Does Georgia Have Caps on Medical Malpractice Recoveries?


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.

If you want to file an Injury & accident claim, contact our Accident Lawyers, who have expertise in Auto Accident, Car Accident, Brain Injury, Personal Injury, Premises Liability,Truck Accident, Police Misconduct and other areas of practice. Call The Cochran Firm Atlanta toll-free at (404) 222-9922, or send us your queries using this inquiry form.

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