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What Is the Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Georgia?

Doctors performing surgery

A medical malpractice claim holds a negligent doctor or other professional financially responsible for the harm they caused you and your family. However, you must file your claim before the Georgia medical malpractice statute of limitations expires. This is a strict deadline that, if missed, could mean your case is dismissed regardless of the validity of your claim. You could miss out on the compensation you are owed if you file late.

At Farah & Farah, our Georgia medical malpractice attorneys will help you understand when you need to file your claim to protect your rights to compensation. Call us at (877) 245-6707 as soon as possible to schedule a consultation and avoid missing your opportunity.

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Georgia

In Georgia, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice lawsuits is generally two years from the date of injury or death. Although there are some exceptions, this means you must file your case for compensation by the second anniversary of the date a health care provider harmed you or your family member.

One main exception to the Georgia medical malpractice deadlines applies to cases involving children. If you miss the deadline, the trial court will likely dismiss your case without considering its merits. This could mean you lose the opportunity to win financial compensation, even if you would have been successful if you filed the case in time.

If you file your case after the statute of limitations expires, you could miss the opportunity to recover financial compensation for medical expenses, emotional distress, and other damages.

Georgia Deadlines for Medical Malpractice Claims Involving Children

A different statute of limitations applies to cases involving children. Under GA Code § 9-3-73, the statute of limitations period cannot expire until the child’s seventh birthday. This means that if your child was injured at birth or any time before the age of five, the statute of limitations period will not pass until after your child’s seventh birthday, even if the case is older than two years.

Our medical malpractice attorneys often encounter this exception to the statute of limitations when we handle Georgia birth injury cases. And while this does allow for more time, it’s not always a good choice to wait. Evidence in cases involving injury to a child is easier to obtain and often more helpful to your claim right after the injury occurs.

Time Limits for Cases Involving Foreign Objects Left Behind

Doctors sometimes leave foreign objects behind after surgery. These objects can be in your body for years before they are discovered. Objects left behind can include:

  • Sponges
  • Clamps
  • Ties
  • Scalpels
  • Scissors
  • Masks
  • Gloves

This is usually caused by human error. A nurse may fail to properly count the items used during the surgery, the surgeon may be tired after a long day, or the hospital may fail to implement procedures to prevent this type of malpractice. 

In these cases, the Georgia statute of limitations is one year from the date the foreign object is discovered. This one-year period permits you to file a medical malpractice lawsuit no matter how long it has been since you had surgery. Many foreign objects are only discovered because of later complications, such as serious infections. This extended timeline protects your rights as a patient and ensures you can still seek compensation from a negligent medical professional.

Georgia’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Repose 

A statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations, but they are not the same. They work together to set a strict filing deadline for cases and limit claims that could otherwise be filed many years later because of certain tolling events. 

The Georgia medical malpractice statute of repose gives a patient a maximum of five years from the date of the injury to file their medical malpractice claim. This limitation means that other statutes or tolling events that may extend your statute of limitations period cannot extend past five years after the date of the injury. 

In cases where you don’t discover your injury until five years after the incident that caused your injuries, it may be too late to seek compensation. However, in cases where you discover the injury after the statute of limitations but before the five-year deadline set by the statute of repose, you may still have the option to pursue compensation from the negligent parties.
If you recently discovered an injury that occurred due to medical negligence, our Georgia medical malpractice attorneys can help you determine the specific deadline that applies.

The Statute of Repose for Minors

The statute of repose doesn’t apply to children until they are at least ten years old. This means that even if your child is injured at four years old, the statute of repose will not expire, even though it will last longer than five years. This extended period is helpful, especially for children whose injuries aren’t discovered until years after birth. This is common for many birth injury cases and could protect your child’s right to financial compensation.

The Statute of Repose for Foreign Objects

The Georgia statute of repose does not apply to discovered foreign objects. For example, if you discover a sponge six years after surgery, the one-year statute of limitations for foreign objects applies, even though this is past the five-year statute of repose. If you discover a foreign object, our Georgia personal injury lawyers can help you work quickly to ensure you file within this strict one-year period.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Georgia

Certain exceptions may “toll” or pause the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Georgia, giving you more time to file. Tolling occurs when certain conditions delay the date when the time limitation begins to apply.

  • Mental Illness or Disability: The statute of limitations may toll for persons with diminished mental capacity or mental illness under GA Code § 9-3-73. For these individuals, the deadline is tolled until the mental condition or illness is resolved, at which time the statute of limitations and repose may begin to run.
  • Medical Records Request: GA Code § 9-3-97.1 briefly tolls the statute of limitations when an individual or their attorney properly requests the individual’s medical records. If the requesting party does not receive the records or a note of explanation from the custodian of the records after more than 21 days, the limitations period will toll until they receive a proper response. This lasts only 90 days, absent a court order extending that tolling period.
  • Fraudulent Acts: GA Code § 9-3-96 tolls the statute of limitations for fraud or deception by a doctor or health care provider intended to conceal their negligence. The statute of limitations will not begin to run until the victim discovers the deception or fraud.

Ask Our Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawyers About the Limits in Your Case

Our award-winning Georgia medical malpractice lawyers have represented clients for over 40 years. Our team knows the intricacies of medical malpractice law and will put that experience to work in your case. We can get real results while you focus on your recovery.

Call us at (877) 245-6707 or contact us online for your free initial case review. We can explain the specific deadlines that apply to your medical negligence case and help ensure you don’t lose your opportunity to get the compensation you deserve.

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