Patients who become victims of their doctors’ negligence have limited time to prepare and file a malpractice claim. In Georgia, medical malpractice cases have a statute of limitations of two years. This means that patients have two years from their injury date to file a malpractice lawsuit. However, this does not mean they should wait for two years before contacting a Georgia medical malpractice attorney.
Why Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Georgia Recommend Early Action
Lawsuits involve complicated procedures that should be initiated in advance. A single day of delay could be enough for the court to dismiss a case. Moreover, just the act of filing the lawsuit in due time does not guarantee a favorable verdict. The claimant or their Georgia medical malpractice attorney will still have to prove their case. That takes solid evidence which, in turn, takes time to obtain.
Therefore, the best strategy for patients is to reach out to a Georgia medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. The latter will use the time to gather evidence and build a solid case. They will file the lawsuit when they know the time is right and they have everything they need. The sooner they begin the procedures, the sooner their client will receive their compensation.
What happens when the patient waits too long and the two-year deadline has already passed? The defendant (the doctor, their insurer, the hospital, etc.) will ask the court to dismiss the case. If the claimant cannot justify the delay, they will most likely lose their right to compensation.
However, an experienced Georgia medical malpractice lawyer may be able to avoid that. The statute of limitations does allow a few exceptions they could turn to in order to help their client. We will review them in the following lines.
Exceptions to the Two-Year Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases in Georgia
There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations, including:
1. Late Discovery
Some injuries display symptoms long after they occur. In such cases, Georgia law stipulates that the two-year deadline starts running on the discovery day. The patient will have to prove when their first symptoms appeared and that such delays are normal.
This may take medical reports and expert testimonies. However, an experienced Georgia medical malpractice lawyer will know how to obtain them. It is important to note that late discovery does not justify delaying actions beyond a five-year deadline.
2. Minor or Mentally Incompetent Patient
Georgia law grants special circumstances to children and patients who are mentally incompetent. Code section 9-3-73 foresees that:
- Persons legally incompetent have to take action within no more than five years from the malpractice.
- Actions referring to minors under five years of age should be brought after the child’s tenth birthday. Actions referring to minors aged five or older should be initiated within five years from the malpractice.
3. Foreign Objects Left in the Patient’s Body
Code section 9-3-72 gives patients with foreign objects left in their body one year from discovery to take action. The rule does not apply to chemical compounds, fixation devices, and prosthetic aids or devices.
4. Other Exceptions the Court May Allow on a Case-to-Case Basis
An experienced Georgia medical malpractice lawyer may be able to obtain an extension even outside the situations above.
For example, they may be able to prove that the doctor at fault covered their malpractice and prevented discovery. Perhaps the patient went to them complaining about symptoms and they blamed them on something else. They may also be able to prove that the discovery occurred late due to “failure to diagnose”.
The court may allow such justifications and grant extensions past the five-year from malpractice. However, it is important to note that these exceptions are not guaranteed. The court allows them on a case-to-case basis, and only if convincing evidence exists.
It takes an experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated Georgia medical malpractice lawyer to convince them. The latter will review all case details, identify the best strategy, and gather the necessary evidence. They will present that evidence in such a way as to show that the delay was not their client’s fault. The rule remains: the sooner Georgia medical malpractice lawyers start working on the case the better.
Schedule a FREE Case Review with One of the Most Dedicated Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Georgia
If you incurred injuries due to a healthcare provider’s negligence, you cannot afford to lose time. It does not matter when the malpractice occurred. You need to find out where you stand, and we can help, for free. Call our office at (229) 351-5320 and schedule a consultation with our Georgia medical malpractice lawyer now! Every day counts!