companies on your behalf.
A lawyer can also answer your questions and help you understand all of your legal options so that you can proceed with better peace of mind. The right medical malpractice lawyer can increase your odds of case success, negotiate for maximum compensation and resolve the matter in your best interests to help you move forward.
Call (404) 233-6200 today to discuss your situation with an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney. You may also send us an email or contact us through our convenient online form. We offer a free consultation to discuss your options and only collect attorney fees out of any compensation we recover for you.