Time Limitations in Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

August 25, 2021

Medical malpractice cases are different from personal injury cases or car accident cases. In most situations, Georgia medical malpractice cases are subject to a two-year statute of limitations from the date of injury or death. Medical malpractice cases take much longer to prepare and file suit. Typically, it takes at least three months in the execution of the whole process, which includes the following steps:

  • Obtain certified medical records
  • Find a specialist to review the case
  • Prepare the complaint and expert affidavit
  • File and serve the defendant(s)

In any medical malpractice case where the statute of limitations will expire in six months or less, a practitioner should thoroughly study the potential case and act swiftly in either moving forward with the case or notifying the refusal in writing to the client. The preferred method for making such notification is through certified mail or other verified service methods.

According to The Washington Post, medical negligence in health care institutions and hospitals is wildly common and may now be the third leading cause of death in America. Research suggests that it is responsible for 251,000 lives annually, which is more than respiratory disease, accidents, Alzheimer’s, and stroke.

A professor of surgery at John Hopkins University School of Medicine named Martin Makary, who led the research, said in an interview that the category includes everything from systematic issues to bad doctors when patients are shifted from one department to another.

Statute of Limitations in Georgia Medical Malpractice Cases:

Following are some exceptions to the typical malpractice case being subjected to a two-year statute of limitations:

  • In the case of “foreign objects”, which involved leaving foreign objects inside the patient’s body during surgery. These foreign objects may involve sponges, broken scalpels, or needles, etc. In such scenarios, the suit may be brought within one year of the discovery of the object.
  • In the case of minors, where a minor child is injured, the child and their parents have separate and independent claims. The parents’ claim may cover all medical and other costs related to the injury of their child up to the age of 18, including loss of the child’s services. The child’s suit must be filed before the seventh birthday, in case of medical negligence occurring before a child’s fifth birthday. The limitation period is two years from the date of the malpractice, in situations where the act of medical malpractice occurs after the child’s fifth birthday.
  • The lawsuit must be filed within two years of the expiration date, in scenarios involving a wrongful death claim.

Other Notes About Georgia Medical Malpractice:

In a court case which was decided in June 2018, the court of appeals decided that under the proper circumstances, an amended complaint adding a new party in a medical malpractice case can relate back to the original filing for the purposes of the two-year statute of limitations.

Georgia also has a statute of repose, which demonstrates that even if the patient or their family were unaware of the negligence, unless there is concealment, fraud, or misrepresentation, under no circumstances the health care provider can be sued after five years after the actual incident of negligence. The statute of repose restricts the filing of a wrongful death medical malpractice claim if five years have been lapsed between the time of the negligence and the filing of the claim, notwithstanding the date of the death. However, the courts have permitted the filing of a wrongful death claim even after the five-year period has elapsed, if it is filed as an amendment to an already filed medical malpractice lawsuit.

Typically, scrutinizing such cases of medical negligence and gathering all the necessary evidence to present in court is a complex and timely process. Despite the merits of the case and the solid evidence gathered, it is vital to consult an attorney who is an expert in dealing with Georgia medical malpractice cases. If the case is not filed timely within the two-year statute of limitations, there is often no way to recover.

About the Law Offices of Joe Durham Jr., PC

The competent lawyers at the law offices Joe Durham Jr., PC have a collective aim, which is to put an eternal end to Georgia medical malpractice. We have a range of clients who have trusted us in this difficult and time-consuming process and have witnessed exceptional results. Due to the stringent statute of limitations, do not wait a minute longer and call us to learn more about the services we offer our clients.