What Does a Patient Have to Prove in a Medical Malpractice Case?

Feb 17, 2022

People rely on doctors and medical professionals for treatments, surgeries and other medical interventions. While most doctors provide quality care, medical malpractice can and does occur.

Medical malpractice happens when a doctor or other medical professional like a nurse, chiropractor or physical therapist provides inadequate or improper care due to negligence, resulting in the injury or death of their patient.

Proving medical malpractice can be a challenging and complicated endeavor. There are scenarios where a medical mistake may not rise to the level of an actionable medical malpractice claim. Personal injury attorneys who take medical malpractice cases need to work with training doctors or practicing physicians to establish what a responsible doctor should have done in the scenario in which the injury occurred. They then must prove your doctor’s negligent actions deviated from that reasonable standard, and that the deviation caused your injury. The entire process often requires a significant investment of time and resources.

How to Prove Medical Malpractice in Georgia

Generally, to prove your medical malpractice case, you first need to be able to establish you had a doctor-patient relationship with the defendant. This means you sought medical help from the doctor and he or she agreed to treat you.

You cannot sue a doctor who didn’t directly treat you and your symptoms. If you overheard a doctor giving advice to someone else or watched a YouTube video with medical advice, and you acted on that advice and were injured, you likely will not have a valid medical malpractice case.

You’ll have to prove the medical professional was negligent in how they treated or diagnosed you. This will require you to establish what a reasonable doctor in that scenario would have done. For example, if you were pregnant at the time of your medical appointment and the doctor knowingly prescribed you medication that resulted in a miscarriage, this may constitute actionable negligence if you receive testimony from a training obstetrician who asserts that a reasonable physician would have known better.

You’ll also need to prove that the negligence directly led to your injury. In the above scenario, you’d need to show that the miscarriage was a direct result of the improper medication.

Typically, this requires testimony from a medical expert that supports your claim of negligence. In Georgia, plaintiffs must submit a sworn affidavit from a medical expert to have a chance at winning their case.

Lastly, you’ll need to prove that your injuries resulted in specific damages, like additional medical bills, lost wages, and physical and emotional pain.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

There’s a diverse array of possible health care mistake scenarios that can result in patient injuries, illnesses or death:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Improper medication or dosage
  • Errors in surgery, such as leaving foreign objects in a patient’s body
  • Unnecessary surgery or performing the wrong surgery on a patient
  • Premature discharge
  • Lack of aftercare or poor aftercare
  • Ignoring patient history, allergies or medication interaction risks
  • Neglecting to recognize obvious symptoms
  • Misinterpreting lab results

Not every misdiagnosis or misinterpretation of diagnostic testing rises to the level of medical malpractice. There are thousands of potential ailments, some of which have similar symptoms or test results. It’s necessary to prove the bad medical outcome was a direct result of a negligent lapse in the standard of care expected of a medical professional.

Georgia’s Statute of Limitations

If you’re looking to file a medical malpractice claim, you need to be aware of Georgia’s medical malpractice statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a law that sets a limit on how long you have to file a lawsuit. Typically, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Georgia is two years. This means the plaintiff must file their case within two years after the day the injury or death occurred.

If the consequences of medical malpractice take several years to manifest, the plaintiff may be given more time to file their claim. In such cases, the person may be given up to five years after treatment to file a lawsuit.

Get Legal Help from Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia

If you or your loved one has fallen victim to medical malpractice, you may benefit from hiring a medical malpractice attorney. Proving a medical professional’s negligence caused your injuries or a loved one’s death isn’t always easy. The experienced and dedicated medical malpractice lawyers at the Dressie Law Firm will help you build a solid case and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Call (770) 756-6333 to schedule your free consultation.