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Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyer

A Virginia medical malpractice lawyer can advise victims of medical negligence on their options for recovering compensation. Virginians may file a personal injury lawsuit against any healthcare provider who caused them to experience harm by providing medical care that fails to meet the applicable standard of care. If a medical mistake proved fatal, surviving family members of the deceased patient can also pursue a wrongful death claim against the health care providers responsible for the death. Your Virginia medical malpractice attorney can help you to make your case for compensation so that you will have the best chance possible to recover damages for your losses.

Virginia Laws on Medical Malpractice

In the state of Virginia, all healthcare providers are held to a professional standard of care and can potentially be sued for violating their professional obligations. Virginia Code Section 8.01-581.1 provides an expansive definition of “health care provider,” to include:

  • Physicians
  • Hospitals
  • Dentists
  • Pharmacists
  • Registered nurses
  • Licensed practical nurses
  • Optometrists
  • Podiatrists
  • Physician’s assistants
  • Chiropractors
  • Physical therapists and their assistants
  • Clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, professional counselors, and licensed marriage and family therapists
  • Licensed dental hygienists
  • EMTs

These and other care providers may all be sued in the event that they provide care that falls below what a reasonable professional standard. Virginia law defines the applicable standard as “… that degree of skill and diligence practiced by a reasonably prudent practitioner in the field of practice or specialty in this Commonwealth….” Va. Code, Ann., 8.01-581.20. If a doctor provides care that falls below the level of care that a fellow physician in Virginia with a similar background and experience would have offered under the circumstances and causes damages to their patient as a result, that patient may be successful in pursuing a medical malpractice claim. A Virginia medical malpractice lawyer can help you to determine against whom you should take legal action if you are harmed by a medical mistake.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Virginia

Medical malpractice claims are generally resolved in one of two ways in Virginia:

  • The injured patient or surviving family members agree to a negotiated settlement with the health care provider. The health care provider’s medical malpractice insurer typically negotiates the settlement and pays out compensation. A Virginia medical malpractice lawyer handling malpractice claims can negotiate on behalf of the injured plaintiff and can review settlement offers to advise clients on whether the terms of the proposed settlement are fair.
  • A personal injury or wrongful death claim is presented in court and a jury determines if the plaintiff is entitled to compensation. The plaintiff has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that malpractice occurred.

Under Code Section 8.01-581.2, either the plaintiff or defendant in a malpractice case may request that a medical malpractice review panel review a pending malpractice case at any time within thirty days from the filing of a responsive pleading (i.e. Answer, Demurrer). The panel consists of a Circuit Court judge, a doctor, and an attorney who will render an opinion on the care a patient received. The findings of the panel may be presented at trial or, in some cases, can help to facilitate settlement discussions.

Compensation for Medical Malpractice in Virginia

Victims should be compensated for losses caused by medical negligence including financial losses (medical costs & wage losses) as well as non-economic losses (emotional distress & pain and suffering). If the malpractice case is for wrongful death, family members who pursue a damage claim should also be compensated for financial loss (reasonable funeral expenses, loss of the decedent’s income, loss of services, protection, care, and assistance provided by the decedent) and non-economic losses (sorrow, mental anguish and solace, including companionship, comfort, guidance, and kindly offices). In rare circumstances, punitive damages may be recovered for willful or wanton conduct.

Virginia has imposed limitations on malpractice damages. Code Section 8.01-581.15 establishes the rules for damage caps based upon the date when the malpractice occurred. The current limit for damages as of July 1, 2014 is set at $2.15 million in compensation (the amount will increase to $2.20 million on July 1, 2015).

A Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help

A Virginia medical malpractice lawyer can help you to establish the obligation the doctor or care provider owed to you, and can help you to prove to a jury that the physician or other provider failed to live up to this legal duty, causing you harm. Your Virginia medical malpractice attorney can help you to find experts to testify, to present medical records in a comprehensible way, and to make a strong case for compensation. Call a medical malpractice lawyer in Virginia today to learn more.