How Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Work?
Any time a medical professional fails to comply with the accepted “standard of care,” he or she may be guilty of medical malpractice. The standard of care refers to what a reasonable doctor, nurse, pharmacist, hospital, or other health care provider would do, given the same set of circumstances. When a health care provider fails to follow this standard of care and injury or death is the result, the health care provider can be held liable for the harm and can be compelled to compensate the victim for lost wages, reimbursement for medical expenses, pain, and suffering, and other damages.
What is the Burden of Proof in a Medical Malpractice Claim?In the state of Virginia, the plaintiff in a medical malpractice claim must show what a reasonable standard of care would have been, that his or her health care provider failed to comply with this standard of care, that injuries or death resulted from this lack of a reasonable standard of care, and what those personal injuries and damages actually were.
What are the Statutes of Limitations in the State of Virginia for Medical Malpractice?In the state of Virginia, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is two years from the date of the injury, in most cases. If a wrongful death occurred as a result of medical malpractice, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the executor or administrator of the estate within two years of the death. If a child under the age of 8 is a victim of medical malpractice, the statutes are a bit more flexible; the child has until his or her 10th birthday to file a medical malpractice claim. The “continuing treatment rule” also extends the statute of limitations in medical malpractice claims. If there has been a significantly uninterrupted treatment for the same condition by the health care provider, the lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of the last treatment.
What The Types of Damages for Malpractice Claims?There are many different types of damages a victim of medical malpractice may claim, including the following:
- Compensatory damages are meant to award the victim actual costs resulting from the in injuries, such as medical costs (hospital costs, prescription drug costs, costs for rehabilitative therapies and surgical procedures, doctor visits, etc.) and lost wages, both current and future (should the victim be unable to return to work).
- Non-economic damages are meant to award the victim for more intangible costs, such as pain and suffering.
- Occasionally, if a doctor or other health care provider has acted in a particularly egregious manner, willfully or maliciously harming the victim, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages are meant to punish the medical provider for reckless behavior and to deter such behavior among other health care professionals in the future.