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Medical Malpractice Claims in Georgia: What to Know About Expert Witness Affidavit

When you seek professional medical care, you should not have to worry about being harmed by a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider. Unfortunately, medical malpractice remains a serious issue. In Georgia, patients harmed by medical negligence have the right to seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim. 

Expert witnesses play a key role in medical malpractice claims. Notably, in Georgia, you must include an expert witness affidavit as part of your initial medical malpractice complaint. Here, our Georgia medical malpractice attorney explains the most important things you should know about expert witness affidavits. 

What is an Expert Witness Affidavit?

As a starting point, it is useful to understand the basics of expert witness affidavits. This type of affidavit is a sworn, written statement that is made by an expert within a particular field. It serves as evidence in a legal case.

Know the Law: Expert Affidavit Required to Bring Medical Malpractice Claim

In Georgia, any patient seeking to file a medical malpractice lawsuit must adhere to specific procedural requirements. Among other things, this includes attaching an expert affidavit to an initial medical malpractice complaint (GA Code § 9-11-9.1). To meet the legal requirement, a medical malpractice expert affidavit must include the following: 

  • It must come from a qualified expert; 
  • It must testify to the merits of the medical malpractice case; and
  • It must specifically address the acts or omissions alleged in the claim. 

Georgia’s medical malpractice expert affidavit is designed to prevent frivolous/meritless lawsuits. It requires all medical malpractice claims to be backed by a credible expert before they can move forward within the legal process. Without expert support, a malpractice case cannot be heard. 

Why is Expert Witness Testimony So Important in Medical Malpractice Claims

Medical malpractice cases are complicated. Expert witness testimony plays a huge role in these claims. It is about far more than the initial procedural requirement. If a medical malpractice case does end up in litigation in Georgia, both sides will undoubtedly cite expert witnesses. Here are some key reasons why expert witnesses are such a key part of medical malpractice claims:  

  • Modern Medicine is Highly Technical and Specialized: Imagine trying to understand a foreign language on your own. In some cases, that is what a medical malpractice case is like. Modern medicine is about far more than check-ups and basic treatments. It involves complex procedures, advanced technology, and highly specialized knowledge. An expert witness in a medical malpractice case acts like a translator. They have an understanding of the specific medical issue at hand. 
  • Expert Witnesses Help to Establish Standard of Care: The concept of “standard of care” is a cornerstone in medical malpractice litigation in Georgia. Broadly explained, the standard of care is the level of care and skill that a reasonably competent healthcare professional, in similar circumstances, would be expected to provide. Establishing a deviation from this standard is a fundamental aspect of proving negligence. Expert witnesses are uniquely positioned to articulate what constitutes the standard of care in specific medical scenarios and to identify how the defendant’s actions diverged from these established norms. 
  • Objective Evaluation of Evidence: Expert witnesses can also provide an objective assessment of the medical evidence presented in court. Their impartiality is crucial in ensuring that the evaluation of medical records, test results, and other pertinent documentation is conducted without bias. The objectivity helps to establish the credibility of the evidence, separating the facts from opinions or speculative assertions. 
  • A Compelling Argument of Damages: In medical malpractice cases, quantifying the damages—both physical and emotional—that a plaintiff has suffered is a complex process that often requires expert testimony. Indeed, expert witnesses can be instrumental in explaining the nature and extent of the injuries sustained, the potential for future medical complications, and the impact on the plaintiff’s quality of life. Additionally, in cases where long-term care or rehabilitation is necessary, experts can provide detailed forecasts of the costs associated with such care. 

Who Can Serve as an Expert Witness in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Not just any person can serve as an expert witness in a medical malpractice case. Instead, there are strict requirements that a professional must meet to qualify as an expert witness under state law. Here is the primary requirement: 

  • The proposed expert witness must possess a current and unrestricted license to practice medicine in any state. It is generally best to have an expert who is licensed to practice medicine in Georgia. However, that is technically not required.  

Beyond that core requirement, a medical expert witness should have extensive knowledge and experience in the area of medicine relevant to the case. Most often, this case-specific expertise will be demonstrated by actively practicing or teaching in a specialty area for at least three years. 

An Attorney Can Help Connect You With the Right Expert Witness for Your Case 

Medical malpractice law is extremely complicated. If you or your loved one suffered an adverse outcome after receiving care from a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider, you may have a lot of questions about the procedural requirements. An experienced Georgia medical malpractice attorney can help.

Along with other things, a lawyer will have access to knowledgeable medical professionals who can serve as expert witnesses. They can leverage their network to identify and connect you with the right expert witness for your specific case. Finding the right medical expert at the outset of the claims process puts you in the best position to get results. 

Contact Our Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

At Lourie, Chance, Forlines, Carter & King, PC, our Georgia medical malpractice attorney is standing by, ready to help. If you have any specific questions or concerns about expert witness affidavits, we are here to help. Our firm will help you connect with the right expert witness.

Give us a call now or connect with us online to set up your free, fully confidential initial consultation. From our Atlanta office and our Augusta office, we handle medical malpractice cases all across Georgia.