Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia medical malpractice case requiring the court to determine if a jury’s zero-dollar award for the plaintiff’s pain-and-suffering claim was adequate as a matter of law. Finding that the award was “clearly inadequate,” the court reversed the award. However, since the case involved allegations that the plaintiff was also partially at fault, the court ordered a new trial on both the issues of damages as well as liability.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff, who had a history of high blood pressure, woke up one evening with the worst headache she had ever experienced. Later, the plaintiff stated to experience diarrhea and vomiting. After a couple of days, the symptoms had not subsided, and, thinking she had a bad case of food poisoning, the plaintiff went to the emergency room at the defendant hospital.
While at the hospital, the plaintiff explained her symptoms, including her excruciating headache. However, the intake nurse only documented the plaintiff’s gastrointestinal-related symptoms in her chart. Thus, after a short stay at the hospital, the plaintiff was discharged and told to make an appointment with a primary care doctor.
The plaintiff made an appointment with her doctor, but before the appointment date arrived, she began suffering more severe symptoms. She eventually went back to the emergency room and had a CT scan performed, where it was discovered that she had suffered several strokes as a result of a ruptured brain aneurysm. The plaintiff’s condition continued to decline, and she was ultimately rendered completely disabled.
The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the hospital, claiming that hospital staff was negligent in failing to diagnose and treat her brain aneurysm. The hospital argued that the plaintiff was partially at fault for failing to obtain treatment for her high blood pressure.
The jury returned a verdict finding that the defendant hospital was 51% at fault and the plaintiff 49% at fault for her injuries. The jury awarded the plaintiff compensation for her past and future medical expenses. However, the jury’s award contained zero dollars for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the zero-dollar award for her pain and suffering was clearly inadequate and required a new trial on the issue of damages.
The court agreed with the plaintiff, noting that the jury clearly believed the defendant was at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries and that the zero-dollar award was inconsistent with the accepted evidence. However, the court ordered a new trial on the issues of damages as well as liability because issues of comparative negligence were in play. The court explained that it would not be proper to hold a new trial on damages only because the jury would need to determine the plaintiff’s own percentage of fault, if any.
Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?
If you or a loved one has recently been provided with what you believe to have been negligent medical care, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia personal injury lawsuit. The dedicated Georgia personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law have extensive experience representing victims and their families in Georgia medical malpractice cases. To learn more, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney at McAleer Law today.
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Georgia Court Issues Another Opinion Discussing the State’s Recreational-Use Statute, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, May 23, 2018.