What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is different from negligence, which is the basis of the majority of personal injury claims. An act of medical malpractice occurs when a physician or other healthcare professional treats a patient in a manner that is outside of the standard of care that another healthcare professional of similar education, training, and experience would demonstrate. As such, the actions of a dermatologist could not be compared to the actions of a heart surgeon; the plaintiff must prove that the defendant treated them in a way that another doctor in a similar circumstance would not have.
Proving that medical malpractice occurred can be difficult. In Virginia, the law requires that the testimony of a medical expert be presented in order for a plaintiff to bring forth a medical malpractice suit. This testimony is used to both establish the medical standard of care the defendant is held to and to prove a deviation from the medical standard of care.
Who Can Be Named in a Medical Malpractice Suit?
Any party who breaches the standard of care owed to a patient may be named in a medical malpractice suit. This might include a nurse, physician, surgeon, anesthesiologist, psychiatrist, pharmacist, and more. In addition to nurses and doctors, any other party who acted negligently may be named, such as a hospital receptionist who failed to keep proper records, a lab technician, or the hospital itself. If you are unsure of who is to blame for the harm you’ve suffered, contact our law firm. We will review your case for free and help you to understand liability.
Damages Recoverable in a Medical Malpractice Case
While plaintiffs in a medical malpractice action may seek compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses, the state caps damage awards in medical malpractice cases. As found in the Code of Virginia Section 8.01-581.15, “the total amount recoverable for any injury to, or death of, a patient shall not exceed…” $2.35 million for injuries occurring from July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019. The cap increases in the future; for injuries incurred prior to July 1, 2018, the amount recoverable is slightly less.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims in Virginia
In addition to a cap on the amount of damages that a patient can seek after suffering an injury caused by medical malpractice, the state of Virginia also enforces a strict time limit on the recovery of damages, too.
The time limit for filing a claim is two years from the date that the cause of action accrues, as found in the Code of Virginia Section 8.01-243. Further explained in the code, however, is the fact that the two-year deadline may be extended in medical malpractice suits when:
- The case arises out of a foreign object being left within a patient’s body during surgery;
- The case involves fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation which prevented the discovery of the injury within a two-year period; or
- The case involves the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a malignant tumor or cancer, in which case the limit is extended from one year from the date of the correct diagnosis.
How Can Working with a Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help My Case?
The laws for filing a medical malpractice claim in Virginia, and the process of actually doing so and recovering the compensation one deserves, are extremely complex. Working with a qualified Virginia medical malpractice lawyer can be beneficial and improve your chances of winning your case. When you hire our law firm, we can help you by:
- Investigating your case. We open an investigation into your case that seeks to determine liability and establish the standard of care owed to you and the breach of that standard. In order to do this, we hire medical experts and manage 100 percent of this expense.
- Organizing and filing your suit. We have the staff and resources necessary to effectively manage all elements of your claim, including gathering and organizing evidence and documentation and properly filing the case with the court.
- Proving malpractice and damages. Your suit will not be effective if you cannot prove that the defendant breached the medical standard of care owed to you and that this breach was the direct cause of your harm and the extent of the harm you suffered.
- Negotiating and litigating. Finally, our lawyers are skilled negotiators who know how to maximize your settlement. When an out-of-court resolution is impossible, you can take solace in the fact that we are experienced litigators who have a reputation for winning trials.
Contact Schilling & Esposito Today for Your Free Consultation
If you believe that the actions of a medical professional have caused you to harm that you would not have suffered otherwise, you need to meet with a lawyer before it’s too late. You can request a free consultation with the offices of Schilling & Esposito Personal Injury Attorneys by sending us a message directly or calling our law firm at 804-261-1001 today. You can also visit one of our two office locations in person at your convenience.