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Steps in a Georgia Medical Malpractice Case

While Georgia actions for medical malpractice share many common characteristics with other types of personal injury lawsuits, these cases are very specialized and incorporate several procedural rules that make them entirely unique. One of the primary differences involves the various stages in the litigation process. Some start even before initiating the lawsuit, since you must lay the proper foundation for your case prior to filing the essential documents in court.

The steps and relevant rules are quite complicated, which is why you should trust a Georgia medical malpractice attorney to represent you in seeking compensation for your losses as a victim. Still, you might be interested to know what’s involved at different points along the way.

Preliminary Investigation: Well before filing a case for medical malpractice, the law requires a thorough assessment of the allegations to determine whether there is any merit to the case. There was a time when patients would file frivolous lawsuits for improper financial gain. As a result, it’s necessary to investigate how the facts apply to the essential elements of a medical malpractice case. The preliminary evaluation is to ensure there’s evidence to prove that:

  1. The responsible health care provider had a duty to provide care, an obligation that typically arises out of the doctor-patient relationship;
  2. The physician or facility breached the standard of care by not providing treatment in the same way as another practitioner would have under the same circumstances;
  3. The breach of the accepted standard of care was a direct cause of your injuries; and,
  4. You suffered losses because of suffering medical malpractice harm.

Effective, efficient investigation is crucial to establishing these elements at the earliest possible stages. There is a statute of limitations in Georgia medical malpractice actions that allows you two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit – or up to five years if you didn’t discover your injuries until later.

Filing the Medical Malpractice Lawsuit: The preliminary investigation supports your civil lawsuit for medical malpractice from a strategic standpoint, but it’s also necessary on the procedural side of the case. In all personal injury lawsuits, you need to file a complaint that states the grounds for your claim and makes a request for monetary damages as relief. For claims alleging medical negligence, you must also have an affidavit from a medical expert – usually the same individual who participated in the initial phase.

Discovery and Depositions: Even though your medical malpractice attorney has already conducted a preliminary investigation, you’ll need more information to proceed with the case. The Georgia civil procedure rules allow for multiple forms of discovery, through which both parties can learn additional facts about the allegations. Plus, these tools are a way to identify the key issues that are in dispute. They may include:

  • Written interrogatories, where you pose questions and the respondent answers in writing under oath;
  • Requests for production of documents, such as medical records and written reports;
  • Admissions of fact, in which you present statements and ask whether they’re true or false; and,
  • Depositions of witnesses, experts, and others with knowledge of relevant information.

Trial by Jury: The entire litigation process can take several months – or even years when there are considerable disputes over facts and legal issues. There may even be opportunities to settle your claim during pre-trial proceedings. However, if you’re unable to reach a fair, reasonable amount to resolve your case, you’ll move on to trial. Your medical malpractice attorney will be at your side to assist with:

  • Securing expert witnesses to testify in court;
  • Preparing documents and other materials to be used as exhibits;
  • Conducting opening statements and arguments regarding your right to compensation;
  • Calling witnesses and cross-examining witnesses presented by the defense; and,
  • Making closing arguments to summarize your claims.

After receiving their instructions from the judge, members of the jury will assess the information presented by both sides. A successful verdict means you’ll be able to recover for the considerable losses you suffer as a victim of medical malpractice.

Trust an Atlanta, GA Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Handle Your Claim

Of course, the specific steps in a Georgia medical malpractice claim will vary based upon your circumstances, since every case is unique. You can count on our team at the Law Offices of Julie A. Rice to address challenges and advocate on your behalf throughout the process. To learn more about our legal services, please contact our firm to set up a free consultation regarding your circumstances. We’ll be in a better position to advice you once we learn more about your experience as a victim.

We Accept a Wide Range of Georgia Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice claims fall under the umbrella of personal injury law, which is why many people believe that any attorney in this field can handle cases based upon health care provider mistakes. The truth is that medical malpractice is a highly specific, extremely detailed practice area. Seeking compensation for the negligent acts of a physician, hospital, clinic – and their respective insurers – is very different from pursuing monetary damages in a car accident claim.

You may already be familiar with our experience in birth injury cases, including those related to Erb’s palsy and brachial plexus injuries, neonatal trauma, and cerebral palsy. However, our skills and knowledge extend over into many other niches in medical malpractice law. Our Georgia medical malpractice attorneys are prepared to fight on your behalf if you suffered bodily harm due to:

Loss of Limb and Amputation: There are horrific situations where victims lose limbs or digits from the upper and lower extremities. Chart mix ups and improper transfers of medical records may be the reason a health care provider performs an incorrect procedure. In other cases, a surgeon is negligent in the strategy or decision making regarding the procedure.

Products Liability: Dangerous, defective products can cause serious injuries, and these issues do exist in the medical field. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) manages a list of medical device recalls. In the past, some products liability claims have been based upon:

  • Hernia and transvaginal mesh;
  • Defective parts for hip and knee surgeries;
  • Breast implants that leak or rupture;
  • Flaws in surgical robots;
  • Guidant defibrillators, otherwise known as pacemakers;
  • Drug-coated stents;
  • Cancers linked to use of talcum powder;
  • Defective IVC blood clot filters; and,
  • Dangerous drugs, including medications for heartburn, ulcers, birth control, pain management, blood clot thinners, and many more.

Devices and Utensils Left in the Body: It’s incomprehensible how a surgeon could forget about the implements involved with procedures. These situations often occur when hospitals or medical practices push their surgeons to the limit, forcing too many procedures in a too limited time period. When devices, sponges, and other items are left within the patient, bacteria and other germs are closed up. Left to fester, these contaminants can lead to infection, loss of limbs, and serious damage to internal organs. In worst-case scenarios, family members of a deceased victim have a wrongful death claim when their loved one dies.

Misdiagnosis of Cancer and Other Medical Conditions: One of the most devastating harms for a patient results from diagnosis errors, yet researchers at the Mayo Clinic discovered that these mistakes are shockingly common. Up to 88 percent of patients who sought a second opinion received one that was completely different or new compared to the first assessment. Such a situation drastically changes treatment and could eliminate some options, with two critical implications:

  • A delay in making a diagnosis means you may not receive proper care; and,
  • A misdiagnosis could lead to treatment you don’t need, which could lead to other medical conditions.

In particular, failure to properly diagnose cancer can be life-threatening for the patient. Some forms of the disease, which are normally treatable, may become terminal without essential care. A false-positive diagnosis is just as horrific, since you could endure surgery, radiation therapy, and chemo that was never necessary.

Medical Malpractice for Wrongful Death: When health care providers make errors that lead to fatalities, surviving family members are left with significant losses due to their loved one’s passing. To ease the financial and emotional burdens, Georgia has enacted a wrongful death statute that applies to situations of medical malpractice. Many personal injury cases focus on the injured victim, but wrongful death actions center on the survivors – who are also victims. In these cases, it’s possible for the spouse and/or children to recover:

  • Burial and funeral expenses;
  • Costs of the decedent’s treatment before death;
  • The future income the decedent would have earned had he or she not passed away;
  • Loss of the deceased individual’s love, guidance, support, companionship, and education; and,
  • Other monetary damages based upon the circumstances.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Atlanta, GA Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you were injured because of negligence in the above areas or any other type of medical malpractice, retaining experienced counsel is essential. Please contact the Law Offices of Julie A. Rice to set up a no-cost case evaluation with a member of our team. Once we have a chance to review your unique circumstances, we can get started on a strategy to pursue the compensation you deserve under Georgia law.

Calculating Damages in a Georgia Medical Malpractice Case

Under Georgia’s statute on medical malpractice, you may have a claim for damages if you were injured or lost a loved one because of negligence, mistakes, or other misconduct. The law goes into detail regarding who can be held liable, including professionals who provide health, medical, and surgical services. Entities such as hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and other facilities may also be accountable for a patient’s injuries. However, the statute doesn’t provide information on what types of damages are available.

It’s not necessary for you to have in-depth knowledge of the damages you can recover, since your Georgia medical malpractice lawyer will handle the specifics and get the full compensation you’re allowed by law. Still, you may find it useful to understand the basics behind damages in a medical malpractice claim.

Medical Bills: Even when you received treatment that didn’t conform to relevant standards of care, you still incur costs related to the associated services. You may be able to recover for these expenses, as well as the amounts you expended to treat the resulting injuries. Plus, Georgia medical malpractice laws often cover your future medical expenditures. In a successful claim, you may obtain reimbursement for past, current, and future costs for:

  • Emergency treatment;
  • Surgery, including cosmetic and restorative procedures;
  • Hospital admission;
  • Treatment from specialists;
  • Ongoing physical therapy;
  • At-home or nursing home services;
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications; and,
  • Transportation costs to and from health care facilities.

Lost Wages: Medical malpractice injuries can be so serious that they keep you away from your job. You could miss several weeks or months entirely, or you may only be able to work in a limited capacity. In certain occupations, you’ll miss out on business or professional opportunities that you would have been able to take advantage of if you were healthy. Your entire household could be adversely affected with the loss of income.

Plus, there may come a time when you’ve reached your maximum level of recovery, but will never be able to earn what you did before medical malpractice affected your life. Georgia law does take these factors into account through the lost wages type of damages.

Pain and Suffering: Some types of damages aren’t easily quantifiable in dollar amounts, but you still suffer the consequences of medical malpractice. Generally, these losses are termed “pain and suffering” or “non-economic” damages. They include:

  • Diminished quality of life from not being able to enjoy favorite activities;
  • The loss of independence and other implications from having to rely on others for care; and,
  • Emotional effects, such as depression, anxiety, anger, and suicidal tendencies.

Pain and suffering are an important issue when the root cause of the medical malpractice claim is due to failure to diagnose cancer. There’s a significant emotional distress involved when you find out that you’ve been afflicted with the disease for some time, and should have been undergoing treatment to treat it. At the other extreme, a false-positive diagnosis of cancer can lead to pain and suffering when you endured surgery, radiation therapy, and chemo treatments that you didn’t need.

Losses Affecting Personal Relationships: While it’s true that you suffer tremendously as the victim of medical malpractice, there are implications for your spouse, children, parents, and other loved ones. Loss of consortium is an example. The point of this category of medical malpractice compensation relates to the effects on the family relationships.

Damages for Death from Medical Malpractice: Like other US states, Georgia has a wrongful death statute that applies when someone dies because of a mistake in providing medical care. A surviving spouse, children, and/or other relatives may be able to recover for the value of the life of their deceased loved one. In wrongful death actions, the focus is on the suffering of survivors.

As such, damages in a Georgia wrongful death claim may include those sustained by a spouse and other relatives who were dependent upon the decedent for support. Losses related to companionship, guidance, love, emotional support are usually the focus of a medical malpractice claim for wrongful death.

Discuss Your Legal Options with an Atlanta, GA Medical Malpractice Attorney

This general information should be helpful in describing the range of damages you may be able to recover in a medical malpractice claim, but the details are much more complicated. Fortunately, you can count on our team at the Law Offices of Julie A. Rice to aggressively pursue all available compensation in your case. Please contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation regarding damages and your legal remedies in a Georgia medical malpractice case.

Damages That Follow an Infant and/or Mother Birth Injury

There are certain costs of raising a child that you expect when you’re pregnant and your due date is fast approaching, such as diapers, food, and education. However, these financial considerations will be far from your mind if you’re informed that your baby has suffered a birth injury as a result of medical error. The emotional impact of such news can be considerable, especially as you think about the immediate and long-term damages. According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cost of birth injury hospitalizations to the US health care system averages about $23 billion.

Still, these figures don’t do justice to what you and your family will incur personally, and they don’t cover the long-term damages that inevitably result from birth injuries. When you realize that a medical mistake will become an alarming economic burden, it’s time to discuss your circumstances with an Atlanta, GA birth injuries lawyer

Costs of Immediate Care After a Birth Injury: During or immediately following delivery, health care practitioners may need to provide specialized medical care just to stabilize the infant’s or mother’s medical condition. It may be necessary to perform surgery or other procedures, and your newborn may spend time in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). A March of Dimes publication on Special Care Nursery Admissions reveals that, when infants are admitted to the NICU, the average length of stay is approximately 13 days – totaling more than $76,000 in medical and hospitalization costs.

Long-Term Direct Costs: For babies that suffer serious developmental conditions due to birth injuries, the expenses don’t end when you bring your newborn home. The CDC estimates that the direct costs of raising a child with intellectual or developmental disabilities can be 25 times a healthy child. These expenses may encompass such ongoing medical care as:

  • Physical, behavioral, cognitive, and speech therapies;
  • In-home care or placement at an assisted living center;
  • Corrective surgeries;
  • Wheelchairs, adaptive equipment, and assistive devices;
  • Renovations to your home to allow for adaptive equipment and hospital beds;
  • Vehicle modification and lifts to accommodate adaptive equipment; and,
  • Much more.

Indirect Damages: There are also implications that you don’t anticipate when your baby suffers from a birth injury that has permanent ramifications. Some may be measurable in terms of cost, but others are hard to value in dollar figures. Perhaps the most impactful is for parents who choose to care for the child at home. Many victims of birth injuries will require care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which makes it impractical – and usually impossible – to work full time. Caretakers give up their sources of income, and may even need to forego future professional and business-related opportunities.

There are also indirect damages that affect the child, especially quality of life. Plus, depending on the specifics, there’s the possibility of premature mortality.

Consult with an Atlanta Birth Injury Attorney About Your Claim

You may be entitled to compensation for both direct and indirect costs, in the short and long-term, if you or your child suffered birth injuries due to medical malpractice. For more information on your legal rights, please contact the office of Julie A. Rice in Atlanta, GA. We can provide more information on your legal options after reviewing the details of your case.


FAQs About Baby Medical Malpractice and Claims Against Pediatricians

The birth of your child was a joyous occasion, and it’s a relief when he or she has a clean bill of health. However, health care providers must deliver proper medical care for infants well beyond birth, as a range of complications can affect your infant in the first few weeks of life. When they fail or make critical errors, your baby can suffer serious harm. You may have rights as a parent, and an Atlanta, GA baby medical malpractice attorney can explain them in more detail. However, answers to common questions about pediatric medical malpractice may be helpful.

How often do babies suffer injuries because of malpractice?

Fortunately, the incidence of malpractice is relatively low in the medical specialty of pediatrics. The American Medical Association reports that around 34 percent of all physicians have been sued for medical malpractice at some point in their careers; however, only 18 percent of pediatricians face medical malpractice lawsuits.

What are some medical conditions that result from pediatric malpractice?

The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that a delayed diagnosis of meningitis is the most common error committed by pediatric health care providers. This infection can initially cause intense headaches and high fever, but – left undiagnosed and untreated – it can lead to convulsions and even death. In addition, some other complications include:

  • Misdiagnosis of appendicitis, which can cause the appendix to rupture;
  • Prescription errors through ordering the wrong drug, the wrong dosage, or duration for taking medication.

Do I have rights if my baby was hurt because of a medical error?

You may have grounds to file a baby medical malpractice claim against a pediatrician, but these cases are very complex. They’re very different from personal injury actions based upon an accident or negligence, and there are specific elements you must prove.

  • You must show the existence of a medical standard of care, which describes the level of competence and skill that doctors would exercise in providing treatment under the same or similar circumstances;
  • You need to demonstrate the ways that your child’s physician failed in applying this standard of care; and,
  • You must prove that your baby suffered harm because of the deviation from the standard of care.

How long do I have to file a baby medical malpractice claim?

Under Georgia’s statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims, you must file a lawsuit within two years after the date on which wrongful act or mistake occurred. If you don’t sue the responsible parties in court, you’re forever barred from seeking compensation for your losses. However, this time period may be extended under some circumstances, particularly where you didn’t discover your baby’s injuries until later. In such a situation, you have five years from the date that the medical error occurred.

Call Now to Speak with an Experienced Baby Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Though medical errors in pediatrics is less frequent than other specialties, that’s no consolation to parents whose child suffers injuries because of malpractice. To learn more about your rights and legal options as a parent, please contact Attorney Julie A. Rice. We can schedule a no-cost consultation at our Atlanta, Georgia office to review your circumstances and explain how these claims work.

What is the Value of Never being able to Eat Solid Foods for the Rest of Your Life? This Clayton County, Georgia, State Court Jury decides it is Worth more than Nothing which is what the Defense Offered in this Medical Malpractice Case.

In February of 2012, 46 year old Jeannette Collins reported to the Henry Piedmont Hospital Emergency Room (ER) in Georgia with complaints of nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Tests were ordered in the ER that ultimately showed that Ms. Collins had a small bowel obstruction requiring surgery. At trial, both the Plaintiff, Mr. Collins, and the Defendant Dr. Ahmad Nuriddin agreed that this was the proper procedure under the circumstances. During the surgery, however, the Defendants contend that they discovered that Ms. Collins had gastric outlet obstruction which is a problem that will keep the stomach from emptying. 

Continue reading What is the Value of Never being able to Eat Solid Foods for the Rest of Your Life? This Clayton County, Georgia, State Court Jury decides it is Worth more than Nothing which is what the Defense Offered in this Medical Malpractice Case.

A Medical Malpractice Case in Fulton County, Georgia whereby a Plaintiff, even with Injuries that were caused by the Defendant, lost the case as the Plaintiff failed to prove that the Standard of Care was Breached: VIDEO included ~ part one


Continue reading A Medical Malpractice Case in Fulton County, Georgia whereby a Plaintiff, even with Injuries that were caused by the Defendant, lost the case as the Plaintiff failed to prove that the Standard of Care was Breached: VIDEO included ~ part one

ANESTHESIA MALPRACTICE ~ The Deviation in the Standard of Anesthetic Care During Intubation Resulting in Aspiration ~ part two

This is a continuation of my discussion of this most important topic from my last blog post titled, “ANESTHESIA MALPRACTICE ~ The Deviation in the Standard of Anesthetic Care During Intubation Resulting in Aspiration ~ part one,” whereby I am setting forth some important questions that need to be answered and why these questions are important when faced with a Medical Malpractice Case involving whether or not there was a breach, or deviation, in the standard of care during an intubation that resulted in an aspiration. The important questions are continued as follows:

Continue reading ANESTHESIA MALPRACTICE ~ The Deviation in the Standard of Anesthetic Care During Intubation Resulting in Aspiration ~ part two

ANESTHESIA MALPRACTICE ~ The Deviation in the Standard of Anesthetic Care During Intubation Resulting in Aspiration ~ part one

iv-bag-65906-m.jpgThis is my first blog titled, “ANESTHESIA MALPRACTICE ~ The Deviation in the Standard of Anesthetic Care During Intubation Resulting in Aspiration ~ part one.” At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates we handle a variety of Medical Malpractice Cases in Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding communities including DeKalb County, Cobb County, Fulton County, the City of Atlanta, and Gwinnett County, just to name a few. One of the types of cases that we see are cases that involve Medical Malpractice in Anesthesiology or, in other words, Anesthesia Malpractice.

Continue reading ANESTHESIA MALPRACTICE ~ The Deviation in the Standard of Anesthetic Care During Intubation Resulting in Aspiration ~ part one

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