Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyers Richmond
Of all of the various professionals with whom you interact, you probably trust your doctor the most. In fact, what your doctor says and does may very well go unquestioned by you. After all, the doctor is the expert.
Unfortunately, doctors make mistakes. Sometimes, these mistakes can be very costly for patients—both physically, emotionally, and financially. While misdiagnosing allergies as a cold may be a small matter, failing to catch cancer, operating on the wrong body part, or prescribing you a medication that causes harm to your health is a big deal and needs to be addressed as such. If you have possibly experienced a case of medical malpractice and have suffered injuries as a direct result of your doctor’s actions (or inaction), our Richmond medical malpractice lawyers at the law firm of Emroch & Kilduff, LLP would like to meet with you to discuss your case in detail as soon as possible.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Malpractice occurs when a doctor fails to execute the duty of care that she or he owes to a patient. The duty of care that is owed to a patient is determined by the medical standard of care, which is the standard that a doctor with similar training would demonstrate in a similar circumstance. Virginia law explicitly defines the standard of care as that degree of skill and diligence practiced by a reasonably prudent practitioner in the field or specialty in this commonwealth.
For example, if 99 out of 100 pediatricians agree that a doctor should prescribe antibiotics to a child who is suffering from an ear infection and the one doctor in disagreement failed to do so, an argument could be made that the doctor deviated from the accepted standard of care and duty owed to the patient.
A medical malpractice claim has four elements. They are:
- Existence of a duty of care, which is implied by the doctor-patient relationship
- Breach of the duty of care (malpractice)
- Causation, i.e., the patient’s harm would not have occurred but for the breach
Types of Medical Malpractice
While medical malpractice may occur whenever a practitioner deviates from the standard of care, some types of malpractice are more common than others. Some of the most widespread acts of malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose
- Failure to treat
- Medication errors, including errors in administration, dosage, and prescription
- Birth errors and birth injuries
- Anesthesia errors
- Surgical errors
Of course, the specific harm to a patient who is the victim of a medical mistake depends upon the type of error and the specifics of the patient’s condition. In the event of a delayed diagnosis of a serious illness, such as cancer, for example, the delay in diagnosis means a delay in treatment. This allows more time for cancer cells to proliferate, which may affect the patient’s ability to fight the cancer and his or her chances of survival.
Consider also a situation in which a surgeon leaves a piece of surgical equipment within a patient—an act of malpractice that occurs at an alarming frequency. While the patient may not notice the error initially, over time, the area may become infected and the patient may develop internal complications. This could lead to the need for a second surgery to remove the item and other treatments to address related complications suffered by the patient.
Law Regarding Medical Malpractice Claims in Virginia
If you believe that you have a medical malpractice claim, it is important to meet with a Richmond medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your case in more detail and familiarize yourself with medical malpractice law. Some of the most important laws regarding medical malpractice claims that you should familiarize yourself with include:
- Two-year statute of limitations. The statute of limitations, which refers to the amount of time that you have to file a medical malpractice claim after the date of error, is two years in the state of Virginia. If the injury results in death, then the claim must be filed within two years from the date of death, rather than the date of injury. In the event of a foreign object case, the statute of limitations is extended to one year from the date of discovery of the object.
- Requirement for medical experts. If you want to bring a medical malpractice claim, you must hire an expert who can testify on your behalf. Use of a medical expert is mandatory in Virginia medical malpractice cases to substantiate both the medical standard of care and the defendant’s breach of the duty of care.
- Caps on damages in medical malpractice cases. While damages in most personal injury cases are uncapped, Virginia caps the amount of total damages—including economic and noneconomic—that a plaintiff can recover. Found in Section 8.01-581.15 of the Code of Virginia, the specific cap depends on the date of malpractice. For example, for malpractice that occurred from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, the cap is $2.25 million. From July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, however, the cap increases to $2.30 million.
Our Lawyers Can Help You Bring a Medical Malpractice Suit in Richmond
Initiating a medical malpractice action in a state that doesn’t recognize the discovery rule in all cases (when the clock on the statute of limitations begins ticking from the date of discovery, not the date of harm), that follows pure contributory negligence laws (which prohibit a plaintiff from recovering any damages if he contributed to his injuries in any way), and that caps damages can be tough. At the law offices of Emroch & Kilduff, LLP, we know how to navigate the civil system and pursue medical malpractice actions that result in fair settlements for our clients.
If you are harmed by a doctor or medical professional in Richmond and you have questions about whether you can file a lawsuit, meet with our experienced Richmond medical malpractice lawyers. Not only is a consultation with our law firm completely free, but we also never charge you unless we recover damages on your behalf. We encourage you to reach out to our law firm by sending us an email, chatting with us online, filling out the form on our website, calling us, or walking into our Richmond offices today.