Georgia Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice

By Jess Davis March 15, 2024 Medical Malpractice

A statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. The purpose of statutes of limitations is to ensure fairness in the legal system. Evidence can become weaker over time, and memories can fade. Statutes of limitations are designed to protect defendants from being sued over events that happened in the distant past. Below is our guide for the Georgia Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice.

Two Years is Standard for Most Georgia Cases

In Georgia, if you are a victim of medical malpractice, you generally have two years to file a lawsuit. This time period starts from the date of the injury or death. This law is outlined in Georgia Code § 9-3-71.

For example, if a doctor makes a mistake during surgery and causes an injury, the statute of limitations runs two years from the surgery date. If a doctor makes a mistake during a surgery that causes the patient to die two weeks later, the statute of limitations runs two years from the date of the death.

Restrained Foreign Object Cases

The deadline for “retained foreign object” cases is a little different. When a doctor negligently leaves a sponge, tool, or other object inside a patient during surgery, Georgia Code § 9-3-72 gives the patient one year from the date the object is discovered to file a lawsuit.

But Sometimes Deadlines Can be Longer or Shorter than Two Years

The normal two-year deadline, however, does not always apply. Georgia Code § 9-3-73 provides an extended cut-off date for filing a lawsuit in certain situations, including where the injured person is a minor or is not legally competent to bring a lawsuit. 

Suing Governmental Entities Can Trigger Shorter Deadlines

An ante litem notice, which is just a Latin phrase that means “before the lawsuit,” is a mandatory requirement in Georgia if you plan to sue a government entity for personal injury. The notice basically lets the government agency know that you have a claim and that you plan to file a lawsuit. Depending on the type of governmental entity you’re suing, you typically have between six months to a year to file the notice. Missing this deadline will almost certainly get your lawsuit dismissed.

The notice must include details like the name of the agency you intend to sue, the date and place of the incident, what kind of injury you suffered, and the amount of money you’re seeking. It needs to be served on the the government entity following specific procedures (usually certified mail or statutory overnight delivery). There might also be a requirement to personally serve a copy.

In a nutshell, ante litem notices are tricky even for the most seasoned attorneys. If your claim potentially involves the government (or a person employed by a government), get an experienced Georgia attorney involved promptly to make sure your rights are protected. 

Speaking with an Attorney is the Safest Option

Talk to a lawyer who knows about the Georgia Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice to find out the right time limit for your claim. It’s complicated, so getting advice from a Georgia legal expert is the best way to get a clear answer.  Call 404.373.8466 or visit us today to get started!