This is the further analysis of the case and the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court’s final decisions that were discussed in my prior blog post titled, “The Georgia Supreme Court rules that the Statute of Limitations was Tolled when a Dental patient Seeking the advice of a Second Dentist who was a part of the original treatment, and/or performed part of the original treatment, may have begun to realize that the First Dentist(s) committed Dental Malpractice ~ part two.”
The Defendant’s then appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Georgia which granted appellants’ petition for a writ of certiorari, directing the parties to brief the following: Did the Court of Appeals err when it held that the statutory period [of limitation] was tolled even after the plaintiff consulted with a second dentist? See Witherspoon v. Aranas, 254 Ga. App. 609, 614 (2) (b) (562 SE2d 853) (2002), overruled on other grounds by Chandler v. Opensided MRI of Atlanta, LLC, 299 Ga. App. 145, 157 (2) (b) (682 SE2d 165) (2009).
The Supreme Court stated that the tolling statute already provides that, where the defendant has engaged in fraud by which the plaintiff has been debarred or deterred from bringing an action, the period of limitation runs only from the plaintiff’s discovery of such fraud. OCGA § 9-3-96.
Those cases in which the appellate courts have held that the tolling of the period of limitation as a result of fraud ends at the point at which a plaintiff seeks the diagnosis of another doctor are based upon the rationale that, at such a point, the plaintiff is no longer deterred, by any conduct of the defendant, from learning the true facts. See, e.g., Bryant v. Crider, supra, 209 Ga. App. at 627. (“Once a plaintiff seeks the diagnosis or care of another doctor, she is no longer deterred from learning the true facts . . . .”).
Where, as here, the doctor consulted is one who has provided professional services to the plaintiff jointly with the defendant, that rationale does not apply, and the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
In this case, the Georgia Supreme Court and the Appellate court were right on point. Not only since Dr. Winston was a part of the original treatment plan, but since she was the actual dentist who placed the implants, could the Plaintiff possibly have enough facts to determine that dental malpractice had occurred.
It was not until the Plaintiff sought the opinion of a dentist that was outside of the either the dentists who were a part of the treatment plan or who actually performed the treatment, could she have been aware that dental malpractice occurred and it was at that point that her statute of limitations began to run.
At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates, we are experts in both Dental and Medical Malpractice cases and we understand the law in these case so if you or a loved one have been injured or killed by the negligence of a dentist, doctor, or other medical professional, then please Contact Us for your free legal consultation.
We are here to make sure that you receive all of the just compensation that you deserve, and, as is noted in the case at issue here, there are strict time limitations to these cases so it very important that you contact as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
In my next blog post, I will discuss the Deviation of the Standard of Dental Care when Treating a Patient Requesting Dental Implants.