Medical Professionals Should Pay For Their Harmful ActsAt Emroch & Kilduff, we believe that medical professionals should be held accountable for their negligence and reckless actions. Our attorneys commit our firm’s full measure of experience, expertise, and resources toward making sure victims of medical malpractice get justice. We have a deep knowledge of professional malpractice legal issues and Virginia’s medical Standard of Care Statutes. We understand how to evaluate our clients’ medical injuries and how to overcome the time and procedural constraints that often bar valid claims. Our goal is to protect our clients’ legal interests so that they can focus on the difficult task of healing from an unexpected medical injury.
Our Law Firm’s Medical Malpractice Injury ResultsBecause of a number of procedural complexities in Virginia law, medical malpractice cases often end up in court. While the team at Emroch & Kilduff welcomes the resolution of our clients’ claims through negotiation, we take on medical malpractice matters anticipating we will need to engage in a stringent investigation and litigation process in order for our clients to recover the damages they deserve. As each case is unique, we can never promise a client a particular result. But, we can share our past results as a testament to our hard work and dedication to our clients. A few of our medical malpractice successes include:
- $3 million settlement for surgical error: During cyst removal surgery, a doctor accidentally cut a 50-year old woman’s ureter. After conducting a dye test, the doctor assumed there wasn’t a problem, but the patient manifested symptoms a few days later. By the time another physician attempted a corrective surgery, the condition was beyond repair. The patient lost her ureter along with her right kidney. We settled the matter even though a defense medical expert alleged our client’s condition preexisted the surgery.
- $900,000 jury verdict for traction-related nerve damage: A DEA agent sustained a femur fracture and additional damage when a doctor placed his leg in traction. The traction caused nerve damage that affected both legs and caused a permanent sexual dysfunction. We tried the case and our client received a $900,000 jury award.
What Is Medical Malpractice?Some patients never question their doctors, putting them on a pedestal and above reproach. We understand this viewpoint. Doctors have years of education and training. They’re intelligent, capable people. We need them in our lives. Doctors are also human. As hard as they try and care about their oath to “do no harm,” they make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes harm their patients. Doctors and other healthcare workers have committed medical malpractice when they fail to deliver the minimum “standard of care” to their patients and the patient suffers harm as a result. Some medical acts or omissions may not constitute malpractice. Medicine sometimes requires doctors and other healthcare workers to make nuanced judgment calls that could go either way. Getting those difficult decisions wrong may not constitute malpractice. Other times, however, it’s clear a medical professional has breached a duty of care to the patient. At Emroch & Kilduff, we investigate and litigate claims for catastrophic injuries and death arising from egregious medical errors including:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Childbirth injuries
- Medication errors
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Failure to diagnose cancer and other diseases
- Inappropriate or negligently performed surgery
- Inappropriate or dangerous treatment practices
- Psychiatric/mental health malpractice or negligence
- Misread mammograms
- Misdiagnosis of breast cancer
Doctors May Try to Protect Their ReputationsWhen a patient suffers an adverse health outcome because of something a healthcare professional did or didn’t do, you would hope those professionals would do their best to fix their error and heal the patient. Unfortunately, sometimes reputational and self-protection needs guide their decisions instead. An act of medical negligence often creates an unavoidable conflict of interest. It pits the patient’s legal rights against the doctor’s desire to avoid the consequences of the negligent actions. Those consequences may include:
- Confirmed cases of medical malpractice diminish public trust in the doctor and the facility where he or she practices.
- A confirmed negligent act generates a National Practitioner Data Bank report. The NPDB is a government entity that tracks medical negligence claims and adverse incidents involving medical professionals. NPDB maintains a non-public database that supplies hospitals and other hiring medical organizations with information that could motivate unfavorable hiring decisions.
- Any documented act of malpractice is a ding on a doctor’s professional record. It often diminishes their reputation and increases their malpractice insurance rates.
- A report of medical malpractice may jeopardize a doctor’s medical license and any future licenses should he or she seek a medical position in another state.
- When doctors have legal liability for a negligent act and the damages exceed their malpractice insurance policy limits, they may be responsible for paying the excess amount from their personal assets.
What Injuries Do Medical Malpractice Acts Cause?A few years ago, a Johns Hopkins research study found that medical errors caused an estimated 250,000 deaths each year. Even when doctor errors are not fatal, the wide variety of medical treatment settings and procedures in which malpractice can happen lead to a wide variety of injuries. These may include:
- Injuries from misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Overdose complications
- Accidental amputations
- Brain damage
- Nerve damage
- Birth trauma
- Birth defects
- Disfigurement and scars
Virginia’s Complicated Medical Malpractice ProcessDoctors and healthcare organizations purchase medical malpractice insurance policies to alleviate the risk of a large medical malpractice claim. When an adverse event occurs and the coverage might apply, insurance companies require notification so they can investigate a claim. If a claim investigator or claim attorney determines an insured healthcare professional breached the prevailing professional standard of care, the insurance company ought to settle with the injured party by paying damages. Unfortunately, few medical malpractice cases in Virginia are so cut-and-dry when it comes to insurance coverage. Instead, they commonly involve complicated facts and legal issues, such as:
- If an injured person doesn’t suspect that they have been injured by a negligent medical act, the medical professional responsible may not advise them of the condition or give them any reason to act before a statute of limitations expires.
- If a doctor refuses to admit fault, the malpractice insurance company will likely believe that denial and refuse to pay damages absent contrary evidence.
- Even the insurance company determines a doctor committed a negligent medical act, the insurer may contest the amount of damages.
- Some malpractice policies have a consent clause. This is an agreement that the insurance company won’t make a malpractice settlement without the doctor’s permission. Because of the potential career problems, some doctors never consent to a settlement.
- Some large medical organizations are “self-insured” for malpractice risks, meaning they provide their own “insurance” instead of purchasing it from an insurance company. Self-insured entities often conduct their own liability investigations and decide whether or not to pay a claim. This approach lets medical practitioners control the process and may make it even more difficult for victims to recover.
- Virginia has a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. The clock begins to run as of the date of the injury, except in limited cases where the injury was somehow unknown to the victim. An attorney can help a victim determine if any of these exceptions apply.
- In Virginia, a person who believes he or she is the victim of an act of medical malpractice must submit a claim to a malpractice review panel. In proceedings before this panel, the victim must prove a physician or other medical professional acted outside of the standard of care and such that the professional’s actions were not consistent with those of “reasonably prudent practitioner in the field.”
- Since the information a victim must give the malpractice review panel is, more or less, what the victim would have to prove to a judge and jury, this rule puts the victim and the victim’s attorney of, essentially, proving a case twice. To prove the case before the malpractice review panel, the plaintiff and plaintiff’s attorney must submit documentation from a health expert willing to testify against a fellow healthcare professional.
- If a victim of medical malpractice successfully proves a case, Virginia law currently caps damage awards at $2.35 million, although that figure increases with time.
Richmond Medical Malpractice FAQAnytime you suffer a loss because of an injury, it can have a tremendous impact on your life. When your injuries come at the hands of a doctor or other healthcare provider you trust, the experience can be difficult to process. Unfortunately, medical malpractice happens more often than we would like to believe, and more often than it should. A recent study from Johns Hopkins University found more than 250,000 deaths a year are the result of a medical error, making medical errors one of the leading causes of death in the United States. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury stemming from a visit to the doctor or healthcare procedure, you may seek financial compensation. To learn more, read the frequently asked questions below, and then speak with an experienced Richmond medical malpractice attorney.
I think my doctor made a mistake. Is it malpractice?Doctors are human. They make mistakes. However, not all mistakes a doctor makes qualify as medical malpractice. Instead, medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider fails to provide a patient with the minimum acceptable standard of care expected from a reasonably competent, qualified provider in the patient’s specific circumstances. What qualifies as medical malpractice in one scenario, in other words, may not necessarily qualify as malpractice in another. However, certain mistakes by a medical provider tend to reflect an unacceptable failure to deliver a minimum standard of care, such as:
- Giving a patient the wrong medication or dosage;
- Leaving foreign objects in a patient’s body cavity after surgery;
- Failing to make an obvious diagnosis;
- Misreading lab results;
- Failing to review a patient’s medical history, or to record that history correctly in patient records.
What do I do if I think I have a medical malpractice claim in Richmond?If you believe you have a medical malpractice case, then contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney right away. Medical malpractice matters differ significantly from other types of legal claims involving an injury to a victim. Lawyers for medical malpractice clients must follow specific rules in preparing and proving their cases, which makes it important for victims of suspected malpractice to consult with lawyers with experience in this area. Specifically, Virginia law contains varied time-limits for how long medical malpractice victims have to file a lawsuit seeking damages for their injuries. The sooner you speak with an attorney, the better your chances of meeting important deadlines that affect your legal rights.
What practitioners may be liable for medical malpractice in Richmond, VA?Generally speaking, victims of medical malpractice have the right to file a suit against any healthcare provider whose actions directly resulted in their injuries. Under Virginia law, the providers covered generally include:
- Physicians (M.D.s and D.O.s);
- Physicians’ Assistants, Nurses, and Nurse Practitioners;
- Certified emergency medical services providers (EMTs and paramedics);
- Psychologists (including school psychologists);
- Licensed professional counselors;
- Licensed substance abuse treatment practitioners;
- Licensed marriage and family therapists;
- Pharmacists; and
How can my attorney prove my Richmond medical malpractice case?The law requires a person injured by medical malpractice to prove the existence of an established relationship between the patient and the provider, an expectation of a certain minimum level of care, the provider’s failure to meet that expected level of care, and injuries to the patient as a result. To prove those facts, an attorney needs evidence, such as:
- Your medical records;
- Testimony from witnesses involved in your medical care;
- Testimony from experts in the field of medicine involved in your injury; and
- Documentation of the healthcare provider’s relevant employment, disciplinary, and/or medical history.
What damages am I eligible for in a medical malpractice case?A serious injury can have a major impact on your day-to-day life, causing you physical, emotional, and financial pain. Damages awarded in a medical malpractice case can include compensation for your:
- Medical bills (including future medical costs);
- Present and future lost wages;
- Home modifications to accommodate your injury;
- Pain and suffering, including physical and emotional pain;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of enjoyment of day-to-day life activities;
- Wrongful death; and
- Punitive damages.
Is there a maximum amount I can recover from my medical malpractice case?Yes. Virginia law caps certain medical malpractice damages at maximum amounts supposedly designed to keep medical malpractice insurance premiums under control. The amount of the damages cap increases annually. For the current information regarding limitations of recovery in medical malpractice cases, call us or visit Virginia’s Legislative Information Center.
How much does a Richmond medical malpractice lawyer cost?You will not pay anything for our attorneys unless we get you results in your case. That’s because our lawyers work on a contingent fee basis, in which the fee for their services consists of a percentage of any money they secure on the client’s behalf. Clients do not pay the lawyer up-front or as the case progresses. Instead, the lawyer receives payment only if the client also gets paid.
Contact Emroch and Kilduff Malpractice LawyersIf you or a loved one have suffered a medical injury or complication and you suspect medical malpractice is to blame, protect your rights by seeking the advice of an experienced medical malpractice attorney right away. Virginia medical malpractice cases can be complex and difficult to resolve. Let our attorneys determine if we can help you. Call Emroch & Kilduff at (804) 358-1568 or complete our online contact form. We have offices in Richmond, Petersburg, Tappahannock, and Fredericksburg, and would be happy to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers.
Emroch & Kilduff 3600 W Broad St #700 Richmond, VA 23230 Phone: (804) 358-1568