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If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and you feel medical mistakes caused the disorder, you have the right to sue for medical malpractice. You can also sue if your child has been discriminated against. However, the Georgia cerebral palsy lawsuit filing process can be overwhelming; it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of how the process works.
The best way to figure out your options for legal action and make the best choice is to consult with an experienced Georgia cerebral palsy lawyer. Generally, there are two main types of cases you may need to start on behalf of your disabled child:
- Medical malpractice lawsuit. Start the process of filing a malpractice lawsuit if you believe your child’s condition is the result of a medical mistake. Medical malpractice is when a medical caregiver doesn’t provide an adequate standard of care, resulting in harm to the patient. Each state has its laws governing the malpractice lawsuit filing process.
- Discrimination and disability rights lawsuit. You may choose to file a lawsuit against a person or organization discriminating against your child or denying your child’s rights as guaranteed by law—federal laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.
Do I Need a Lawyer for the Filing Process?
It is vital to have a lawyer representing you as you begin the process of filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit. The right lawyer has the experience and the in-depth knowledge of Georgia law that you need to make the process go more smoothly and ensure the best possible outcome.
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Look for a law firm or a lawyer with this kind of expertise, not a general lawyer. You need someone specializing in disability cases, birth injuries and cerebral palsy, and medical malpractice.
These lawsuits are complicated, and the laws tend to favor the medical profession. Trying to win a case on your own or with a lawyer with limited relevant experience can derail the process.
How to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Georgia
As you begin the process of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Georgia, it helps to understand the steps and what you can expect.
A clear picture of what will happen during this lengthy and complicated process will help you feel more confident in your choices.
Know the Georgia Statute of Limitations
First, make sure you know that there is a time limit. All states set a statute of limitations to limit when you can start a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Georgia gives you two years from the time of the negligent medical mistake to file. If you did not discover the incident until later, you still have five years from the actual event to get a lawsuit started.
Collect Evidence and Find Expert Witnesses
Once you have a lawyer and are sure you are still within the statute of limitations, it’s time to start building your case.
The burden of proof is on you to show that your doctor or other medical professional did not provide you or your child with an adequate standard of care.
You need evidence from medical records, expert witness testimony, and medical professionals who can evaluate and back up your allegations.
File the Lawsuit with an Affidavit of Merit
The state of Georgia lists the requirements for expert witnesses, which is important at the filing stage. With the lawsuit, you must also submit an affidavit of merit.
An affidavit of merit is a document signed by a qualified medical expert stating that your case has value and that the expert opinion is that negligence likely occurred.
The experts your lawyer selects must have relevant qualifications and expertise in the same area of medicine as the defendants.
Discuss Damages with Your Lawyer
The lawsuit will go to the defendants, who must respond within a specific time frame. Once they do, likely denying liability, you will go deeper into the legal process. Part of this is determining the amount of damages you’ll seek.
Georgia law capped non-economic damages, which is the compensation you can recover for things like pain and suffering, disfigurement, or loss of enjoyment in life. However, a trial from 2010 challenged that cap and won, lifting the limit.
Try to Negotiate a Settlement
The first step in trying to recover damages is for your lawyer to negotiate with the other side. Your lawyer will present evidence and try to get as much in damages as possible. The idea is to get a settlement out of court, and many defendants will do this to avoid trial.
Take the Case to Court
Only if the settlement negotiation fails will your lawsuit end in a trial. If you do have to go to court, both sides will have time to gather more information, find witnesses, and investigate. Your lawyer will argue your case and present all the evidence before a jury.
The jury gets the final say in the outcome, although either side can appeal the decision.
The Process of Filing a Discrimination Complaint in Georgia
Your child living with cerebral palsy will face lifelong challenges, including those posed by other people, such as discrimination. Your child may be discriminated against at school or be denied access to public spaces. Your family may face discrimination in housing because of your child’s disabilities.
To take action, you will need an experienced lawyer to help you determine which law applies. Georgia does not have a state civil rights law, so that any legal action will be based on federal regulations.
Your first step in the process is likely to file a complaint, probably with the U.S. Department of Justice. Your claim will be reviewed, but if you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can start a civil lawsuit to get results and recover damages.
Filing a lawsuit related to your child’s cerebral palsy in Georgia can be a confusing process. Get the right lawyer as your advocate, and the process will go more smoothly and have better results for your child.
- Medical liability/Malpractice statutes of limitation. (2014, March 20). Legislative News, Studies and Analysis | National Conference of State Legislatures.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-malpractice-statutes-of-limitation.aspx
- Medical liability/Malpractice merit affidavits and expert witnesses. (2014, June 24). Legislative News, Studies and Analysis | National Conference of State Legislatures.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-malpractice-merit-affidavits-and-expert-witnesses.aspx
- Rankin, B. (2010, March 22). State high court overturns state's tort reform. Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Retrieved from: https://www.ajc.com/news/local-govt--politics/state-high-court-overturns-state-tort-reform/WzhEYW2PMW9EaklB9OwpQK/