Recent Reforms Enacted (since 2003) Eliminates joint and several liability. Upon the request of either party, the court must establish a schedule of payments for future damages exceeding $350,000. Requires expert witnesses to be practicing in the same specialty as the defendant. Requires plaintiff to file an affidavit of merit with each suit. Protects physicians who make any expressions of sympathy to a patient for an unanticipated outcome. Emergency care protection. (2005)
Emergency Care Provision In emergency care cases, no provider shall be held liable unless it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the physician’s actions showed gross negligence. In those cases, the jury must be instructed to consider such factors as the availability of the patient’s medical history, a previous physician-patient relationship and the nature of the emergency.
Reform Elements In Law Joint Liability
Periodic Payments
Expert Witness
Affidavit of Merit
I’m Sorry Provision
Gross Negligence for emergency care
Constitutional Status of Reforms In 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the gross negligence standard in emergency care cases by a 4-3 votes in the case of Gliemmo v. Cousineau.  In a separate case, the court overturned the state's $350,000 cap on non-economic damages.  The court ruled that caps violate the right to trial by jury.
Change in Insurance Rates Mag Mutual reports that rates rose 30.1% in 2003 and 9.9% in 2004.  After reforms were implemented, rates dropped 10.1% in 2001, 4.7% in 2011 and 2.1% in 2012.
Insurance Availability Mag Mutual reports that its med mal insurance market share fell from 66.1% in 2004 to 50.2% in 2012 after tort reforms increased the number of insurers writing policies.
Change in Physician Availability A 2003 study by the GA Board for Physician Workforce showed 17.3% of physicians stopped high-risk procedures during the previous year due to rising premiums. This follows a 17.8% reduction in 2001.
Change in Cases Filed/Awards Mag Mutual reports the number of new claims vs. physicians in 2003 (pre-reform) was 1101 and the number of closed paid claims in 2004 was 702. In 2012, new claims were down to 414 and paid claims were down to 396.
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