Expert Witness Affidavit Requirements in Georgia Medical Malpractice Cases

Affidavits are sworn statements in writing. Often, affidavits are used in lawsuits as an additional piece of evidence. In medical malpractice claims in Georgia, the court has certain threshold requirements of the defendant’s wrongdoing that must be established in the affidavit in order for it to be admissible. When used properly, an affidavit can provide valuable evidence in support of your Georgia medical malpractice claim and further your argument and credibility.

In a recent Court of Appeals of Georgia case, the court had to consider a medical malpractice matter involving an expert affidavit. The administrator of the deceased’s estate sued the defendant, a medical center, among other defendants, for professional negligence and simple negligence, and argued that the defendant was vicariously liable for the injuries the deceased suffered while he was a patient at a hospital within the medical center system.

With her complaint, the administrator submitted the affidavit of a registered nurse who claimed that the hospital staff was professionally negligent in providing or failing to provide care for the deceased. In response, the defendants argued that the administrator failed to meet the procedural pleading requirements necessary because the affidavit failed to specify a particular negligent act or employee of the defendant and moved to dismiss. The trial court sided with the defendant and granted the motion to dismiss.

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court’s decision and sided with the plaintiff. According to the court, the nurse was not specifically required to name each medical professional whose actions may have been negligent. In her affidavit, the nurse stated her opinion with a reasonable degree of professional certainty that hospital staff had failed to meet the standard of care for the deceased and included medical chronology and citations to medical records of the deceased to establish the factual basis of her claims. Thus, the court claimed, the nurse’s affidavit had set forth at least one negligent act or omission as required by court procedures.

In Georgia, experts who provide affidavits in support of a case are required to include at least one specific negligent act or omission giving rise to the malpractice claim and provide a factual basis for that claim. This requirement, however, does not mean that the expert must name specific individuals or that the expert must prove how the individuals were negligent. Because the purpose of this requirement is to reduce the number of frivolous malpractice suits being filed, rather than to require the plaintiff and expert to prove their case, a reasonable degree of certainty and citations to establish the factual basis for the claim is all that is necessary.

Do You Need a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney?

If you or someone you know has recently suffered an injury or death from a medical negligence issue, contact the Georgia medical malpractice attorneys at McAleer Law today. Our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in all types of personal injury claims and know how to navigate the legal system with ease. To schedule a free consultation today, contact us at 404-622-5337.

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