In Georgia, you generally have two years from the date of the alleged incident or from the date when the injury was discovered or should have been discovered to sue. However, there is also an absolute deadline of five years from the date of the alleged malpractice, regardless of when the injury was discovered. Therefore, whether you can sue for medical malpractice years after treatment will depend on how much time has passed.
The Two-Year Rule
Every state, including Georgia, has statutes of limitations. These laws set a specific time period during which a person can file a lawsuit or legal claim for a particular type of wrongdoing or injury. When it comes to medical malpractice claims in Georgia, there is a deadline of two years from the date you were harmed, discovered it, or reasonably should have been aware of it. Once this time period has passed, you are typically barred from bringing a legal action, regardless of the merits of your case. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure that legal disputes are resolved in a timely manner, discouraging the filing of stale or outdated claims.
Statute of Repose
In addition to the two-year rule, Georgia enforces a statute of repose. This sets an absolute deadline of five years from the date of the alleged malpractice, regardless of when the injury was discovered. This means that even if a patient discovers an injury more than five years after the incident of malpractice occurred, they cannot file a claim.
Exceptions to the Rule
There are exceptions to these time limits. For instance, if the patient was a minor at the time of the malpractice, the statute of limitations may be extended. If the child was younger than five, a claim must be brought by the age of seven. However, if the child is five or older, the time limit remains two years.
The only exception to the statute of repose (5-year deadline) is cases that involve a foreign object (e.g., sponge, surgical instrument) being left in a patient’s body. Under these circumstances, the patient has one year after the medical error is discovered.
Timely Action is Critical
In an Atlanta medical malpractice case, timely action is not only advisable, but it is often a critical factor in the success of the case. Here is why:
Preservation of Evidence
Medical records, testimonies, and other forms of evidence can deteriorate or become harder to obtain as time passes. Acting promptly ensures that crucial evidence is preserved.
Memory and Testimony
Memories fade over time, and witnesses, including medical professionals, may not remember specific details as time goes by. Prompt action helps in securing accurate and reliable testimonies.
Consulting with medical experts is often vital to building a medical malpractice case. These experts may need time to review records, conduct examinations, and provide their professional opinions.
Medical malpractice cases often involve significant financial implications, including medical expenses and potential compensation. Starting the process early allows for a more organized and effective approach to managing these aspects.
Legal Process Duration
Lawsuits can be lengthy processes. Starting early gives ample time to navigate the legal procedures and ensure that every aspect of the case is thoroughly addressed.
Resolution and Closure
Pursuing a medical malpractice case can be emotionally and mentally draining. Taking timely action means you can work towards resolution and closure sooner, alleviating some of the stress associated with the process.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical malpractice in Atlanta, call or contact Julie A. Rice Attorney at Law, & Affiliates today.