Skip to Main Content

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases in Georgia

When you visit a doctor or medical facility, you are well aware that your safety and well-being is in their hands. In most cases, healthcare providers in Georgia provide the highest quality of care in an effort to help their patients. Sadly, this does not always happen. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are human and as such, they can make mistakes. Unfortunately, when medical errors are made, it causes significant harm to patients.

If you have been hurt by medical negligence, you may be able to file a claim against the healthcare professional, or the facility they work for. If you are successful with your claim, you can recover your medical expenses, lost income, and more. Medical malpractice claims are extremely complex and they are governed by many laws. One of these is the statute of limitations, which may seem straightforward, but it can quickly become complex.

The Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Claims

Generally speaking, the statute of limitations governing medical malpractice claims is two years from the date the malpractice occurred. As in all other types of personal injury cases, if the statute of limitations expires you will lose your legal right to claim compensation at all. This holds true even if you would have otherwise won your case.

To many people, two years sounds like a lot of time. Unfortunately, it is not. Medical malpractice cases are extremely complex and they require a full investigation, a great deal of paperwork, medical evaluations, and more. All of this takes a great deal of time and two years can quickly pass. For this reason, it is critical to speak to a Georgia medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible after you have been injured.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

The law regarding the statute of limitations is very strict. Still, as with many legal issues, there are exceptions to the law. In medical malpractice claims, these exceptions are as follows:

  • Foreign objects: Foreign objects are left in patient’s body cavities more often than people would like to think. Sponges, for example, are the most common type of foreign object that are left in patients because they absorb fluid and blend in with their surroundings. When a medical malpractice case involves a foreign object being left in the body, the statute of limitations is shortened to just one year from the date of the incident. If the foreign object is not discovered right away, the statute of limitations is extended to one year from the date of discovery.
  • Minor accident victims: Children who are under the age of 18 years old are not considered to have the mental capacity to file a medical malpractice claim on their own. In these instances, Georgia law usually gives parents the right to file a claim or lawsuit on the child’s behalf. If this is not applicable in a case or the parents choose not to file a lawsuit, the statute of limitations is extended to two years from the child’s 18th birthday.
  • Mental incapacity: It is not only children who do not have the mental capacity to file a claim on their own. When a person’s physical or mental condition prevents them from filing a claim, the statute of limitations can be extended to two years from the time the victim regained capacity.
  • Wrongful death claims: Sometimes, medical malpractice is so severe, the victim does not survive it. In these cases, family members can file a wrongful death claim against the liable party. The statute of limitations on wrongful death claims is two years from the date of death. Unlike in other medical malpractice claims, there is no discovery rule in wrongful death claims. This means even if you learn that a death was due to medical malpractice at a later date, you still only have two years from the death to file a claim.
  • Loss of consortium claims: Loss of consortium refers to when the injuries caused by an accident are so severe the victim can no longer have intimate relations with their spouse. These claims are not filed by the accident victim but the spouse, although they are usually filed at the same time.
  • Fraud: Not surprisingly, medical providers and the facilities they work for do not always admit that they were to blame for a patient’s injuries. In extreme cases, they may even engage in fraud or wrongdoing to cover up their own negligence. For example, they may destroy documents that clearly prove the malpractice. In these cases, the statute of limitations is extended to two years from the date the fraud was uncovered.

The Statute of Repose

Like the statute of limitations, the statute of repose also places a limit on the amount of time you have to file a claim for medical malpractice. However, the statute of repose does differ slightly from the statute of limitations. Under the statute of repose, medical malpractice claims cannot be filed more than five years from the date of the incident, even if the injury or cause of the injury was not discovered right away.

For example, a patient may undergo treatment for a spinal cord injury on July 1, 2023. The doctor may have acted negligently during that treatment and caused the patient harm. The resulting injuries, however, may not appear until July 1, 2027. The patient then has until July 1, 2028 to file their claim because that is when the statute of repose expired.

The statute of repose, as well as the statute of limitations, can complicate the timelines on medical malpractice claims. This is particularly true when an injury appears after the two-year statute of limitations has expired, or the five-year statute of repose has expired. These situations can make it much harder to pursue justice.

Why Taking Immediate Action is Important

If you do not file your medical malpractice before the statute of limitations or, in rarer cases, the statute of repose expires, it will have serious consequences. You will not be able to file your claim, even if it had merit otherwise. If you believe that you or a loved one suffered harm due to medical negligence, it is critical that you speak to an attorney right away. 

A lawyer will get to work on your case right away and make sure your claim is filed on time. Your attorney will also advise you of the other laws that are relevant in your case so your compensation is never at risk. 

Call Our Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Georgia Now

If you have suffered serious injuries or other harm due to medical malpractice, you need sound legal advice. Of all the different types of personal injury claims, these are some of the most complex and you should not go through the process alone. At Lourie, Chance, Forlines, Carter & King, P.C., our Georgia medical malpractice lawyer can guide you through the process, answer all of your questions, and make sure your claim is filed properly to ensure you receive the full and fair settlement that you justly deserve. Call us now or contact us online to schedule a free review of your case and to get the information you need.