Category: Medical Malpractice

Negligence law in Georgia

What is negligence law? At Gomez & Golomb LLC, we believe negligence law follows the golden rule, which is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Let’s explain.

To us, negligence is much more than a slick attorney holding a check in a TV commercial or on a billboard. In fact, we doubt those type of attorneys think much beyond making money for themselves.  At Gomez & Golomb LLC, we see our job as making sure our clients are fairly compensated for legitimate injuries sustained because another person or entity failed to act responsibly.

The personal injury cases we handle at Gomez & Golomb LLC all involve negligence. This means the responsible party or entity didn’t intend to harm our clients. Rather,  the responsible party or entity didn’t pay close enough attention to the road, designed a product without enough attention to safety, or provided medical treatment that wasn’t as good as it should have been.

So, what is negligence and why do we all benefit from this system? Long ago, the first laws developed to discourage citizens from intentionally harming each other. Under this system, when someone intentionally harms another, the state prosecutes the responsible person. If found guilty, the state puts the person in jail.

But what about when someone unintentionally harms another? We agreed that it would be unfair to put someone in jail for conduct that lacked intent, but we also agreed that it would be unfair if there were no consequences. As a middle ground, we created a system in which a negligent party wasn’t prosecuted or jailed, but was liable for the monetary damages caused to the harmed party. In other words, we agreed that we are all obligated to act in a manner consistent with that of an ordinarily prudent and reasonable person. Georgia has laws that confirm this principle. See O.C.G.A. § 51-1-2.

In our view, we’re much better off when someone who intentionally harms another is put in jail and someone who unintentionally harms another pays damages. While not everyone agrees with this system, and there is no doubt abuse, the alternative is a society without incentive to act responsibly and without incentive to treat each other as each of us would like to be treated.

Medical Malpractice Affidavits

Sworn affidavit from another doctor required in Georgia

To make sure a lawsuit against a doctor has merit, an injured party must provide an affidavit from an impartial doctor (i.e., an expert doctor) confirming the alleged malpractice of the treating doctor.  Georgia courts have stated that the purpose of this requirement is to “reduce the number of frivolous malpractice suits being filed.” Oller v. Rockdale Hosp., A17A1208 (decided August 14, 2017). From an injured party’s perspective, meeting this requirement isn’t easy. First, getting a doctor to review a case is very expensive. Second, this process requires a doctor to stand in judgment of another doctor, which understandably isn’t something most doctors want to do.

If an expert doctor reviews the facts and medical records, and agrees to sign a malpractice affidavit, the story isn’t over. The affidavit has to be carefully drafted because the courts have dismissed a number of medical malpractice claims due to inadequate affidavits. To overcome a challenge to a medical malpractice affidavit, the expert doctor must allege the following:

  • that the treating doctor failed to satisfy the standard of care for doctors treating a patient under similar conditions and like surrounding circumstances; and
  • that the expert doctor has knowledge and experience in the practice or speciality that is relevant to the acts or omissions alleged against the treating doctor (importantly, a medical doctor does not have to practice in same specialty as defendant medical doctor to be qualified to submit expert affidavit).

Meeting these requirements is a prerequisite for filing a valid lawsuit against a doctor and is a critical part of recovering damages against a doctor in Georgia. Please call us for a free consultation if you been injured due to the negligence of a doctor–we’ll be happy to review your options and discuss how we can help get your claim resolved.