Like the laws of other states, Georgia law includes a number of limitations on how long a person can wait before filing various types of lawsuits. One of these statutes, in medical malpractice cases, is called a “statute of repose.” What that means is that in a medical malpractice case, the injured person must file suit no more than five years after the medical malpractice took place. If the injured person does not file suit within the five years, then the lawsuit is barred.
Discovery Is Important
Once a lawsuit is filed, the parties usually engage in “discovery.” The term includes sending out written questions that must be answered under oath, requests for production of documents, and depositions. Depositions take place when a person is placed under oath and asked questions before a court reporter. It’s important to get on with discovery in any type of lawsuit instead of putting it off.
Medical Malpractice and Discovery
The need to conduct discovery diligently is highlighted in a Georgia Court of Appeals case called Preferred Women’s Healthcare, LLC v. Sain (2019). In that case, a doctor who was providing prenatal care to a woman performed sonograms that showed a large and complex mass in the woman’s abdomen. The doctor did not include this finding in the woman’s medical records or refer her for further examination. Later, after delivering her child, the woman sought treatment for abdominal pain. The surgeon discovered a cancerous mass that had metastasized. The woman died in 2012.
The Medical Malpractice Suit
The woman’s estate sued the doctor and his medical practice in 2014. But her lawyers did not depose the sonographer who performed the sonograms in 2012 until 2017. Those sonograms included an initial indicating that another doctor had reviewed the sonograms but did not include them on the woman’s medical record, either. The woman’s estate moved the court to add the second doctor as a defendant, but the court held that the estate waited too long. The suit against the second doctor was barred by the statute of repose because the estate filed the amendment to the lawsuit adding the second doctor as a defendant more than five years after the malpractice took place.
Hire The Lawyers at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers
As a result of the delay in discovery, leading to the delay in adding the second doctor as a defendant in the lawsuit, the estate of the dead woman may be unable to recover fully for her death because the estate’s lawyers did not exercise diligence in discovery. Ironically, the estate’s lawyer might well have committed legal malpractice in the course of trying to prove medical malpractice.
Seth Bader is an Auto accident, Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Atlanta, Rome, Savannah, Norcross, Carrollton, Georgia. He graduated from Florida State University College of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years. Seth Bader believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.