Doctors and medical staff must follow certain standards when caring for patients. When those standards are not met or are ignored, patients may suffer serious personal injury or even death. According to a 2016 study by physicians at Johns Hopkins Medical School, more than 250,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical errors. That ranks third for the leading cause of death in America behind only heart disease and cancer.
While not all medical errors will give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit, the Augusta, GA-based medical malpractice lawyers at Nicholson Revell are well versed and have years of experience in evaluating and pursuing medical malpractice cases.
When you or a loved one is the victim of malpractice, it is important to work with a team of attorneys that understands the issues involved to help you get the compensation and closure you seek. The right law firm can help you secure the results you need to move forward.
Our firm’s years of experience allow us to help clients first determine whether or not medical malpractice has occurred. Our attorneys work with various experts to determine whether malpractice has occurred and whether that malpractice has caused our clients to suffer injury or death. If the wrongdoer fails to accept responsibility, we are ready to fight for your rights by filing a lawsuit and ultimately taking your case to a jury.
Contacting an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible can put you on the path to receiving the compensation and closure you deserve. By contacting our law offices for a free, no-obligation consultation, we can help you understand the type of claim to file and the levels of compensation you may be entitled to. Once retained, Nicholson Revell LLP aggressively investigates and pursues all claims for catastrophic injuries and death caused by medical malpractice in all its forms.
Medical Malpractice occurs when a physician or healthcare provider’s negligence results in injury or death. Georgia Code Section 9-3-70 defines an action for medical malpractice as a legal claim for damages resulting from an injury or death arising out of medical care rendered by a licensed professional or facility. It lists possible defendants as public or private hospitals, medical facilities, nursing homes, clinics, or any employee thereof.
Medical malpractice can describe any action or failure to act that a reasonable and prudent medical professional would not have made in the same or similar circumstances, causing patient harm. Medical malpractice can take many forms:
You might have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim in Georgia if your doctor, health care provider or hospital failed to fulfill the medical industry standard of care. The standard of care is a degree of patient care that a reasonable and prudent provider would exercise in a given circumstance.
A birth injury specifically refers to a careless action or omission that has an adverse effect on pregnancy, labor or delivery, causing injury to the infant. Gynecologists, obstetricians, and other health care providers have a legal responsibility to take due care in preventing birth injuries. This standard of care requires health care providers to:
Taking or omitting any actions that breach the medical standard of care during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or shortly after delivery can cause serious infant injuries. Common injuries include traumatic injuries, broken bones, facial paralysis, nerve damage, arm and shoulder damage, brain damage, palsies, and wrongful death.
If you discover your child has an injury due to birth trauma, you may have grounds for a claim in Georgia. As a parent or legal guardian, you can file a claim on behalf of your minor child. If the malpractice occurred before your child’s fifth birthday, you must file a lawsuit by your child’s seventh birthday. If the malpractice occurred after your child’s fifth birthday, you have two years from the date of malpractice to file.
Health care professionals such as physicians and surgeons are usually independent contractors who have been hired to work at doctors’ offices and hospitals. Generally, they are not employees of the health care center. If an independently contracted medical provider commits medical malpractice, he or she is individually liable for damages. In other words, the doctor’s own insurance coverage pays for your losses.
If, on the other hand, the doctor, nurse, or staff member who caused your injury was an employee at the hospital or facility at the time of the malpractice, the facility will be vicariously liable. Vicarious liability means that an employer speaks for the actions and behaviors of its employees. As long as the health care provider was employed and on duty at the time of the malpractice, you have grounds to bring a claim against the health care center itself.
Identifying the right liable party is a key part of your medical malpractice claim. While an individual doctor may not have enough insurance to fully cover your losses, a hospital most likely will. A lawyer can investigate your claim to determine all liable parties. Then, your lawyer can bring a claim against the correct party or parties on your behalf.
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is a complex undertaking in Georgia. You or your attorney must comply with the state rules that are unique to these types of lawsuits. First, fill out the required forms and submit them to the civil courts in Richmond County.
The initial claims papers state the nature of your claim, give the defendant’s name and contact information, list your losses, and include an amount you are demanding in financial compensation. Your lawyer can help you with the paperwork involved in filing.
Then, file an affidavit of merit prepared by a qualified medical expert to go along with your initial complaint. An affidavit of merit is a legal document stating that a qualified medical expert in a relevant field has given his or her sworn opinion that the claim is valid. The medical expert will state his or her factual basis for coming to this conclusion.
Failing to file an affidavit with your claim may lead to the dismissal of your lawsuit. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you with the affidavit of merit by connecting you to a medical expert in the correct field of medicine.
The most important law to know when filing a medical malpractice claim is Georgia’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations places a deadline on an injured patient’s right to file a lawsuit. This deadline differs from state to state. If you miss your deadline, you most likely give up the right to pursue damages forever.
In Georgia, you have two years to bring an action for medical malpractice, in most cases. The clock starts ticking on the date of the wrongful act or omission that caused an injury or death. If you did not discover your injury until later, you may have more time to file. Georgia has a statute of repose of five years, however, meaning you must file within five years regardless of when you discover the injury.
There is an exception to the statute of repose for cases involving foreign objects left behind in a patient’s body after surgery. If a surgeon accidentally leaves a tool, cotton ball, towel, or another foreign object in a patient’s body, the patient has one year from the date of discovery of the injury to file, even if this is more than five years after the operation.
Filing a lawsuit holds a medical provider accountable for your injuries, and that is important for many reasons. Shedding light on dangerous or careless practices at health care centers in your community can potentially save other patients from the same harm you suffered. Filing a lawsuit could force the provider to change its procedures and protocols in the future for better patient care.
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Augusta could also serve another purpose: to reimburse you for the costs and losses suffered as a result of the defendant’s wrongful conduct. You could recover compensation for several losses with a successful claim:
You could be eligible for compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are the out-of-pocket costs you had because of malpractice. Noneconomic damages are personal and intangible losses, such as emotional distress and mental anguish. You may also receive punitive damages, although these are not common. Punitive damages are awarded to punish a defendant for gross negligence or intent to harm.
No average amount for a medical malpractice claim exists. Cases and clients are so unique that an average amount will not accurately reflect the potential value of your lawsuit. For example, at Nicholson Revell LLP, we have acquired different amounts for different clients. The best way to learn the potential value of your medical malpractice claim is by consulting with an attorney. Many factors could affect how much your case is worth, including:
Working with an attorney can allow you to demand maximum compensation for your medical malpractice claim.
The Augusta, Georgia attorneys at Nicholson Revell LLP are ready to help you navigate what can be a long and arduous legal journey. Find out how we can help you with a medical malpractice claim in Augusta. Contact us today for a free consultation.