This page will look at the general laws and procedural rules that apply to medical malpractice lawsuits in Georgia so you understand how your case might proceed.
Georgia is a large state and Atlanta is one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the entire country. So Georgia has a very active malpractice lawsuit docket. We look at what makes a solid claim and medical malpractice settlement amounts in Georgia and how they are calculated.
Settlement Value of Georgia Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice cases have a higher average settlement value compared to other injury cases. Nationally, the average settlement payout for medical malpractice claims is around $300,000 to $380,000. The median settlement payout in medical malpractice cases is $250,000 to $285,000. For malpractice lawsuits against healthcare providers that go to trial and win, the average jury verdict nationally is just over $1 million.
Georgia Medical Malpractice Verdicts & Settlements
Below are verdicts and settlements from recent Georgia medical malpractice lawsuits.
$30,000,000 Verdict (2023 Georgia): A 35-year-old hospice worker with gestational diabetes and preeclampsia was admitted to Clearview Regional Medical Center in Monroe for induced labor. After receiving an epidural, complications arose when the fetal heart monitor was displaced, making the unborn child’s heart rate untraceable. By the time the medical team intervened, the mother experienced an amniotic fluid embolism, requiring her resuscitation and subsequent hysterectomy. Her daughter was born with a severe brain injury due to oxygen deprivation. The family filed a lawsuit against the hospital and involved staff, alleging negligence contributed to these outcomes. They emphasized the mother’s continuous contractions and delayed medical responses as key factors. The defense countered that an unpredictable amniotic fluid embolism was the primary cause. Ultimately, the jury assigned 80% liability to one healthcare entity and 20% to the attending doctor, granting substantial damages for both the mother and child.
$10,500,000 Verdict (2023 Georgia): A symptomatic pregnant woman visited a regional healthcare facility. Despite an evaluation from a medical professional, she was sent home untreated. Tragically, her return to the hospital the following day led to the stillbirth of her twins. The woman hired an Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the healthcare providers and their respective institutions for the premature deaths of her unborn children. The trial concluded with the jury assigning a value of $5.25 million for each child’s life.
$4,360,000 Verdict (2023 Georgia): A well-known singer from Athens tragically died following a simple diagnostic heart procedure at St. Mary’s Hospital. The family’s cardiac malpractice wrongful death lawsuit alleged the cardiologist who conducted the procedure inflicted a tear in Molina’s left ventricle wall during cardiac catheterization and failed to properly address the severity of this complication. The jury awarded $4.36 million in damage after three days of deliberation.
$5,000,000 Verdict (2022 Georgia): Plaintiff suffered acute hypoxic and hypercapnic respiratory failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome with the need for intubation, acute kidney injury, aspiration pneumonia, septic shock, and rhabdomyolysis after anesthesia was administered. He suffered speech and cognitive impairments as a result. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants were negligent in the administration of the anesthesia.
$15,319,500 Verdict (2022 Georgia): A nursing home was accused of medical negligence in allowing the death of a 77-year-old resident from a sepsis infection that developed from untreated bedsores.
$2,350,000 Verdict (2021 Georgia): 74-year-old woman died after doctors at the defendant Emory Clinic negligently intubated her for a prior surgical procedure, then negligently failed to report and communicate findings of the injury caused by the botched intubation afterward. A jury in DeKalb County awarded $2.3 million in damages.
$2,100,000 Settlement (2020 Georgia): The lawsuit alleged that the defendant doctors and hospital were negligent in failing timely diagnose and treat a woman’s cancer. Specifically, the defendants failed to properly interpret and respond to abnormal pap smear results which would have led to a timely diagnosis of cancer.
$4,700,000 Verdict (2018 Georgia): An adult woman, died of liver failure due to mixed hepatocellular and cholestatic injury induced by the drug Ketoconazole, which had been prescribed for the decedent to treat nail fungus by the defendant family practitioner. The lawsuit claimed that the defendant failed to comply with the applicable standard of care by prescribing Ketoconazole to the decedent for 19 weeks without properly monitoring her liver function during that time.
$20,509,284 Verdict (2016 Georgia): 25-year-old mentally disabled male with a history of cardiomyopathy and orthopnea, died of sudden cardiac death due to cardiomyopathy while undergoing a sleep study at a sleep center run by the defendant Emory University Hospital. His family hired an Atlanta malpractice attorney who file a suit that alleged that the defendant was negligent in failing to properly and timely respond to signs of distress.
Georgia Medical Malpractice Laws
Below is a summary of the key laws and procedural rules in Georgia that apply specifically to medical malpractice cases.
What is Medical Malpractice in Georgia?
Medical malpractice under Georgia law occurs when a licensed healthcare provider renders negligent or inappropriate medical care that results in injury to the patient. Unlike many other types of professional negligence, medical malpractice usually results in very serious, life-altering consequences.
When medical negligence causes physical harm or death, it cannot be undone. However, our civil justice system allows victims of medical malpractice to get financial compensation for the harm they suffered.
Proving Medical Malpractice in Georgia
To prove medical malpractice in a Georgia lawsuit, a plaintiff needs to prove 2 basic elements:
(1) the healthcare provider gave negligent care that fell below accepted medical standards, and
(2) the plaintiff suffered physical injuries or death as a direct result of that negligent medical care.
Proving both these elements is a complex and expensive process. The plaintiff needs to get other doctors or healthcare providers to agree to act as expert witnesses. Getting an opinion from another doctor that your case is valid is just the first step and does not guarantee success. The defendants will present their experts who will say that the doctors did nothing wrong and your claims have no merit.
Georgia Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases
If you are considering a medical malpractice lawsuit in Georgia, you need to be aware of the statute of limitations which sets a strict deadline on how long plaintiffs can wait before filing a claim. Georgia has a 2-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. Ga. Code § 9-3-71.
Under this statute, a medical malpractice case must be filed within 2 years of the date of the injury allegedly caused by medical negligence or 2-years of the date that the plaintiff reasonably should have discovered the injury.
Georgia 5-Year Statute of Repose for Medical Malpractice
Georgia also has a 5-year statute of repose that applies to medical malpractice lawsuits. This is an absolute maximum deadline that applies over and above the 2-year statute of limitations. Under the statute of repose, all malpractice claims must be filed within 5 years of the date of the injury caused by medical negligence, regardless of when the injury was discovered.
Statute of Limitations for Georgia Birth Injury Cases
Georgia has a special statute of limitations that applies to malpractice cases in which the patient is under 5 years old at the time of the injury. This is mostly applicable to Georgia birth injury cases. When the child is under 5 years old at the time of the malpractice, the medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed by the child’s 7th birthday. If the injury was not discoverable by their 7th birthday, they have under their 10th birthday to file.
Expert Affidavit Required for Georgia Medical Malpractice Cases
Under Georgia law (Ga. Code § 9-11-9.1), all medical malpractice lawsuits must be supported by an affidavit from a qualified medical expert (i.e., a doctor of the same specialty as the defendant). The affidavit must state that the expert has reviewed the facts of the case, and in his or her opinion there is evidence of medical negligence. If the expert affidavit is not filed with the complaint, the case will be dismissed.
No Cap on Damages in Georgia Malpractice Cases
The Georgia legislature previously passed a law imposing a maximum cap on the amount of non-economic (pain & suffering) damages that could be awarded in medical malpractice cases. In 2010, however, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down that law because it violated the state constitution. (See Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery, P.C. v. Nestlehutt, 691 S.E.2d 218 (2010)) As a result, there is currently no cap limiting the amount of pain and suffering damages for medical malpractice cases in Georgia.
Georgia Follows Modified Comparative Fault
In medical malpractice cases in which the plaintiff’s own negligence is partly to blame for their injuries, Georgia courts apply the legal rule known as modified comparative fault. Under comparative fault, a plaintiff’s damages are reduced by their percentage share of fault. So if a plaintiff is found to be 10% at fault for their own injuries, their damages would be reduced by 10%.
Under the modified version of comparative fault adopted in Georgia, if a plaintiff’s share of fault exceeds 50%, then they are totally barred from recovering any damages.
Contact Miller & Zois About Georgia Medical Malpractice Cases
Contact Miller & Zois today for a free consultation about potential medical malpractice cases in Georgia. Call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.