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Georgia lawmakers study controversial new medical malpractice law

A controversial bill is being considered by Georgia lawmakers that, if passed into law, could change the manner in which medical malpractice claims are managed for the worse. As is usually the case anytime a controversial bill is introduced, arguments against it arise.

The bill, known as the Patient Injury Act, represents an attempt to remove medical malpractice claims from courts, instead placing them into a special administrative system. Opponents of the bill believe that the proposed law would result in more claims plus an increase in bureaucracy and paperwork. Their feeling is that these additional factors would translate into higher taxes and increased medical costs, the opposite of a reduction.

Under the new law, medical malpractice claims would be moved out of the courts and into an administrative system. The new system would be administered by a Patient Compensation Board under the jurisdiction of the Department of Community Health. Board members would be appointees nominated by the governor, the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.

Under the prospective method, a claim would be decided by an independent medical review panel. If the claim is ultimately deemed successful, the patient would be compensated. The State Bar of Georgia disagrees with such a system, stating that the new law would raise constitutional questions about depriving physicians and other medical practitioners of their constitutional right to justice and trial by jury.

The current law is generally believed to exist for the purpose of holding physicians accountable for their actions. A medical malpractice lawyer may be able to help patients who have suffered needless injury at the hands of a medical professional. The lawyer may be able to fully advise the injured person of their rights, options and expectations under the law.

Source: The Republic, "Ga. lawmakers study bill to overhaul medical malpractice system", Christina A. Cassidy, September 24, 2013

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