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What is the time limit on medical malpractice claims?

Medical professionals are supposed to be there to make those who are sick and injured better. In most cases, doctors, nurses and hospital staff in Georgia do just that, creating an environment in which a person can heal, whether through medication, surgical intervention or other medical processes. However, it is an unfortunate fact that healthcare professionals are human too, and sometimes they make mistakes. The problem is that when these mistakes occur patients' health can be seriously compromised, and their lives may even be put at risk.

When a medical professional does not maintain a certain standard of care, he or she may have committed malpractice, which can cause injury to a patient. It is possible that individuals harmed by this malpractice can receive compensation through a civil lawsuit. This compensation may help them cover extra medical costs incurred, or help ease some of the pain and suffering created by the medical mistake that injured the person's health.

However, for certain policy reasons, Georgia limits the amount of time a patient has to make the claim that a healthcare professional committed malpractice. This is done through the Legislature passing laws known as "statutes of limitation." In Georgia, a person generally has two years in which to file a lawsuit based on any particular incident of malpractice. There are a couple exceptions to this. For example, if the injury is not immediately apparent, the patient may have two years from the time it was reasonably discoverable, rather than from the date of the incident itself. Also, in the specific case of foreign objects, such as surgical implements, being left inside a patient, the injured party has one year from the date of discovery to file a claim.

Finally, in no instance, except very specific cases involving young children, can a lawsuit be filed more than five years after the alleged incident of medical malpractice. Due to these time restrictions, people who have been harmed by medical mistakes may wish to consider consulting an experienced Georgia medical malpractice attorney very soon after realizing there has been a problem.

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