Here’s a proposal on which the legal, medical and business communities in Georgia should be able to agree.
SR 277, now pending in the Georgia House of Representatives, would initiate a $10 surcharge on car tags to fund a network of trauma centers across Georgia.
Today, Georgia has just 15 trauma centers — hospitals with the surgeons, specialists and technology needed to treat patients with life-threatening injuries sustained on the highway, in the workplace or at home.
These centers are scattered across the state, leaving huge gaps in between. In fact, more than 1 million Georgians now live 50, 75 or even 100 miles from the nearest trauma center. Add to that those who travel through our state each day and even more people are outside of the critical 60-minute window — the “golden hour” — immediately following injury, during which a patient must receive appropriate care to avoid disability or death.
This shortage of trauma centers overburdens the 15 that exist today, which together treat more than 10,000 cases a year. It strains the coffers of the cities and counties that are helping those 15 centers stay afloat. And it makes businesses think twice about locating where employees can’t get the care they need in the event of an emergency at home, at work or traveling between.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce, hospitals and doctors have joined in supporting this proposal. It has not been brought to the attention of the State Bar’s legislative committee, as it is arguably not germane to the purposes of the unified Bar and therefore may not fit within constraints on the types of legislative issues on which the Bar can take positions. However, Georgia trial lawyers should support it too as it is critical to preserving the lives of our friends, neighbors, family members and, yes, our clients, who suffer traumatic injuries in rural areas of the state.
Ken Shigley is author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice and president-elect of the State Bar of Georgia. A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he has been listed as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine), among the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale). He practices law at the Atlanta law firm of Chambers, Aholt & Rickard, and has broad experience in catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, products liability, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Married 27 years, he is the proud father of Anne Shigley and Ken Shigley, Jr.
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