There are many different types of injuries that form the basis for a legal action, but some of the most devastating result from doctors or other medical professionals making preventable errors that lead to serious harm. It is critical to build a strong case in order to hold the negligent party responsible for the damage that he did. However, these cases are challenging for even the most experienced attorney, especially since medical professionals are reluctant to provide evidence against their colleagues. This means that it takes time to craft an effective case, but a person may not have as much time as he believes. Every state imposes a limit on the amount of time that a person has to commence the legal action arising out of medical malpractice and Georgia is no exception.
Statute of Limitations
Medical malpractice actions may be brought against doctors, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, hospitals, and other professionals and institutions when one or more individuals acted in a negligent or reckless manner and caused harm to a person who sought care or treatment. There are strict time limits in which to commence a legal case when a person has been harmed because of a preventable mistake made by a medical professional. These restrictions are known as statutes of limitations and when they have run, there is nothing that can be done to get compensation, and justice, for the wrong that was done. Under Georgia law, a person has two years from the date that the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence. (See Georgia Code § 9-3-70 et seq.). This is different from other time restrictions in other jurisdictions that begin to run on the date on which the act or omission that caused the harm occurred. However, there is an absolute date by which the case must be filed, which is five years from the date of the negligent act or omission. This means that a person must act promptly when he learns of the mistake, or potential mistake, in order to preserve his legal rights.
Although the statute of limitations does not prevent a person from filing a lawsuit, it is a certainty that a defendant will move to dismiss an action that is commenced after the time limit has run.
Exceptions to the Two-Year Statute of Limitations
There are exceptions that apply to the two and five-year statutes of limitations. One of the most important exceptions is the one that applies to foreign objects that are left in the body. When a person learns that there was a mistake that resulted in a foreign object being left in his body after surgery or some other invasive procedure, he has one year to bring a legal action, regardless of whether the five-year time restriction has run. This means that if a surgeon leaves a clamp inside a patient, who does not discover it for six years, that person still has one year to bring a medical malpractice claim.
In addition to the exception that applies to foreign objects, there is an exception that applies when it is a minor child or individual with a mental disability who is harmed as the result of a medical professional’s negligence. If the child was under the age of five years when the medical malpractice occurred, the parents or guardian of the child may commence an action up until the minor’s tenth birthday. If the minor was older than five years when the injury happened, he has five years from the date of the negligent act or omission to commence an action.
Finally, courts may exercise limited discretion when the injury was the result of a doctor’s failure to diagnose a medical condition. However, this is based on the unique circumstances of the case and a plaintiff cannot count on it to extend the applicable statute of limitations. If the exception does apply, the statute of limitations is two-years from the date that the person learns of the injury.
Stern Law, PLLC Advocates Aggressively for Medical Malpractice Victims
Medical malpractice can derail a person’s life; when it leads to an injury to a child, many people may be forever impacted. It is crucial to get the right legal help as soon as possible. At Stern Law, PLLC, our attorney has fought for the rights of our clients for more than 30 years. We know that compensation is critical in order to pay bills and receive appropriate treatment, but it also is a small consolation for the traumatic pain and suffering for those who endure debilitating agony as the result of a preventable mistake. In addition to our skilled legal services, we provide answers for anyone who has been harmed, or believes he may have been harmed, as the result of medical malpractice. We have knowledgeable representatives available to respond to questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.