Form of Pleadings
9-11-8. General rules of pleading
(a) Claims for relief.
(1) “Action for medical malpractice” defined. As used in this Code section, the term “action for medical malpractice” means any claim for damages resulting from the death of or injury to any person arising out of:
(A) Health, medical, dental, or surgical service, diagnosis, prescription, treatment, or care rendered by a person authorized by law to perform such services or by any person acting under the supervision and control of a lawfully authorized person; or
(B) Care or service rendered by any public or private hospital, nursing home, clinic, hospital authority, facility, or institution, or by any officer, agent, or employee thereof acting within the scope of his employment.
(2) Form of complaint, generally; action for malpractice. An original complaint shall contain facts upon which the court’s venue depends; and any pleading which sets forth a claim for relief, whether an original claim, counterclaim, a cross-claim, or a third-party claim, shall contain:
(A) A short and plain statement of the claims showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and
(B) A demand for judgment for the relief to which the pleader deems himself entitled; provided, however, that in actions for medical malpractice, as defined in this Code section, in which a claim for unliquidated damages is made for $10,000.00 or less, the pleadings shall contain a demand for judgment in a sum certain; and, in actions for medical malpractice in which a claim for unliquidated damages is made for a sum exceeding $10,000.00, the demand for judgment shall state that the pleader “demands judgment in excess of $10,000.00,” and no further monetary amount shall be stated. Relief in the alternative or of several different types may be demanded.
(3) Sanctions. If the provisions of subparagraph (B) of paragraph (2) of this subsection are violated, the court in which the action is pending shall, upon a proper motion, strike the improper portion of the demand for judgment and may impose such other sanctions, including disciplinary action against the attorney, found in Code Section 9-11-37 as are appropriate.
(b) Defenses; form of denials. A party shall state in short and plain terms his defenses to each claim asserted and shall admit or deny the averments upon which the adverse party relies. If he is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of an averment, he shall so state, and this has the effect of a denial. Denials shall fairly meet the substance of the averments denied. When a pleader intends in good faith to deny only a part or a qualification of an averment, he shall specify so much of it as is true and material and shall deny only the remainder. Unless the pleader intends in good faith to controvert all the averments of the preceding pleading, he may make his denials as specific denials of designated averments or paragraphs, or he may generally deny all the averments except such designated averments or paragraphs as he expressly admits; but, when he does so intend to controvert all its averments, he may do so by general denial subject to the obligations set forth in Code Section 9-11-11.
(c) Affirmative defenses. In pleading to a preceding pleading, a party shall set forth affirmatively accord and satisfaction, arbitration and award, discharge in bankruptcy, duress, estoppel, failure of consideration, fraud, illegality, injury by fellow servant, laches, license, payment, release, res judicata, statute of frauds, statute of limitations, and waiver. When a party has mistakenly designated a defense as a counterclaim or a counterclaim as a defense, the court on terms, if justice so requires, shall treat the pleadings as if there had been a proper designation.
(d) Effect of failure to deny. Averments in a pleading to which a responsive pleading is required, other than those as to the amount of damage, are admitted when not denied in the responsive pleading. Averments in a pleading to which no responsive pleading is required or permitted shall be taken as denied or avoided.
(e) Pleading to be concise and direct; alternative statements.
(1) Each averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct. No technical forms of pleading or motions are required.
(2) A party may set forth two or more statements of a claim or defense alternatively or hypothetically, either in one count or defense or in separate counts or defenses. When two or more statements are made in the alternative and one of them, if made independently, would be sufficient, the pleading is not made insufficient by the insufficiency of one or more of the alternative statements. A party may also state as many separate claims or defenses as he has, regardless of consistency and whether based on legal or on equitable grounds or on both. All statements shall be made subject to the obligations set forth in Code Section 9-11-11.
(f) Construction of pleadings. All pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial justice.
HISTORY: Ga. L. 1966, p. 609, § 8; Ga. L. 1967, p. 226, § 8; Ga. L. 1976, p. 1047, § 1.
DISCLAIMER – Some of these codes have been amended over the years, and they can be amended again by the legislature at any time. For some codes you use the version that existed at the time the malpractice occurred, but for others you use the version of the code that exists at the time you go to trial. We show you these codes for general education purposes, but you should always consult an experienced Georgia medical malpractice attorney before relying on these provisions.
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