If you have suffered an injury or harmed in any other way as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, Virginia law grants you the right to file a tort claim against them and seek compensation. Establishing liability in a medical malpractice claim, however, can be a challenging task, as you need to establish the standard of care that was expected of the medical professional in question and prove that they breached it.
In order to decide whether you have a strong case against the medical professional who treated you and to determine the value of your claim, an experienced Virginia medical malpractice attorney will consider the following factors.
- Violation of the standard of care
- The extent of harm or damages you suffered
Violation of the Standard of Care
The first thing you need to know about a medical malpractice case is that a bad outcome does not necessarily prove that the medical professional in question was negligent in treating you. Most, if not all, medical procedures carry risks, which means you might suffer an injury or develop a complication even if the procedure is performed correctly.
In order to prove the negligence of the medical professional in question, you need to prove that they violated or breached the standard of care. The term ‘standard of care’ refers to the level of care that a prudent medical professional with similar qualifications and expertise would have provided under the same circumstances. This is the standard against which the medical professional who treated you will be judged.
The standard of care can be established with the help of an expert medical witness (a medical professional with similar qualifications and experience). It should be noted that the defendant (the at-fault medical professional) might also present testimonies from medical experts to defend themselves and try to prove that they did not violate the standard of care.
In such a scenario, the judge or jury will review the evidence presented by both sides and decide which standard is applicable to the case. This is why it is important to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney to handle your claim, as they should be able to choose the right medical expert, present the right evidence, and make compelling arguments to establish that the defendant did indeed violate the standard of care.
Extent of Harm or Damages Suffered
Once your attorney is convinced that you have a case against the medical professional who treated you, they will try to determine the value of your claim by assessing the extent of your damages.
For instance, if the medical professional in question accidentally left a foreign object inside your body during the course of a surgical procedure, another surgery might have to be performed in order to extract the device. In such a scenario, you can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you had to undergo due to the medical professional’s negligence.
If, on the other hand, the medical professional’s negligent actions have left you with a serious complication or a physical or cognitive disability, your attorney will take the long-term effects of the injury or disability into account while calculating the compensation you can seek.
Your attorney will consult medical experts to find out the following.
- Whether the injury/disability/complication you are suffering from is incurable and permanent
- Whether it can affect your ability to perform day-to-day activities like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or going to the bathroom
- Whether it can be considered catastrophic
- Whether it can affect your earning capacity
- Whether it can affect your mental health
- Whether it can affect your qualify of life
Based on the inputs they get from the medical experts, your attorney will be able to quantify the harm you suffered as a result of the medical professional’s actions and determine the value of your claim.
Damages Recoverable in a Virginia Medical Malpractice Case
Under Virginia law, the amount of compensatory damages you can recover in a medical malpractice claim is currently capped at $2,400,000. The amount is set to increase by $50,000 every year until 2031.
It should be noted that the cap applies to the total amount of compensation you can receive – irrespective of how many defendants are involved in your claim. For example, if you are injured as a result of a botched surgical procedure and decide to sue the surgeon and the operating room nurse, you cannot seek the maximum amount of compensation from both of them. Even if both of them are found to be at fault, the maximum amount of damages you are entitled to receive is capped at $2,400,000.
The amount of punitive damages you can seek in a medical malpractice claim is capped at $350,000.
Choose the Right Medical Malpractice Attorney to Represent You
Since 1985, the personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton, & Washburn have helped hundreds of victims of medical negligence and malpractice get the justice and compensation they deserve. We know what it takes to prove the violation of the standard of care in medical malpractice cases.
We can get testimonies from the right experts, present the right evidence, and make the right arguments to establish the liability of the negligent medical professional and fight hard to get the monetary damages you deserve. Call us today at 800-752-0042 or contact us online for a free review of your medical malpractice case.