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Liability in a Georgia Medical Malpractice Claim

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Posted By Legal Team | November 22 2023 | Medical Malpractice

When the very person we turn to for help when we’re injured or ill causes us greater harm, it’s an especially traumatic and frustrating experience. If a doctor or healthcare provider causes injury to a patient due to an act of negligence or omission, the patient shouldn’t be left responsible for the undue financial burden caused by the injury. Some medical malpractice instances cause irreparable harm, catastrophic injuries, or death to the patient.

As in other personal injury claims, in medical malpractice, it’s the victim’s duty to prove negligence on the part of the person at fault by a preponderance of the evidence—which means showing that it’s more likely than not that the medical provider caused the injury. 

If you or a loved one suffered injuries at the hands of a medical professional, it’s important to work with a skilled medical malpractice attorney in Atlanta to understand liability in a medical malpractice claim before moving forward.

The Importance of Doctor/Patient Relationship in a Medical Malpractice Case in Georgia

Before an injury victim can make a successful medical malpractice claim, they must first prove that a doctor/patient relationship existed at the time the injury occurred. For example, if you are seated next to a doctor on the subway and they glance over and suggest you apply hydrocortisone to the poison-ivy rash on your arm, then, weeks later a doctor diagnoses the rash as skin cancer, you cannot sue the doctor on the subway for malpractice because no doctor/patient relationship existed at the time the misdiagnosis occurred.

The medical industry defines the doctor/patient relationship as one in which a “consensual relationship occurs during which an individual knowingly seeks assistance from a physician and the physician knowingly accepts the individual as a patient.” This relationship also exists between a patient and other medical providers such as nurses, paramedics, and medical support staff.

The Special Duty of Care in Medical Malpractice Claims

Most personal injury claims are based on the recognition that we all owe a general duty of care to others to take reasonable measures to prevent causing them injury. However, in a medical malpractice claim, the physician owes more than a general duty of care toward a patient. Medical providers owe a special duty of care to patients, requiring them to treat the patient to the standard of care accepted by the medical community. If they fail in this special duty of care, they are negligent and liable for damages to the patient.

A successful medical malpractice claim hinges upon the question, “Would another reasonable medical professional have treated the patient differently under the same circumstances?” If the answer is yes, then the medical professional or the facility that hired them is liable for the victim’s damages. The word “damages” in a personal injury claim refers to all the consequences of an injury, both economic and non-economic.

Proving Liability in a Medical Malpractice Claim in Georgia

A successful claim for medical malpractice in Georgia requires the injury victim to demonstrate the following legal points of liability for the provider at fault for the injury:

  • A doctor/patient relationship existed at the time the injury occurred
  • The provider had a special duty of care to treat the patient at the standard of care accepted by the medical community
  • They breached this duty through an act of negligence or omission
  • The negligent breach of duty directly caused injury to the patient
  • The patient suffered significant damages due to the injury

Once a case clearly outlines the doctor’s liability, an Atlanta personal injury attorney representing the injury victim can calculate damages and send a compelling demand package to the medical malpractice insurer. Common compensation for damages in Georgia medical malpractice cases includes medical costs, future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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