Voted Best Personal Injury Law Firm By Georgia Lawyers
Valdosta, GA 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 Lawyers, Valdosta, Georgia
Medical malpractice can include making mistakes during surgery, giving the wrong medicine, or not diagnosing a sickness correctly. When these mistakes happen, patients can get hurt or even sicker than they were before. Sometimes, they might need more treatment, which can cost a lot of money and cause them a lot of pain and trouble.
In Georgia, the law (O.C.G.A. § 51-1-27) says that healthcare providers must give a certain level of care. If they don’t, and someone gets hurt because of it, that person can ask for money to help with their medical bills, pain, and any money they lost because they couldn’t work.
To make a claim for medical malpractice, you have to prove that the healthcare provider didn’t do their job right and that it caused you harm. This can be really hard to do because you need to show what the healthcare provider should have done differently.
Also, in Georgia, you usually have two years from when the bad care happened to start your claim (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-71). Because these cases are so complicated, it’s really important to have a good lawyer who knows all about medical malpractice and how to prove your case.
At Wetherington Law Firm, we specialize in helping people who have been hurt because of medical malpractice. We know how tough it can be to deal with these kinds of problems, and we’re here to help make things right. Our team works hard to understand what happened in your case and to fight for the money you need to cover your bills and any other problems the bad care caused.
If you or someone you care about has been hurt by a healthcare provider’s mistake, get in touch with our team. We’re here to listen to your story and help you figure out the best way to move forward.
What is Medical Malpractice?
In Valdosta, Georgia, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or nurse, fails to provide the standard of care expected in the medical community and causes harm to a patient. This can happen in various ways, including surgical errors, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, prescription mistakes, or negligence during childbirth.
Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 51-1-27) specifies that medical practitioners must deliver care with a reasonable degree of skill and attention. When they fall short of this standard, they may be liable for damages.
Victims of medical malpractice can suffer significant consequences, including physical pain, emotional distress, additional medical bills, and lost income. To successfully claim medical malpractice in Georgia, you must prove that the healthcare provider’s negligence directly caused your injury.
This often involves showing what the healthcare provider did wrong compared to what a competent provider would have done under similar circumstances. Furthermore, Georgia imposes a statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, generally two years from the date the injury occurred (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-71), highlighting the importance of timely action.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice can occur in various forms, impacting patients in numerous and often profound ways. Here are some common types of medical malpractice cases that law firms, including Wetherington Law Firm, frequently handle:
- Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis: This occurs when a healthcare provider fails to correctly diagnose a condition in a timely manner, leading to incorrect treatment, delayed treatment, or no treatment at all, potentially causing the patient’s condition to worsen.
- Surgical Errors: These errors can include operating on the wrong body part, leaving surgical instruments inside the patient, or performing surgery that is not needed. Such mistakes can result in significant harm or require additional surgeries to correct.
- Medication Errors: This type of malpractice happens when a patient is given the wrong medication or dosage, potentially due to prescription, dispensing, or administration errors. The consequences can range from minor adverse effects to life-threatening reactions.
- Childbirth Injuries: Negligence during childbirth can lead to injuries to the baby, such as cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy, or harm to the mother. Causes can include failing to anticipate birth complications, not responding appropriately to signs of fetal distress, and mishandling birth-assist tools.
- Anesthesia Errors: Anesthesiologists must carefully calculate anesthesia doses and monitor patients. Errors can lead to brain damage, asphyxia, or even death.
- Failure to Treat: This occurs when a doctor correctly diagnoses a condition but fails to recommend or administer appropriate treatment, or does not follow up adequately with the patient.
- Hospital-Acquired Infections: Patients can acquire infections in a healthcare setting if the staff fails to follow proper sanitation protocols. Some infections can have severe or deadly outcomes.
- Lack of Informed Consent: Healthcare providers must inform patients about the risks and alternatives associated with treatments or procedures. Performing a procedure without the patient’s informed consent can be considered malpractice.
Georgia Laws Governing Medical Malpractice Claims
Georgia’s legal framework provides specific guidelines for filing and pursuing medical malpractice claims, ensuring victims have a clear path to seek compensation for their injuries. Understanding these laws is crucial for anyone considering a medical malpractice claim in the state. Here’s an overview of the key statutes:
Statute of Limitations
Under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-71), victims of medical malpractice have two years from the date of injury or death to file a lawsuit. This time limit is critical because failing to file within this period typically bars the claimant from pursuing compensation.
However, the law also acknowledges scenarios where the injury might not be immediately discovered. For such cases, the statute of limitations can be extended, but not more than five years from the act that caused the injury (with certain exceptions for foreign objects left in a patient’s body, where the limit extends to one year from the discovery date, capped at ten years).
Affidavit of Expert
Georgia requires that a medical malpractice lawsuit be accompanied by an affidavit from a qualified medical expert when filed (O.C.G.A. § 9-11-9.1). This affidavit must detail at least one negligent act or omission claimed to exist and the factual basis for each such claim, serving as a preliminary proof of the defendant’s negligence.
Standard of Care
To establish medical malpractice, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the healthcare provider failed to adhere to the relevant standard of care. According to Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 51-1-27), this standard is defined as the degree of care and skill exercised by prudent professionals under similar conditions and circumstances. Essentially, the plaintiff must show that the provider’s actions were not consistent with those a competent healthcare provider would have taken in the same situation.
Victims of medical malpractice in Georgia can seek compensatory damages for both economic losses (like medical bills and lost wages) and non-economic losses (such as pain and suffering). Georgia does not have a cap on compensatory damages. However, punitive damages are capped at $250,000 in most cases, except where the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, fraud, or malice (O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1).
Georgia’s comparative negligence rule (O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33) may also apply in medical malpractice cases. If a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for their own injuries, their compensation can be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault, provided their fault is less than 50%.
What to Do If You’re a Victim of Medical Malpractice
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- Seek a Second Medical Opinion: First, prioritize your health. If you believe a medical error has worsened your condition, immediately consult another healthcare provider for a second opinion. This step is essential for assessing any harm and initiating the correct treatment.
- Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all your medical treatments, including dates of visits, names of healthcare providers, descriptions of symptoms, and details of conversations with medical staff. Additionally, compile all related medical bills, receipts, and correspondence.
- Request Your Medical Records: Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you have the right to access your medical records. Request a complete set from each healthcare provider involved to ensure you have all the documentation needed for your case.
- Keep a Journal: Start documenting how the injury impacts your daily life in a journal. Include details on pain levels, emotional distress, activities you’re unable to perform, and the effects on your relationships. This documentation can significantly support your claim for non-economic damages.
- Avoid Discussing Your Case: Exercise caution when discussing your case, particularly on social media platforms. Public comments can potentially be used against you by the defense to challenge your claim.
- Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney: Due to the complexity of medical malpractice claims, engaging with an experienced attorney early on is crucial. Our specialized lawyer can offer valuable insights into your legal rights, help evaluate your case, and represent you effectively throughout the claim process.
- Understand the Time Limits: Be mindful of Georgia’s statute of limitations for filing medical malpractice lawsuits (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-71), which is generally two years from the injury date. Delaying action can risk your eligibility to pursue compensation.
- Prepare for a Possible Legal Claim: In collaboration with your attorney, begin assembling evidence to bolster your claim. This includes gathering medical records, securing expert testimonies, and maintaining personal documentation. Your lawyer will guide you through the lawsuit filing process and strive for the best resolution of your case.
What kind of compensation can I expect from a medical malpractice lawsuit?
Victims of medical malpractice in Georgia, including those in Valdosta, are entitled to seek various forms of compensation to address the injuries and losses they’ve experienced. Understanding the types of compensation available can help ensure victims pursue all the support they need for recovery. Here’s a breakdown of the key categories:
- Medical Expenses: This includes reimbursement for past and future medical bills incurred due to the malpractice. It covers hospital stays, surgeries, medications, rehabilitative therapy, and any ongoing medical care needed.
- Lost Wages: Compensation can be claimed for wages lost due to time off work for recovery. This also extends to loss of earning capacity if the victim’s ability to work has been permanently affected, impacting their future income.
- Pain and Suffering: Victims can seek compensation for the physical pain and mental anguish experienced as a result of the malpractice. This acknowledges the non-economic impact of the injury on the victim’s quality of life.
- Emotional Distress: Beyond the immediate physical injuries, medical malpractice can lead to significant psychological effects, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Compensation for emotional distress addresses these non-physical impacts.
- Loss of Consortium: In cases where the victim is married, their spouse may be entitled to compensation for the loss of companionship, affection, and support caused by the injuries.
- Punitive Damages: Although less common, punitive damages may be awarded in cases where the provider’s conduct was especially egregious or reckless. These are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior, rather than compensate the victim directly.
- Wrongful Death and Funeral Expenses: If medical malpractice results in death, the victim’s family can pursue a wrongful death claim. This can include compensation for funeral and burial expenses, the deceased’s lost future earnings, and non-economic damages related to the loss of the deceased’s companionship and support.
Contact Wetherington Law Firm for a Free Medical Malpractice Consultation
Navigating a medical malpractice claim and securing the appropriate compensation requires a comprehensive understanding of the law and a strategic approach to building your case. At Wetherington Law Firm, we specialize in representing medical malpractice and personal injury victims, ensuring they receive the full compensation they deserve.
Our experienced team is committed to guiding clients through every step of their claim, from initial evaluation to negotiating settlements or pursuing litigation. If you believe you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, contact us to discuss your case and explore your compensation options.