Medical Malpractice

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Injury Lawyers

Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States.  Even using conservative estimates, 9% to 15% of all deaths in the United states are from medical malpractice.  These numbers do not include deaths from overprescribed pharmaceutical drugs, like opioids.  Most doctors are competent, caring professionals. But that does not matter when your family member is a victim of an incompetent or negligent medical professional.  The suffering caused by incompetent medical professionals in Georgia and across the country is simply unacceptable; the failure of state legislators to protect victims and crack down on incompetent doctors constitutes a moral failure.  The Wetherington Law Firm stands up for victims.

 

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice does not refer to intentionally hurting a patient.  Medical malpractice is any treatment that deviates from the normal standard of practice that causes injury or death.  Medical malpractice is never listed on a death certificate.  It always requires a medical malpractice lawyer to establish and prove that the death was caused by negligence.  Our personal injury law firm accepts medical malpractice claims on contingency.  Contingency means that we advance all expenses and you do not pay anything unless and until we win.

 

 

Why You Should Hire a Lawyer If You Suspect Medical Malpractice

Incompetent doctors kill or maim thousands of victims every year.   This fact has been known for at least thirty years.  You might expect these statistics to create a demand for greater accountability and legislative remedies.  For example, as the number of deaths related to texting and driving has dramatically increased, so have civil and criminal penalties.  However, the exact opposite has happened.

“Tort reform” has swept through many states, including Georgia.  This is because of the predatory and exploitative business practices of medical malpractice insurance companies.  Even after paying all claims, medical malpractice insurance companies have obtained record profits over the last twenty years.  Despite these profits, medical malpractice insurers pretend to be poor, charge exploitative insurance rates to doctors, and threaten to stop covering doctors unless legislators make it harder to file medical malpractice lawsuits.

Legislators in most states have been tricked by medical malpractice carriers into passing laws that make it very hard to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a medical professional.  This is particularly true in Georgia.  In Georgia, prior to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, the injured party or their lawyer must seek out and obtain an affidavit from an independent doctor that formally states that the original treating physician or hospital breached the standard of care:

In any action for damages alleging professional malpractice […] the plaintiff shall be required to file with the complaint an affidavit of an expert competent to testify, which affidavit shall set forth specifically at least one negligent act or omission claimed to exist and the factual basis for each such claim.

The Wetherington Law Firm knows the standard of care that applies to each medical profession and can obtain the records necessary for an expert review and properly file your claim.  We accept all medical malpractice cases on contingency, which means that you do not pay anything unless and until we make a recovery on your behalf.  If we investigate a case and determine that there was no malpractice, you are not charged anything for our review.

 

Types of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits We Accept

We litigate claims against all medical professionals in all states.  Our attorneys have successfully tried cases in several states and obtained record verdicts for our clients.  For example, Matt Wetherington served as associate counsel in a five-week medical malpractice jury trial in Fayetteville, N.C. against a large hospital that failed to recognize and report signs of child abuse.  The hospital’s failure to follow established policies resulted in the child being sent back to a dangerous home where his abuser ultimately broke his skull and caused permanent brain damage.  The trial resulted in a $24 million verdict against the hospital.

We are currently accepting the following types of medical malpractice claims:

  • Audiologist malpractice;
  • Chiropractor malpractice;
  • Clinical social worker malpractice;
  • Dentist malpractice;
  • Dietitian malpractice;
  • Hospital malpractice;
  • Marriage and family therapist malpractice;
  • Medical doctor malpractice;
  • Nurse malpractice;
  • Nursing home malpractice;
  • Occupational therapist malpractice;
  • Optometrist malpractice;
  • Osteopathic physician malpractice;
  • Pharmacist malpractice;
  • Physical therapist malpractice;
  • Physicians’ assistant malpractice;
  • Podiatrist malpractice;
  • Professional counselor malpractice;
  • Psychologist malpractice;
  • Radiological technician malpractice;
  • Respiratory therapist malpractice; and
  • Speech-language pathologist malpractice

Most people know that hospitals and their insurers want to save money.  But most victims of medical malpractice are unprepared for how hostile the civil justice system is towards medical malpractice lawsuits.  Our medical malpractice attorneys have the experience and financial resources needed to overcome these obstacles, prove your case, and get the maximum recovery possible for your injuries.

When you hire us to handle your medical malpractice lawsuit, you can expect us to take the following steps:

  • Document important evidence, including the circumstances of the medical treatment;
  • Identify all medical providers and facilities that played a role in the injuries or death;
  • Obtain all relevant medical records –before, during, and after the malpractice event;
  • Identify all insurance policies that may provide coverage for the injuries or death;
  • Work with the top medical professionals in the country to determine the correct standard of care for each defendant;
  • If the victim survives the malpractice, we fully document the victim’s current medical condition and work with the ongoing physicians to understand future medical needs and how much they will cost; and
  • Keep you informed every step of the way.

 

Every case receives a dedicated team of experience medical malpractice lawyers and supporting staff who will keep you informed throughout the case.
Every case receives a dedicated team of experience medical malpractice lawyers and supporting staff who will keep you informed throughout the case.

 

Who Can I Sue for Medical Malpractice?

After a medical malpractice event, there are several potential parties your malpractice lawyer can help recover money from.  Although the specifics vary by state and this is a complicated area of law, the following parties must be considered:

  • The Primary Treating Physician
  • The Employer of the Treating Physician
  • The Nursing Staff of the Patient
  • The Employer of the Nursing Staff
  • The Medical Facility Where the Malpractice Occurred
  • The Manufacturer of the Medical Devices Involved

 

What Must I Prove to Recover for Personal Injuries After Medical Malpractice?

Although the application of the law in each type of case is very different, all medical malpractice lawsuits use the same laws.  To recover for personal injuries after medical malpractice, you must establish the basic elements of a tort:

  1. The existence of a duty on the part of the medical professional or facility to act a certain way;
  2. The failure of the medical professional to act in a manner consistent with the applicable medical standards;
  3. Actual injuries; and
  4. Proof that the injuries were actually caused by the failure of the medical professional or facility to meet the applicable standard.

Proving these elements is extremely complicated.  That is why we have written detailed articles on each of these elements that you can read here.  The important thing for you to know is that the first element, duty, is very import to proving medical malpractice.  The most common ways that medical professionals and facilities fail to meet their duties are as follows:

  • Failing to listen to the symptoms reported by the patient;
  • Failing to review the patient’s medical history;
  • Failing to detect a curable medical condition that results in the death of the person from that condition;
  • Failing to monitor a patient diagnosed with a medical condition, and the medical condition worsens or kills the patients;
  • Treating a medical condition in a manner that is not accepted by the medical community;
  • Amputating the wrong body part;
  • Sexually assaulting a patient;
  • Using the wrong type or amount of anesthesia for surgery, resulting in brain injury or death;
  • Failing to disclose known risks and side effects of drugs or medical treatment;
  • Over prescribing opioids; and
  • Delivering a baby in a reckless or violent manner.

When a medical professional or facility deviates from the accepted standard of care, the provider of facility is deemed “negligent.”  Simply being negligent does not allow someone to successfully file suit against a negligent medical professional.  There must also be harm caused by negligence.  For example, if a doctor fails to tell you a patient that a potential side effect of an acne medication is blindness, the doctor was certainly negligent.  However, unless the patient goes blind, there would be no basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit for failing to warn of side effects.  But, if a negligent medical professional causes harm, the medical professional and the people with oversight over him or her may be liable for damages.

 

How Can You Lose a Medical Malpractice Case?

After being a victim of medical malpractice, proof of an injury does not automatically create liability on the doctor.  People are victims of medical malpractice every day and do not receive any compensation.  Sometimes, a valid medical malpractice claim can result in less money than the injured person expects.  Other times, the entire suit can be lost because of a technical defect in the lawsuit. There are many reasons why people lose medical malpractice claims or the amount they receive is low.  Here are the most common ways that a case is lost.

 

Failing to Bring a Claim in Time Can Result in a Complete Bar of a Medical Malpractice Claim

Every state has strict time limits for when a malpractice lawsuit can be brought.  The deadline generally ranges between six months and three years.  Georgia has a two-year statute of limitation for most medical malpractice lawsuits.  A statute of limitation provides the maximum period of time in which a civil lawsuit must be filed or it is forever barred.  This is why it is important to bring a claim as soon as possible.  The medical malpractice lawyers at the Wetherington Law Firm have NEVER missed a deadline to file a malpractice lawsuit.

 

Failing to File the Lawsuit with a Statutory Affidavit

Many states, including Georgia, require a medical malpractice lawsuit to be filed with an affidavit from a medical professional qualified to testify regarding the standard of care at issue in the lawsuit.  The failure to file this affidavit can result in the complete dismissal of a lawsuit.

 

Failing to Establish a Deviation in the Standard of Care

The failure of a doctor to cure a condition or an unexpected outcome does not automatically mean that the doctor did something wrong.  There are many known side effects and bad outcomes that simply cannot be prevented.  It is important to establish that the doctor actually did something wrong and that it caused or contributed to the injuries or death.

What Damages Can You Recover in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

The main public policy purpose for tort law is compensation. Compensatory damages are money damages awarded to compensate the plaintiff for injuries caused.  The system is not perfect. Life, limb, and freedom from pain cannot be restored.  A doctor cannot lose his license by losing a malpractice lawsuit.  However, compensatory damages can place the plaintiff in the same relative position that he or she was in before the loss by way of monetary compensation.  Compensatory damages are categorized as either general damages or special damages.

 

You Can Recover “General” Damages in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

General damages are “non-economic” losses, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, or mental anguish, all of which have no specific, itemized value.  The monetary value of general damage is determined by the jury, and jury verdicts are not consistent.  Jury verdicts and settlements vary widely, even for the exact same injury.  Failing to monitor an elderly patient, who then falls and breaks her hip could be worth $100,000 in one courtroom, and $1,000,000 in a different courtroom.  Matt Wetherington settled a broken hip case for $3 million You can read about that case here.  The changes in value are due to the individual plaintiff, the people who show up for jury duty, and the effectiveness of the injured person’s attorney.  Here is an example of a verdict form from one of Matt Wetherington’s cases, which shows how one jury valued the “general” damages one of his clients:

 

You Can Recover “Special” Damages for Medical Malpractice

Special damages are “economic” losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, or the cost of hiring permanent in-home medical care, all of which have a specific itemized value and can be calculated on a mathematical basis.  Once you obtain and properly authenticate the necessary records to prove that the expenses were incurred, you can recover money for them.  It is important to note that only medical expenses “proximately caused” by the malpractice itself can be recovered.  If you would like to learn more about how proximate cause is determined, click here.  For simplicity sake, you should know that proximate cause is often highly contested.

 

You Can Recover Punitive Damages in Special Circumstances

Under certain circumstances, victims of malpractice may be entitled to punitive damages.  Most states have the same rules for when punitive damages are appropriate.  In Georgia, the rule is as follows:

[T]he plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care that would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant is liable for punitive damages by a higher standard than that for proof of other damages; that is, by clear and convincing evidence.

The rules for punitive damages can be broken into two parts.  First, there must be a showing that the doctor acted willfully or indifferent to the consequences.  For example, if a doctor intentionally cuts off the wrong arm, he or she would be liable for punitive damages.  Similarly, if a hospital hires an incompetent nursing aid with a history of sexual assault, but never bothers to run a background check, the hospital has demonstrated a conscious indifference and would be liable for punitive damages.  Second, there is a higher burden of proof for punitive damages.  Generally, civil cases must be proved by a “more likely than not” standard.  However, punitive damages must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.

Punitive damages are a complex area of law and the straightforward definition above is only half the story.  In certain cases, there are maximum amounts that can be awarded for punitive damages, in other cases there are additional hoops that must be jumped through.

 

The Victim’s Spouse Can Also Recover Monetary Damages

Medical malpractice does not just upend the life of the malpractice victim.  The victim’s spouse is also impacted.  In Georgia, a married person has a right to recover for damage to the marital relationship.  This is called loss of “consortium.”  A loss of consortium in includes loss of the society, companionship, affection, and all matters of value arising from marriage, including contributions to the upkeep of the home. There does not have to be any direct evidence of these losses, but jurors generally take into consideration the nature of the services and all the circumstances of the case.

 

If the Medical Malpractice Results in a Death, Special Rules Apply

When medical malpractice results in a death, the case turns into a wrongful death claim, instead of a personal injury claim.  To learn more about wrongful death claims and the monetary damages that you can recover, click here.

 

The Wetherington Law Firm Has Recovered Millions for Victims of Medical Malpractice

Our attorneys are highly skilled in medical malpractice laws.  In many cases, settlement is not possible until a judge rules that the proper defendants have been named, the claims asserted are valid, and there is enough evidence to proceed forward to a jury trial.  By that point, it is too late to fix problems in the case.  It is important that you start with an attorney that has the experience and resources necessary to put your case in the best settlement position possible.  If the case cannot settle, you need an attorney that will not settle your case for a low amount because he or she is unprepared or afraid of trial.  Our attorneys have literally spent months in the court room presenting personal injury cases and obtaining record breaking verdicts.  We also have attorneys that have spent years working for defense firms and know the traps that are set by corporations and their insurance companies.

 

How to Hire the Best Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Atlanta

Hiring an attorney is one of the most important financial decisions you can ever make.  You have to get it right.  There are a number of attorneys who hold themselves out as “experts” who have never tried a case or even settled a case involving medical malpractice.  It is important that you ask any prospective attorney about his or her experience with medical malpractice lawsuits, specifically with regard to the medical specialty at issue in your case.

Call or email us today for a free consultation.  If we accept your case, it will be on contingency.  That means that you do not pay anything up front and only pay us if we win your case.  If we do not accept your case, we will help you find a lawyer who can.  We generally only accept cases involving significant injuries.  However, we know many good medical malpractice attorneys and will make sure that you do not have to search around for someone to accept your case.

You Can Make a Lasting Difference in the Lives of Others by Hiring the Wetherington Law Firm as Your Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Obtaining full and complete compensation for our clients is the most important service we provide to our clients.  Protecting the general public and making sure that other people are protected is part of obtaining justice.  We frequently work with law enforcement, local government officials, state legislators, and federal agencies to understand the root cause of dangerous conditions.  This often leads to uncovering dangerous trends or patterns of behavior that must be changed.  Many of our clients have chosen not to be defined by their injuries, and instead choose to serve as a beacon of hope to others.  Whether through legislation, refusing to settle unless changes or made, or simply sharing their story, our client’s efforts have helped save MILLIONS of people from serious injury or death.  If you can help prevent even one other person from being hurt or injured by the same problem, it will help make every day of your recovery a little bit better.  We care about you as a person and will work with you however you want to help make the world a safer and better place.  Call us now to get started.

Have you Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

Call or email us today for a free consultation. If we accept your case, it will be on contingency. That means that you do not pay anything up front and only pay us if we win your case. If we do not accept your case, we will help you find a lawyer who can.

What our clients say about us:

What our clients say about Us:

awards and recognitions

  • Daily Report Hall of Fame 2015
  • Avvo Logo - Superb
  • Super Lawyers On The Rise
  • Daily Report - On the Rise
  • awards
  • Tire Safety Group
  • Gate City Bar Association Logo

Why Hire Us?

Reputation matters. Our firm only pursues high value, meritorious lawsuits. The insurance companies may not like us, but they respect the work we do and results we obtain for our clients. When a case moves into litigation, the defense attorneys know that we have properly investigated the claims, know the applicable law, and are preparing the case for trial.

There is no risk when hiring our firm.

We do not charge attorney fees for obtaining property damage or medical payment coverage for our clients. Other firms charge for this service.

We have saved our clients millions simply by negotiating medical bills and fighting invalid medical liens.

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