Does Georgia Have Caps on Medical Malpractice Recoveries?
Posted on December 24th, 2014 by Admin
As of 2005, Georgia had a $350,000 cap on recovering non-economic damages resulting from medical malpractice. This meant that if your child suffered from a traumatic brain injury or some other devastating disability as a result of a medical practitioner’s negligence, your Atlanta attorney could not recover more than $350,000 in non-economic damages. Pain and suffering is the most common type of non-economic damage pursued in cases, but there are also other types of non-economic damages. The cap hardly seemed fair when extreme pain and suffering was involved.
However, in 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court found the $350,000 cap to be unconstitutional, when ruling on the case Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery v.Nestlehutt. Betty Nestlehutt was a 75-year-old woman who had plastic surgery that resulted in infections and left her face disfigured. Prior to the Supreme Court appeal, the jury had awarded Nestlehutt $1,265,000, consisting of:
- $115,000 for past and future medical expenses
- $900,000 for pain and suffering
- $250,000 for loss of consortium
The defendant appealed to have the non-economic damages (totaling $1,150,000) reduced to $350,000. In reviewing the medical malpractice case, the Supreme Court justices referred to the Georgia Constitution, which guarantees the right to a trial by jury in all its essential elements and that included non-economic damages, as determined by the jury. The Supreme Court found that the statute imposing caps nullifies a jury’s findings of fact regarding damages and thereby undermines the jury’s basic function. Lawyers are now free to pursue uncapped non-economic damages.
If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical malpractice, the Cochran Firm Atlanta is committed to seeing you receive the compensation you deserve.