In 2005, the Georgia General Assembly enacted a statute that distinguished emergency medical care liability cases from those involving other types of medical treatment. The statute that applies to emergency treatment lowers the standard of care for the care provider while increasing the burden of proof on a patient seeking to recover for negligent medical injury.
Claimants in cases involving emergency treatment must prove gross negligence in order to establish liability, a difficult feat. In addition, the burden of proof is also increased, requiring an emergency care claimant to prove his or her case by what is called “clear and convincing evidence.” In essence, the legislature has made it more difficult, much more difficult, to hold emergency care providers responsible for carelessly-caused injury or death.
Healthcare providers pushed the statute, saying that the costs of liability insurance purportedly lessened the quality and availability of healthcare services. The legislature complied, perhaps believing that the statute’s enactment would be beneficial to Georgia citizens. However, the statute may have backfired since medical care providers now have less incentive to adhere to standards of accepted medical care.
In November 2013, Attorney Wayne Grant addressed the viability of emergency care malpractice claims at the 29th Annual Medical Malpractice Institute Seminar. Through a thorough analysis of related cases, he reached the conclusion that despite the new statute, lawsuits against emergency care providers will not be summarily dismissed as long as competent medical opinion can establish gross negligence on the part of the provider. He went further to say that juries, and not judges, would determine the outcome of such cases relying on evidence such as expert testimony.
A Supreme Court ruling on a pending ER case confirmed the predictions made by Wayne Grant at the seminar. Wayne Grant stated, “Cases involving professional negligence, such as medical malpractice, always require expert opinions. Since juries have to rely on expert opinions to decide whether a case is meritorious or not, it is not logical that a trial court would be permitted to dismiss a case that is supported by competent medical opinion. The jury, people like you and me … they weigh the evidence, they listen to the experts, they decide who is credible and who is not. Credibility is not to be determined by a judge, but by our citizens.”
In order to provide consistent quality representation to their clients, Attorney Wayne Grant and his colleagues at The Law Offices of Wayne Grant, P.C. work hard to stay ahead of new developments in liability law. If you have any questions regarding your own Georgia medical malpractice claim, call our office toll-free at (866) 249-5513.