Medical malpractice caps are limits on the amount of money that can be received from a medical malpractice lawsuit, even if the lawsuit is successful. Most of these caps are placed only on non-economic damages like pain and suffering, but a few states have limits on all forms of damages in medical malpractice cases.
Medical malpractice caps are, in some ways, controversial and recent court decisions have affected how Georgia’s caps are enforced. Read on for more details.
What Is the Law on Medical Malpractice Caps in Georgia?
In Georgia, a medical malpractice “cap” has been legislated on certain types of damages from medical malpractice lawsuits. Even after a jury has determined the healthcare provider is liable for malpractice and the plaintiff (the injured patient or their legal representative) is awarded a specific amount of damages, Georgia law adds a medical malpractice cap that limits the actual amount the patient ends up receiving.
Georgia is one of many U.S. states where the medical malpractice caps apply to only non-economic damages caused by the healthcare provider’s malpractice. These types of damages could include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Anxiety or depression
- Loss of companionship
- Permanent scarring
These forms of damages are hard to quantify but impact the patient’s life in significant ways:
- The monetary cap in Georgia for non-economic damages in claims against a single healthcare facility is $350,000
- If more than one facility is found liable in the medical malpractice case, the cap doubles to $700,000
- And the overall cap for a single medical malpractice case, regardless of how many facilities are found liable, is $1.05 million
However: Georgia’s non-economic damages cap was deemed unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2010, so medical malpractice lawsuits filed after that year may not follow this cap at all. And regardless of non-economic caps, there is absolutely no cap on economic damages the patient can receive in Georgia medical malpractice cases.
Economic damages include how much compensation the patient can receive for losses like:
- Medical care (past and future), including medical bills, hospital stays, prescription medications, and ongoing intensive treatments
- Lost earnings
- Lost future earning capacity
- Any other economic damages that resulted from the health care professional’s malpractice
Medical malpractice lawsuits are often very complicated and complex, and there are very specific rules about why constitutes a valid case. It’s very important for any injured patient to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows the process of medical malpractice lawsuits and how caps work.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Anyone in Georgia who wishes to file a medical malpractice lawsuit must understand the strict statute of limitations, meaning how long you have to begin your case before it’s discussed by the court.
Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, a medical malpractice case must be brought within two years from the date when the injury or death happened due to malpractice. The law also specifies that no action for medical malpractice can be brought more than five years after the injury or death from malpractice occurs. This refers to cases where harm to the patient may not manifest directly after the medical malpractice occurs, such as if a patient dies years after they were treated.
One exception exists for this law: If a “foreign object” was left in a patient’s body, the medical malpractice lawsuit must be brought within one year after the medical malpractice is realized.
This might seem like a lot of time, but medical malpractice cases are extremely involved and require lots of time to compile evidence and other information pertaining to the malpractice. For this reason, anyone wanting to file a medical malpractice lawsuit should contact an attorney right away to get the process started.
Talk to a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you need legal representation to fight for your rights. At John Foy & Associates, we’ve been working with cases like this for more than two decades—and we’re here to help. For a FREE consultation to discuss your case and the best options available to you, contact us today. Call us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form to your right for your free consultation.