Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Physicians and other hospital staff are held to a standard of care, meaning they are expected to exercise caution in their job duties, whether giving a diagnosis or performing a surgery. Any failure to adhere to this standard of care is considered negligence.
Medical malpractice claims can be filed in instances where such negligence leads to a patient’s injury or death. This is why hospitals and medical professionals carry high-priced medical malpractice policies. A successful medical malpractice claim allows a patient who has suffered harm to receive compensation for his or her injuries and losses. In a medical malpractice wrongful death claim, the deceased’s spouse and family can receive compensation.
Medical malpractice claims are complex affairs, and many attorneys do not have the experience, knowledge, and resources to get you the compensation you deserve. At Grant Law Office, our Atlanta personal injury attorneys have a reputation for success acquired over many years of hard work and passionate representation. Call us at (404) 995-3955 or (866) 249-5513 for a free, comprehensive consultation.
"Hospitals should be held accountable for any negligence concerning the quality of patient care. Wayne felt the same way. He always knew the latest update concerning the case. I received a letter or email every six weeks. I called quite a bit too. If I had a question, he explained it until I understood the situation. He genuinely cared for me and my well-being."
- Former Client
Medical negligence is a breach of an acceptable standard of care. The question to determine liability is whether a similarly qualified medical professional would have managed a patient's care in the same manner under the circumstances. Your Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers retain expert witnesses in the same or similar area of practice to answer that question.
To prove medical malpractice has occurred, we will establish the following:
- The defendant (physician, hospital, or other medical professional) owed a duty of care to you.
- The defendant failed to exercise this duty of care.
- You suffered harm as a direct consequence of this failure.
- The harm you suffered resulted in losses, both economic and noneconomic.
For a medical duty of care to exist, there must be an established medical provider-patient relationship. When the patient consents to treatment, the healthcare provider has a medical duty of care to the patient from that point forward. A medical provider is obligated to provide treatment in these instances as well:
- Hospitals may not be able to deny care to indigent persons if the facility accepts certain federal funding;
- Emergency room personnel may be required to treat persons with a life-threatening condition; or
- The medical duty of care exists if a person is unconscious and family members authorize the treatment.
In Georgia, a victim and/or a close family member may be awarded compensatory damages for medical malpractice, including economic and noneconomic losses that are directly consequent of the injury.
Economic damages include:
- The cost of reasonable and necessary medical expenses for treatment of injuries
- The cost of future medical care
- The cost of domestic services, such as in-home care or medical equipment
- The loss of earnings if the victim cannot work
Noneconomic damages address the:
- Physical and psychological harm to the victim and family
- The reduced enjoyment of life for the victim and family
- Physical pain and suffering of the victim
- Mental pain and suffering of the victim
- Other less concrete effects of the injury
The second category of medical malpractice damages is punitive. Punitive damages are a punishment imposed only if it the injured party clearly proves that the medical provider acted with willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or conscious indifference to consequences.
Medical negligence can take many forms. A patient may become the victim of medical negligence and not even know it until years later, when the consequences are made apparent. Common types of medical negligence may include:
Some more serious types are discussed below.
Before medical treatment is given, the condition being treated must be identified correctly. This identification is known as a "diagnosis." Medical malpractice can easily occur during diagnosis in several ways, including:
- Failure to diagnose a medical condition entirely;
- Mistaken diagnosis, identifying the condition as something that it is not; or
- Delayed diagnosis that postpones prompt treatment.
Failure to diagnose and mistaken diagnosis almost always result in a delayed diagnosis, because they both use up time between the patient's first attempt to find an answer and the identification of the underlying medical issue.
Despite rapid advancements in medicine in the past century, surgery still poses risks. Common surgical errors that may amount to medical negligence include:
- Unintentional laceration or perforation during surgery;
- Wrong site-surgery, such as amputation of a healthy limb instead of a diseased one; or
- Surgical tools left inside patient, like sponges or clamps.
Anesthesia is a key part of most surgeries. Because administering anesthesia is a delicate and complex practice, anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists must be properly trained. Anesthesia errors that can occur during surgery include:
- Negligent preparation of anesthesia medications, equipment, or the patient; or
- Failure to monitor or respond promptly to signs of distress.
The birthing process is a delicate one, and the entire medical staff must be on the lookout for signs of fetal or maternal distress. They must also pay careful attention to ensure all procedures are carried out correctly. Medical malpractice birth injuries that may cause harm during labor and delivery include:
- Negligence in C-sections, such as not ordering a necessary C-section or ordering an unnecessary C-section, or errors made during the C-section itself;
- Improper treatment during a difficult birth, such as the improper decision to use forceps or a vacuum extractor to move the process along;
- Medication errors that can harm the mother, the baby, or both; and
- Complications in induced labor, including inducing labor too quickly through drugs like Pitocin or failing to induce labor when needed.
You have a right to participate in your healthcare decisions. If a medical professional fails to give you adequate information with regard to a procedure or treatment, you cannot make an educated decision. If you sustain injury in the course of that treatment because you did not receive all the information, you may have a medical malpractice case.
Informed consent is a process beyond your signature on a form. The process includes the following:
- An explanation of the proposed treatment in layman’s terms
- An explanation as to why the treatment is necessary
- An explanation of all potential benefits and risks of the treatment
- An explanation of the expected outcome of the treatment, including healing time and any necessary aftercare
- Information on other options, including refusal of treatment, and the risks and benefits of other options
- The opportunity to ask questions and get answers that you easily comprehend
- The opportunity to discuss the treatment options with your family or get a second opinion, if you so desire
The legal term, "implied consent," means you have demonstrated the appropriate level of understanding before consenting to a treatment or medical procedure. Standard procedures like taking blood pressure or listening to your heart with a stethoscope do not necessitate the full informed consent process; a nod of your head or verbal consent generally suffices. However, depending upon the seriousness of a medical condition and proposed remedy, most states require written acknowledgement as to your consent.
Most medical treatments involve a number of parties, from the hospital receptionist that signs you in and takes down your information to the nurse who provides your aftercare instructions when the treatment is over. Because so many parties are involved with a patient’s treatment, there are many potential defendants in a medical malpractice claim, including:
- Doctors. This includes all medical doctors: primary care physicians, surgeons, psychiatrists, radiologists, licensed alternative medicine practitioners, dentists, etc.
- Other medical professionals. This would include anyone else involved in your treatment: anesthesiologists, EMTs, paramedics, policemen, and other first responders; nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical therapists, X-ray techs, etc. - either in private practice or employed by a doctor.
- Treatment facilities. Any facility involved in patient care can be held liable in cases of medical malpractice, including hospitals, surgery centers, clinics, labs, nursing homes, assisted living centers, hospices, urgent care centers, etc. At such facilities, it is up to the company to thoroughly validate an employee’s skill, training, licensing, work record, and more. If an employee of a facility commits an act of medical malpractice, the facility or doctor that employs him or her can be sued for medical malpractice. This is known as “vicarious liability.”
- Health maintenance organizations and insurance companies. There have been cases where HMOs were found vicariously liable for not adequately vetting the doctors that they allowed into their organization. HMOs can also be sued if they do not approve a treatment that’s needed, or force a patient’s release from a hospital before it is safe. Insurance companies can be held liable for the same reasons, or for refusing to pay for a needed treatment after the treatment has been completed.
- Pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers. The makers of a medication can be held liable if their product causes harm to a patient, particularly if the company failed to adequately warn physicians and consumers of possible adverse effects. The manufacturer of a medical device, such as hernia mesh, pacemakers, stents, and IUDs, may be sued if the product causes unexpected harm to a patient. A manufacturer can also be sued in a "defective product" lawsuit if the product is designed or manufactured defectively.
Georgia has a statute of limitations, or time limit, as to when you can file a medical malpractice claim. This time limit is two years from the time of the injury or death. In cases where the cause of the injury or death isn’t known until later, the statute of limitations is two years from the date that the cause or injury is discovered.
However, Georgia also has what is called a statute of repose, which is five years. For instance, if you received a treatment on May 1st, 2010, but didn’t know that treatment had harmed you until June 20th, 2014, you would have until June 20th, 2016 to file a claim. But, if you didn’t discover that the treatment had injured you until May 10th, 2015 (which is more than five years since the treatment), you would not be able to file a medical malpractice claim at all.
Georgia currently has no damage caps for medical malpractice claims, meaning there is no limit to how much compensation you can win. There is, however, a cap on punitive damages, which is $250,000 unless the act involves intentional harm, drugs, or alcohol.
Our medical malpractice lawyers at Grant Law Office have acquired settlements in the millions of dollars for satisfied clients. Winning a legal dispute, even against powerful hospitals or insurance companies, is far from impossible with experienced legal representation. Contact our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys to learn more about your legal rights and options. Call (404) 995-3955 or (866) 249-5513 today.
Recent Medical Malpractice Verdicts and Settlements
- $5 Million, present value settlement - Failure to treat shunt malfunction.
- $3 Million - Failure to diagnose meningitis and brain infection.
- $2.2 Million partial settlement/Additional confidential settlement with Hospital - Neurosurgeon/hospital malpractice resulting in paralysis.
- $1.25 Million - Failure to respond to medical emergency in intensive care unit.
- $1.2 Million - Pregnancy diagnosis error.
- $250,000 Verdict - Wrongful death/failure to diagnose heart attack.
- Confidential Settlement - Wrongful death.
- Confidential Settlement - Psychiatric/wrongful death.
- Confidential Settlement - Medical malpractice caused client to develop diabetic ketoacidosis and die.
- Confidential Settlement - Medical malpractice resulting in DVT (deep vein thrombosis).
- Confidential Settlement - Pharmacy error/medical negligence.
- Confidential Settlement for minor - Negligent injury during birth/medical malpractice.
Click here for more verdicts and settlements.
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Wrongful Death Day Care Case