Have you been injured or developed a serious or life-threatening illness because of a doctor’s malpractice?
You may be eligible to pursue compensation for your damages, such as the cost of current and future medical treatment of your health issues, lost wages for missed time at work, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Contacting a Richmond medical malpractice lawyer is an important step to take if you believe you were a victim of medical malpractice. The attorneys at Geoff McDonald and Associates are prepared to review your claim in a free consultation. Over more than 25 years serving Virginia injury victims, we have recovered more than $400 million in compensation.
Your free consultation comes with no obligation to take legal action and there are no upfront fees for hiring us to represent you. Unless we recover compensation on your behalf, we do not get paid.
Free Consultation. 866-369-9051
Do You Have a Valid Case?
This is a complicated question to answer because there are many factors involved in a medical malpractice case. That is why it is important to discuss the situation in detail with a licensed attorney.
We need to determine if we may be able to prove the four elements of medical malpractice – it is much more complicated than simply proving a doctor or other health care provider made a mistake.
Four Elements of Medical Malpractice
There are four parts to a medical malpractice claim:
This relationship is established once a doctor provides treatment, which may include things like prescribing medication, scheduling a surgical procedure or referring you to a specialist for testing or further treatment.
Failure to Uphold Standard of Care
The doctor or health care provider failed to uphold the accepted standard of care for your situation. In other words, you must prove the doctor failed to do what another similarly-trained medical professional would have done in a similar type of situation.
There must be a causal link between the doctor’s actions and your injuries – your injuries would not have occurred without the doctor’s action or lack of action.
Damages from Your Injury
Your injury caused damages, such as medical expenses for treating your injury or the aggravation of an existing injury that was not treated properly by your doctor.
If you are unsure if you may have a case, call our Richmond medical malpractice attorneys. (866) 369-9051
Who Can Be at Fault for Medical Malpractice?
One of the factors our lawyers need to review is liability. Doctors are often the ones held liable for medical malpractice, but there are other parties that could be held liable as well:
- Physician assistants
- Outpatient treatment centers
- Medical technicians
- Oral surgeons
Each case is unique so it is important to review the situation with a qualified attorney to determine who may be held liable for your injuries.
We are here to answer your questions about the legal process.
Damages in a Medical Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice can result in economic and non-economic damages, which might include:
- Past, current and future medical expenses
- Bills for surgeries
- Bills for physical therapy
- Medical equipment
- Lost wages from missed time at work
- Loss of earning capacity
- Cost of home modifications to accommodate a disability
- Pain and suffering
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
In some cases, punitive damages may be available, which are meant to punish the at-fault party for egregious negligence or intentional wrongdoing. These damages are not related to any specific damage suffered by the victim.
However, Virginia has strict limitations on the amount of compensation victims can recover in medical malpractice cases. These limitations are explained in §8.01-581.15 of the Virginia Code.
For acts of malpractice that arose between Aug. 1, 1999 and June 30, 2000, the cap on damages is $1.50 million. Each year, the cap increased by $50,000. For acts of malpractice that occurred between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, the cap had increased to $2.40 million.
Many states have caps on non-economic damages like pain and suffering, but Virginia is unique because the cap applies to economic and non-economic damages.
There is also a separate cap on punitive damages in Virginia injury cases of $350,000. Juries are not told about this cap before they reach a verdict, but if they award more than the cap on punitive damages, the punitive damages amount will be reduced to $350,000.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Claim?
Victims of medical malpractice or their loved ones have limited time to file a medical malpractice claim. Generally, the deadline is two years from the date of the injury. If you fail to file a lawsuit within that time, you may lose the right to do so. If you take the claim to court, it may be dismissed.
However, unlike many other states, Virginia does not have a discovery rule. Discovery rules in other states say victims have two years from the date they discovered the injury to file a claim. Victims may not know about an injury right when it happens, particularly in a case of misdiagnosis or a surgical error that takes time to cause symptoms the victim will notice.
Even though there is no discovery rule, Virginia does pause the statute of limitations when a victim is still receiving treatment. This can significantly extend the statute of limitations.
There are other exceptions to the standard two-year deadline:
- One-year extension if a foreign object is left inside the body and has no diagnostic or therapeutic effect
- One-year extension for a claim for failure to diagnose a malignant tumor, cancer, intracranial, intraspinal or spinal schwannoma
When medical malpractice results in wrongful death, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of death.
Since there is limited time to file a claim, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Our Richmond medical malpractice lawyers offer a free legal consultation. Call 866-369-9051.
Advantages of Hiring a Lawyer to Help with Your Claim
Medical malpractice insurance companies and attorneys for doctors and hospitals know victims of medical malpractice are anxious to obtain compensation to cover medical bills and other expenses. That is why they often try to pressure victims into quickly accepting a settlement. Unfortunately, these quick settlement offers are often for much less than the victim’s claim may be worth, especially when you consider future medical bills.
The first settlement offer is probably not the only offer the other side will make. That is why it is very important to discuss the situation with a licensed attorney.
Our Richmond medical malpractice lawyers understand the many factors involved in these cases. We have the resources and extensive legal knowledge to investigate, review medical records, consult medical experts and take other steps to help build a strong case on your behalf. This includes communicating with insurance companies on your behalf.
If you are contacted by insurance companies, be careful what you tell them about your situation. They are looking for information to use against you to discredit you, downplay the severity of your injuries or devalue your claim. You can refer these people to your lawyer, who will be focused on protecting your best interests.
How Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence Are Different
Medical negligence is essentially a mistake made by a health care provider. The mistake was unintentional and may not have been known at the time of surgery/treatment.
However, medical malpractice is a failure to uphold the appropriate standard of care for the given situation. For example, if another doctor with similar training and experience would have given a patient a certain diagnosis, your doctor may be liable for failing to provide the same diagnosis to you. Doctors could also be liable for medical malpractice for failing to perform a surgical procedure or provide some other type of treatment when they know or should know they should provide that treatment.
Common Forms of Medical Malpractice and Their Causes
There are many kinds of medical malpractice claims, but some of the most common involve the following forms of medical malpractice:
This refers to the failure of a doctor to properly diagnose a patient’s illness. This could mean the doctor diagnosed a patient with a disease or condition he or she does not have or failed to diagnose the patient. Failing to properly diagnose a patient could be due to a diagnostic error, failure to refer a patient to a specialist, failure to ask the right questions or even failure to order specialized testing to help identify a disease or medical condition.
This could include providing the wrong medication or dosage of a medication or prescribing a medication that has harmful interactions with other medications the patient is taking. Medication could also be administered incorrectly and cause side effects.
For example, a surgeon could damage internal organs, cause excessive bleeding, leave instruments inside patients, operate on the wrong body part, or cause a severe or life-threatening infection. There could also be a lack of planning, incompetence or performing surgery while drowsy or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Providing too much anesthesia, keeping a patient under anesthesia for too long, failing to monitor a patient while he or she is under are all examples of anesthesia errors that can cause severe problems. Victims could die or suffer traumatic brain injuries that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Brain injuries could be more likely if patients are not provided enough oxygen.
Lack of Communication
When doctors fail to ask patients questions, communicate with staff, talk to other doctors who have treated the patient or make decisions based on incorrect information, serious consequences can result.
If you have questions about whether you may have a case, call a Richmond medical malpractice lawyer today for a free consultation. Call 804-866-8888.
Are Medical Malpractice Settlements Taxed?
Generally, compensation for economic damages is not taxed. This includes compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc. However, compensation for emotional damages that do not stem from a physical injury may be taxable. Punitive damages are always taxable.
This is a complex issue you should discuss with your attorney.
Call a Richmond Medical Malpractice Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Medical malpractice can be devastating to patients’ health, resulting in painful injuries and health problems.
These cases can be very complicated, so you should strongly consider meeting with an experienced Richmond medical malpractice lawyer to discuss whether you may be eligible to take legal action. The legal team at Geoff McDonald and Associates has obtained more than $400 million on behalf of our clients.
Founder Geoff McDonald has tried numerous cases that have helped shape Virginia case law for injury victims. He is also a member of the National Trial Lawyers – Top 100.
The consultation with our attorneys is free and there is no obligation to take legal action if we find you have a case. We also charge no upfront fees for representing you.
Our office in Richmond is just 15 minutes from Johnston-Willis Hospital.