The medical malpractice case of Muscogee County former cotton mill worker, Thomas Jackson, lasted for an agonizing eight days, but the resulting $6.7 million jury verdict against a local surgeon may not be as cut-and-dry as it seems. The jury awarded the plaintiff $5.2 million for his medical malpractice claim, and an additional $1.5 million was to go to his wife, Linda, for her loss of consortium claim. A policy limit of $2 million, however, means the man and his wife will likely collect no more than that amount for a hernia repair surgery that culminated in a deadly bacteria infection which almost claimed Mr. Jackson’s life in 2002–all of this according to the Daily Report.
The plaintiffs’ medical malpractice attorney attributes the enormous verdict to fact that the doctor who performed the surgery, absolutely absolved himself of any responsibility. “The doctor’s refusal to accept any responsibility got the jury’s attention, and I don’t think they liked it,” he told the Daily Report. Plaintiff Jackson alleged that the doctor nicked his intestines during surgery and then failed to “adequately inspect Mr. Jackson’s bowel for signs of bowel perforation, specifically including areas of the bowel that he admits were injured during the surgery.”
To make matters worse, it wasn’t until four days after the initial surgery that the doctor returned Jackson to the operating room to repair the injury and even then, it was only at the insistence of a Morehouse medical student who suspected the source of plaintiff’s infection might be his stomach. By then, however, it was too late and the infection had firmly set in. In its own defense, the hospital where the surgery took place, the Medical Center of Columbus, claimed that the doctor’s actions constituted recognized risk on the part of Mr. Jackson, as opposed to medical malpractice, yet it went on to settle with the plaintiffs prior to trial for an undisclosed amount. The doctor stubbornly refused to settle and denied liability up until the very last day of trial. Jackson credits the Morehouse student with saving his life.
During trial, jurors heard evidence regarding Mr. and Mrs. Jackson’s pain and suffering – and indeed there was plenty of it, especially since Mr. Jackson almost lost his life. He underwent several subsequent surgeries to address the infection. He was placed on a ventilator as his organs shut down and his skin began to deteriorate. During recovery, while bed-ridden, he developed bed sores and his muscles and joints hardened to the point where he could no longer straighten his legs to walk. He now has to use a wheelchair on a daily basis. There’s no doubt that the jury found the aggravating circumstances to be astounding.
Although an award of the size conferred upon the plaintiffs in this particular case are not necessarily typical, experienced Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers can see that the Jackson’s attorney clearly met the criteria necessary to win a medical malpractice claim.
1.) He established that there was a doctor-patient relationship.
2.) He proved to the jury that the doctor was negligent and that said negligence caused his client’s injuries.
3.) The injury led to specific damages. For Jackson, the damages were clear. He suffered physical pain, mental anguish, accumulated over $1 million in medical bills. In addition to his lost work and lost earning capacity, the damages were so horrendous that his wife had to quit her full-time job in order to become a full-time caregiver to her husband.
It is important to note, however, that the aforementioned elements suggest a simplicity about medical malpractice cases that just isn’t true. It encompasses a realm of law that is highly regulated and governed by a complex body of rules that inevitably vary from state to state. If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, it is important to seek professional legal assistance as soon as you become aware of the possibility that you may have a claim against a medical professional. A medical malpractice attorney can better help you wade through the complexities in a manner that aims to achieve the best outcome for you and the unique circumstances surrounding your case.