Voted Best Personal Injury Law Firm By Georgia Lawyers
Marietta Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Matt Wetherington with Wetherington Law Firm,P.C. is the hardest working attorney I have ever worked with. He went above and beyond our expectations. Calls and emails are returned promptly and by Mr. Wetherington himself.
5 Stars is nowhere near enough to rate how awesome Matt and his colleagues were. They took my case even when I didn’t think there was anything we could do. I was in a bad situation at the time and Matt, Robert, and Sarah were there for me every step of the way.
I’m so grateful to Ben Levy and everything he did for me. He was truly dedicated to helping my case. Throughout the process, Ben was very thoughtful, responsive, organized, and made sure I was fully informed along the way.
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Medical malpractice occurs when healthcare professionals make mistakes that hurt patients. When doctors, nurses, or hospitals fail in their duty to provide safe care, the effects can be life-changing. Victims might face extra medical bills, lose money from not being able to work, or suffer from pain that affects their daily lives. In some cases, they might need care for the rest of their lives because of these mistakes.
In Georgia, the law protects victims of medical malpractice. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) § 9-3-71 states that victims typically have two years to file a compensation claim after an injury from medical care. This claim can help cover costs, replace lost wages, and give something back for the pain experienced. The law is clear: if a medical professional’s error harms a patient, that patient has the right to seek help through the legal system.
At Wetherington Law Firm, we stand with victims of medical malpractice. Our skilled lawyers in Marietta know the law inside and out. We work hard to get our clients the compensation they need to recover and move forward. When you trust us with your case, we fight to make things right for you. If a medical mistake has turned your life upside down, we’re here to support you. Let Wetherington Law Firm be the ally in your corner, championing your rights and your recovery.
Understanding Medical Malpractice in Marietta, GA
Medical malpractice can include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication mistakes, poor aftercare, or failing to act on test results. The harm caused must be a direct consequence of the provider’s negligence or deviation from what is considered reasonable practice in the medical community.
To establish a medical malpractice claim in Marietta, GA, an injured party (plaintiff) must prove several critical elements.
First, a duty of care must have existed between the healthcare provider and the patient. Second, there must be evidence that the provider breached this duty by failing to adhere to the accepted standard of care. Third, it must be clear that this breach directly caused injury or harm to the patient that would not otherwise have occurred. Lastly, the patient must have suffered damages as a result of this injury—this could be physical, emotional, or financial harm.
Navigating medical malpractice cases requires a deep understanding of both the medical field and Georgia’s legal standards. Expert testimony is often a key component, as specialists in the same field must illustrate how the care provided failed to meet the standard.
Wetherington Law Firm is well-equipped to guide victims of medical malpractice through the complexities of their cases and pursue the justice and compensation they are owed under Georgia law. Contact us for a free consultation.
The Impact of Medical Malpractice on Victims
The impact of medical malpractice on victims can be profound and life-altering. When healthcare professionals fail to provide standard care, it may result in significant injuries, prolonged illness, or even lead to lifelong disabilities. In some of the most severe cases, it can tragically lead to loss of life. The physical consequences are often just the beginning; the emotional and financial burdens that follow can be equally devastating.
Victims of medical malpractice may confront overwhelming medical expenses from additional treatments needed to correct a medical error. They may also suffer lost wages due to prolonged recovery times or the inability to continue working in their chosen profession. The emotional toll is also substantial; victims can experience fear, anxiety, depression, and a loss of enjoyment in life. Relationships may suffer as both the victims and their families grapple with the stress and hardship brought on by a medical error.
Wetherington Law Firm understands the significant challenges that come with being a victim of medical malpractice. With compassion and dedication, we firm works to alleviate the burden on victims by pursuing just compensation to cover medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
What Georgia Law Says About Medical Malpractice Claims
Georgia law sets specific guidelines for filing medical malpractice claims. Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) § 9-3-71, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Georgia is generally two years from the date on which an injury or death arising from a negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred.
There is also a statute of repose that limits claims to five years after the date of the act that resulted in the injury, regardless of when the injury was discovered.
Furthermore, Georgia requires an affidavit of merit to be filed alongside the lawsuit. As stipulated in O.C.G.A. § 9-11-9.1, this affidavit must be prepared by a qualified expert who attests to at least one act of negligence by the healthcare provider based on a review of the case facts. This helps ensure that only cases with perceived merits reach the court to prevent frivolous litigation.
Steps to Take If You Suspect Medical Malpractice
If you suspect that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, there are several critical steps you should take immediately:
- Get a Second Opinion:
Consult another healthcare provider to assess your condition, treatment options and whether the previous care you received was appropriate.
- Document Everything:
Keep detailed records of all medical appointments, treatments, medications, symptoms, and conversations with healthcare providers.
- Request Medical Records:
As soon as possible, request a complete copy of your medical records from your healthcare provider. This documentation can be key evidence in your case.
- Refrain from Confrontation:
Avoid discussing your suspicions or confronting the healthcare providers you believe may have committed malpractice, as this could potentially affect a future claim.
- Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer:
Seek out an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice law. We can help you understand your rights and guide you through the complexities of medical malpractice claims.
- Avoid Social Media:
Do not post details about your potential case or medical condition online, as insurance companies and defense attorneys could use this information against you.
- Keep a Journal:
Begin a personal journal detailing the emotional and physical impact of the suspected malpractice on your daily life, which can be used to inform your attorney and potentially serve as evidence.
Key Elements of a Successful Medical Malpractice Case
To prevail in a medical malpractice case, certain key elements must be established to prove that malpractice occurred. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff (the patient or the patient’s representative). Here are the key elements:
- Establishing a Doctor-Patient Relationship:
You must show that you had a doctor-patient relationship with the healthcare provider you are suing, which establishes their duty of care.
- Proving Negligence:
You need to demonstrate that the healthcare provider was negligent in your diagnosis or treatment. That is, the healthcare professional did not act with the same level of skill or care that a similarly trained and reasonable provider would under similar circumstances.
It must be clear that the provider’s negligence directly caused the injury or harm. Establishing causation often requires a medical expert to testify that the practitioner’s action or inaction led to the adverse outcome.
You need to prove that you sustained actual harm as a result of the alleged negligence. This could include physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical bills, lost work and wages, or a decrease in your quality of life.
- Expert Testimony:
Expert witnesses are usually required to explain the medical standard of care in the specific situation, how the provider’s actions deviated from this standard, and how this failure resulted in harm.
- Preponderance of the Evidence:
The evidence provided in a medical malpractice case must meet the standard of a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more likely than not that the care provided was negligent and caused the harm.
- Statute of Limitations Compliance:
Plaintiffs must file the lawsuit within the time frame specified by Georgia’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims.
- Filing an Affidavit of Merit:
Georgia law often requires an affidavit from a qualified expert witness to be filed with the complaint, supporting the claim that at least one negligent act occurred.
- Mitigation of Damages:
Plaintiffs have a duty to minimize their losses. This means seeking requisite medical care to treat the injury resulting from malpractice and preventing it from worsening.
At Wetherington Law Firm, the team works closely with clients to ensure all these elements are addressed in their medical malpractice claims. Our attorneys work with medical experts, gather thorough evidence, and build a compelling case to enhance the chance of a successful resolution for their clients.
Potential Compensation in Medical Malpractice Cases
In medical malpractice cases, compensation—also known as damages—can be awarded to the plaintiff if the claim is successful. These damages are generally categorized into three types: economic damages, non-economic damages, and, in some rare cases, punitive damages.
- Economic Damages:
These are tangible losses that have a specific monetary value attached to them. Economic damages may include:
- Medical expenses: Costs for medical treatment received as a result of the malpractice, including hospital stays, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and any future medical care.
- Lost wages: Money that the patient would have earned from their occupation were it not for the injuries caused by the malpractice.
- Loss of earning capacity: If the patient’s ability to earn a living has been impaired for the future, compensation may be awarded for this loss.
- Other expenses: This can include the costs associated with the need for long-term care or modifications to a home due to disabilities resulting from the malpractice.
- Non-Economic Damages:
These damages are intended to compensate for intangible losses and do not have a specific monetary value. They can include:
- Pain and suffering: Compensation for physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life resulting from the injuries.
- Loss of consortium: Damages awarded to the spouse or family members for the loss of companionship and love due to the injuries.
- Punitive Damages:
Though relatively rare in medical malpractice cases, punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant’s actions were willful, wanton, reckless, or evidenced a conscious indifference to the consequences. These damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar future conduct, not to compensate the victim.
- In Georgia, punitive damages are generally capped at $250,000 in medical malpractice cases. However, there is no cap if the defendant acted with the intent to harm, or if their actions involved fraud, malice, or deliberate misconduct.
What is considered medical malpractice in Georgia?
In Georgia, as in other states, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional breaches the standard of care in their treatment of a patient, resulting in harm or injury to that patient. Here’s what typically constitutes medical malpractice under Georgia law:
- Breach of Standard of Care:
Healthcare providers are expected to adhere to a standard of care that a reasonably prudent professional with a similar background would provide under similar circumstances. If they fail to meet this standard, it may be considered a breach.
- Injury Caused by Negligence:
It must be established that the healthcare professional’s negligence directly caused injury or harm to the patient. Not all unfavorable outcomes of treatment are due to negligence; it must be proven that the injury would not have occurred if a standard level of care had been provided.
- Significant Damages:
To bring forward a malpractice claim, the patient must show that the negligence resulted in considerable harm. This includes suffering from physical pain, accumulating significant medical bills, enduring hardship such as the loss of income or employment, and experiencing a significant decrease in quality of life.
Examples of actions that might be considered medical malpractice in Georgia include:
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a medical condition
- Delay in treatment of a diagnosed medical condition
- Surgical errors, such as operating on the wrong body part or leaving instruments inside the patient
- Birth injuries resulting from negligent prenatal care or delivery room errors
- Failure to obtain informed consent before treatment
- Prescribing or administering the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage
- Not properly monitoring a patient’s condition
- Medical equipment failure
If any of these scenarios apply to your situation, seeking the advice of a medical malpractice attorney might be a prudent step to take. Legal professionals can further clarify these points and help evaluate whether you have a valid medical malpractice claim according to Georgia law.
What are the first steps I should take if I’m a victim of medical malpractice?
If you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice, it is crucial to take proactive steps not only to protect your health but also to preserve your legal rights. Here’s what you should do initially:
- Seek Medical Attention:
If you are in immediate distress or have ongoing health issues, seek medical attention from a healthcare provider other than the one you suspect of malpractice. Getting a correct diagnosis and treatment plan should be your first priority.
- Obtain Medical Records:
Request a complete copy of all your medical records related to the treatment in question as soon as possible. These documents will be essential for any legal review or action.
- Keep Detailed Records and Document Symptoms:
Write down everything you can remember about the treatment, including dates, names, and conversations you had with healthcare providers. Also, keep a diary of your symptoms, pain, and any medication or treatment you receive following the incident.
- Refrain from Communicating Directly with Healthcare Providers or Insurers About Your Suspicion:
Avoid discussing your suspicions or plans with healthcare providers or their insurance companies, as they may use this information against you in legal proceedings.
- Secure Legal Counsel:
Contact an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice. They can help you understand whether you have a viable case and what steps you need to take next. Most medical malpractice attorneys offer a free initial consultation.
- Avoid Social Media:
Do not post anything about your situation on social media platforms, as these statements can compromise your case.
- Follow Legal Advice:
Your attorney will likely instruct you to avoid certain actions that could harm your case and will guide you through the necessary legal steps.
- Understand the Statute of Limitations:
Be aware of the time constraints for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is generally two years from the date of harm or injury, with some exceptions.
What is the ‘standard of care’ in a medical malpractice case?
In a medical malpractice case, the “standard of care” refers to the level and type of care an average, prudent healthcare professional in the same field would provide under similar circumstances. This standard is not a universally precise measure but a concept that varies according to several factors, including the medical condition being treated, the patient’s age and health, and the location where treatment occurred.
Key components of the standard of care include:
The provider should conduct a complete assessment, including taking a detailed patient history, performing necessary physical exams, and ordering appropriate diagnostic tests.
The treatment prescribed and the techniques used should be suitable for the patient’s condition and accepted by the medical community as reasonable and customary.
The healthcare professional should provide care in a timely manner, without unreasonable delays in diagnosis, treatment, or referral to specialists.
The provider should ensure adequate follow-up to monitor the patient’s progress and adjust treatment as necessary.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Attorneys
If you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered due to medical malpractice, it’s critical to act swiftly to protect your rights and ensure that justice is served. Each moment counts, and securing expert legal representation is paramount. Contact us now to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced medical malpractice attorneys.
Let us help you navigate through this challenging time with the diligence, compassion, and advocacy you deserve. Don’t let the opportunity to receive the compensation you need for recovery and peace of mind slip away—reach out today!