Georgia’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations Laws
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a maximum period after an event occurs that legal proceedings based on the event can be initiated. The period of time is generally determined by the type and seriousness of crime or civil cause for action.
Statute of Limitations: Two Years from the Date of the Accident
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years. This means that you have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit against the responsible party:
“Except as otherwise provided in this article, an action for medical malpractice shall be brought within two years after the date on which an injury or death arising from a negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred.”
Sometimes, you may only realize that you have suffered an injury some time after receiving medical treatment. In some of these cases, the two-year clock starts running once the injury is discovered, allowing you to pursue a lawsuit even if the treatment causing the injury occurred more than two years before.
Statute of Repose For Medical Malpractice
Georgia law also includes a statute of repose for medical malpractice claims, a separate time limit that may affect your ability to file a lawsuit. Unlike the statute of limitations, the statute of repose begins to run from the date of the negligent act, regardless of when the injury is discovered.
In Georgia, the statute of repose for medical malpractice claims is five years:
- “Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this Code section, in no event may an action for medical malpractice be brought more than five years after the date on which the negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred.”
For children injured due to medical malpractice, the statute of repose adds a critical provision. Regardless of when the negligent act occurred, the statute of repose cannot run out until the child reaches age 10:
“After the tenth birthday of the minor if such minor was under the age of five years on the date on which the negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred”
The “Foreign Object” Rule: One Year from Discovery
In instances where a foreign object, such as a surgical instrument or sponge, is mistakenly left inside your body, Georgia law allows you to file a lawsuit one year from the date you discovered the object, without limits set by a statute of repose.
Special Considerations for Children: Age-Based Limits
Regarding medical malpractice involving children, Georgia law offers a unique set of rules for the statute of limitations.
Child’s Age Under 5: If a child is injured before age five, the statute of limitations does not run out until their 7th birthday. This means that as long as the child is under 7, you can file a lawsuit, even if more than two years have passed since the injury or treatment.
What to Do to Make Sure You Don’t Miss the Statute of Limitations
To ensure your medical malpractice claim is not compromised by a missed deadline, consider the following steps:
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible after the incident in order to document your injuries and treatment, which will also help prove your claim.
- Document all evidence related to the injury as soon as possible. This can include photos of the accident scene, medical records and bills, and witness statements.
- Report your injury right away to any potential responsible parties or insurance companies that may be involved. This allows you to initiate the claim process as quickly as possible after an incident occurs so that it is within the statute of limitations.
- Seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer who specializes in cases similar to yours before proceeding with any claims. Do this as soon as possible so your lawyer has time to investigate your claim and help you take the appropriate next steps.
Understanding the medical malpractice statutes of limitations and repose in Georgia is crucial in preserving your rights and exploring your options for legal recourse. If you need assistance, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.