A lot of Virginians think that being dissatisfied with the outcome of a medical procedure is grounds for a medical malpractice case. In reality, to have a legitimate Virginia medical malpractice case, you have to prove that the reasonable standard of medical care was not satisfied and that you were injured as a result.
If you are considering bringing a medical malpractice claim, schedule a free consultation with the Virginia medical malpractice lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. We will review the circumstances of your injury and outline the most effective approach to getting you the recovery you deserve.
What is a Medical Standard of Care?
The medical standard of care in Virginia is the “degree of skill and diligence practiced by a reasonably prudent practitioner in the field of practice or specialty in this Commonwealth.”
So, the medical standard of care is the level of conduct and performance that are expected of a sensible and mindful medical professional with comparable medical training under the same or similar conditions.
How is Medical Malpractice Defined in Virginia?
According to Virginia law, medical malpractice has occurred anytime an institution or medical professional commits a medically negligent act that causes injury to a patient. Medically negligent acts take place when a healthcare provider violates the standard of care. In other words, care that is below the commonly accepted practices and procedures used by medical providers in a particular field to treat patients with a particular condition or illness.
In a Virginia medical malpractice suit, expert witnesses are frequently used to establish:
- The appropriate standard of care for the situation
- How that standard was violated by the medical provider
- That the violation was the direct cause of the victim’s injuries
What Is a Preponderance of Evidence?
A preponderance of evidence is the evidentiary standard in most civil cases. Using this metric, the burden of proof is satisfied when the claimant demonstrates that their allegation is more likely to be true than false. This standard of proof is less stringent than the standard of clear and convincing evidence often used to establish civil liability as well as the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt normally used to show criminal liability.
In Virginia, the person filing the lawsuit for medical malpractice bears the burden of proof. They must prove their case by a preponderance of evidence.
What If More Than One Party Is Liable?
In a Virginia medical malpractice case, it is possible for more than one medical professional to be negligent. For instance, nurses, physicians, and a hospital could have all committed medically negligent acts that led to the patient’s injuries. In these cases, each defendant can be named in a medical malpractice suit. In some situations, a judge or jury might find every named defendant liable. When this happens, the damages awarded are often increased.
What Damages Can I Claim in a Virginia Medical Malpractice Case?
If the claimant can prove that they endured damages due to the healthcare provider’s breach of care, then damages will be awarded. However, Virginia places a cap on both compensatory and punitive medical malpractice damages.
Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the claimant for their losses, like current and anticipated medical bills, lost income, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and disfigurement.
Punitive damages, on the other hand, are not a form of compensation. They are meant to penalize the respondent and hopefully deter similar conduct in the future. In cases where there is more than one defendant, the cap applies to the overall combined total paid to the claimant. Currently, Virginia medical malpractice caps are increasing by $50,000 annually until 2031, when it reaches $3 million.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me in My Virginia Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice claims are complicated, surprisingly tedious cases that involve expert testimony and countless medical and legal problems.
If you or a loved one were seriously injured due to medical negligence, your best chance of recovering full and fair financial compensation is to make sure you have an experienced Virginia medical malpractice lawyer on your side. Call the Norfolk personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp at (833) 997-1774 and schedule your free consultation. We bring decades of expertise and experience to the table and can tell you if you have a valid medical malpractice case and what damages you might be entitled to.