Bad medical or dental results do not necessarily mean a health care provider committed malpractice. But serious mistakes happen every day during medical and dental care. Physicians and dentists must exercise the same reasonable care and skill that would typically be used by physicians and dentists under similar circumstances. When a physician or dentist fails to exercise reasonable care, the mistake can lead to a serious injury or even loss of life. If you are hurt by medical or dental negligence in Atlanta or surrounding areas, the trustworthy Atlanta medical negligence attorney, Michael Braun may be able to help you recover compensation for your injuries.
Liability for Medical and Dental Negligence
A plaintiff must prove three elements in an action for medical or dental negligence: (1) the doctor or dentist’s duty to the patient; (2) the doctor or dentist’s breach of that duty through failure to exercise the requisite degree of skill and care; and (3) an injury actually and proximately caused by the doctor or dentist’s failure. To bring a malpractice case against physicians or dentists in Georgia, a plaintiff must have the support of an affidavit from someone in the same profession as the defendant. If there is no malpractice affidavit or the affidavit is inappropriate, the suit will be dismissed.
The affidavit should explain the standard of care and how it was violated. The person signing the affidavit must not only be a member of the same profession but must also qualify as an expert who regularly and frequently engages in practice or teaching in the defendant’s specialty or practice area for at least three of the past five years. For example, an expert who opines on a defendant dentist’s botched wisdom tooth extraction will be expected to have taught or practiced performing tooth extractions in similar situations in the past. A judge will determine whether the expert has the appropriate level of knowledge in performing the same procedure or diagnosing a condition to be able to opine whether the defendant violated the standard of care.
Assuming an appropriate malpractice affidavit is filed, the issue of whether the defendant was negligent will often come down to which expert is more believable. Judges have broad discretion to screen expert physician or dentist testimony. Usually the experts on each side will be testifying on whether or not there was negligence. However, in hospital emergency department cases, a plaintiff must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence gross negligence. This is an extremely tough burden of proof for a plaintiff to shoulder.
Trustworthy Georgia Attorneys Can Help You Recover for Malpractice
Figuring out the window in which you can bring a malpractice claim in Georgia is very complex, making it crucial to consult an attorney with detailed knowledge and experience in this area of law. Generally speaking, there is a two-year statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases in Georgia. This runs from the date of the procedure or the date on which the plaintiff knew or should have known of his injury. Although there are two years before a suit must be filed, it is prudent to consult an attorney as soon as you suspect malpractice. Because of the additional requirements related to expert testimony, it is important for your attorney to have time to evaluate your case, retain an appropriate expert and start to build a strong case even before filing.
Georgia also has a statute of repose that limits a patient’s ability to file a claim against a medical professional. An injured patient only has five years within which he must file a lawsuit after an act that caused the injury occurred. The statute of repose means that even if an injury isn’t discovered until ten years after a medical procedure, a plaintiff will be unable to bring a lawsuit. Other rules may also apply to make the window shorter.
Michael Braun, an experienced Atlanta medical negligence lawyer, serves clients who have been injured by doctors and dentists in Atlanta and surrounding counties. As soon as you suspect an injury, contact us at (770) 421-6888 or via our online form.