When a patient suffers an injury, develops a health problem, or suffers in any other way due to the negligence of their physician, they have the right to file a medical malpractice claim and seek damages.
Bringing a medical malpractice case against a physician, or any healthcare provider for that matter, is not an easy task, due to the extensive procedural requirements involved. Also, the standard of evidence you need to provide in a medical malpractice case is much higher compared to the evidence you need to provide in order to establish someone’s liability in a typical personal injury case.
The Procedural Requirements for a Medical Malpractice Case in Virginia
Statute of Limitations
Virginia’s statute of limitations with respect to medical malpractice cases is two years. So, if you are planning to file a claim or a lawsuit against a medical care provider, you need to do so within a span of two years from the date on which you suffered the injury, except in cases where you fail to discover the injury within two years due to intentional misrepresentation, concealment, or fraud on the part of the medical care provider.
Establishing the Relationship between the Plaintiff and the Defendant
The first step in a medical malpractice case is to prove that a care relationship existed between you and the medical professional whom you are suing and that they were responsible for your safety and wellbeing. You can prove it by submitting your bills and medical records.
Review by a Medical Expert
Under Virginia law, the plaintiff in a medical malpractice case is required to get their medical records (appointment records, chart notes, care plans, prescriptions, and so on) reviewed by a medical expert. This is an extremely important step, since it can help you establish the liability of the medical professional whose negligence caused your injury.
Normally, in a personal injury case, a jury or a judge can review the evidence presented by both sides, decide whether the defendant’s negligence harmed the plaintiff in any way, calculate the damages caused to the plaintiff, and award a suitable compensation.
It is, however, not possible in a medical malpractice case, as a jury or a judge does not have the expertise required to review medical records and determine whether the medical professional failed to provide the level of care that was expected of them.
This is why the opinion of a medical expert is essential in a medical malpractice case.
The Duty of the Medical Expert
The expert who reviews your records must be a qualified medical professional who has expertise in the defendant’s area of practice. They are required to assess your case carefully, review the available evidence, and determine the following things.
- Whether the medical professional who treated you violated or breached the standard of care – the level of care that a qualified medical professional is expected to provide under the circumstances. It could be anything – from failing to diagnose a health condition at the right time to misdiagnosing a condition, failing to provide treatment at the right time, or performing a medical procedure incorrectly.
- Whether the negligence of the medical professional resulted in an injury, disability, loss of limb, or worsened your health condition in any way.
Once the expert confirms that the medical professional in question was indeed negligent and that you were harmed by their negligence, you can file a claim and seek an appropriate amount of damages.
The Role of a Medical Malpractice Attorney
The procedural requirements for a medical malpractice case in Virginia, as you can see, are quite extensive. This is why it’s vital for you to hire a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney who has a track record of successfully settling and litigating medical malpractice cases.
An experienced Virginia medical malpractice attorney can assess your case and determining whether you have a prima facie claim against the medical professional, identify the parties that can be held accountable for your injuries, find the right medical expert to review your records, obtain a statement from the expert to support your claims, and file a claim with the insurance provider and seek damages. If the defendant is not willing to settle the case, your attorney can file a lawsuit in a civil court and seek damages.
The personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton, & Washburn have handled several medical malpractice claims over the years and have a track record of recovering substantial damages for our clients. If you or someone in your family is a victim of medical malpractice, we can hold the at-fault parties accountable and make sure you are compensated for your injuries.
If you are in need of an experienced and trustworthy medical malpractice attorney in Virginia, call us today at 800-752-0042. We will be happy to review your case free of cost and explain the legal options available for you.