Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What is the Virginia medical malpractice cap, and what does it mean to a patient injured by a medical mistake?

    The medical malpractice cap in Virginia (VA) is a law put in through the Virginia legislature which gives special treatment to healthcare providers like doctors and hospitals when they are sued for medical malpractice. The healthcare industry and insurance companies have very strong lobbyists in Richmond, Virginia (VA), the state capitol. They had a law passed that says that no matter what harm is caused to a patient by a medical error, the patient or her family can only receive two million dollars maximum. If a lawsuit for medical negligence goes to a jury and results in an award greater than two million dollars, then the judge will reduce what the jury thought was a reasonable verdict down to the cap level of two million dollars. This law gives doctors and their insurers an advantage over consumers and patients that no other industry enjoys in Virginia.

    Unlike medical malpractice caps in some other states, the Virginia (VA) limit on damages on a medical malpractice case applies regardless of the economic loss to the person. For example, if your father became a quadriplegic as a result of a neck surgery messed up by a doctor, the most that could ever be received from the lawsuit is two million dollars. This limit applies even if the medical bills, past and future, to provide your dad treatment for the rest of his life costs ten million dollars.

    Another situation that could happen in Virginia, where this arbitrary limit is unfair, is if your husband or wife is killed at a relatively young age when they had a good job that you and your children were depending on to pay the family’s bills in the future. If a physician or a nurse causes a permanent injury and your spouse can never work again as a result, the most you can ever receive is two million dollars, even if an economist estimates that over their work-life expectancy, your husband or wife would have made five million dollars.

    These medical malpractice limits apply in any case where you are alleging that you or a loved one was harmed by a healthcare provider while you or your loved one was a patient of that healthcare provider. The limits even apply to wrongful death cases where the patient was killed as a result of some botched procedure. For example, if your son or daughter dies in a hospital because the anesthesiologist let them die by mistake during the administration of general anesthesia, the cap applies in Virginia for your dead child. It does not matter how much of a loss was suffered by the parents or the brothers and sisters of the child who died, the Virginia legislature has set down what the maximum amount that their life was worth. Rather than leaving it to the jury or judge after hearing the facts about damages in a medical malpractice case, the Virginia legislature has substituted in its judgment without reference to the facts of the medical malpractice, the losses to the family, or the economic harm caused.

    The Virginia medical malpractice cap is, in my opinion as a personal injury attorney having practiced over twenty years in Virginia, completely unfair. It is nothing more than a special favor to the medical system and medical malpractice insurance companies. Ironically, studies have shown that caps do nothing to increase the availability of healthcare or lower the premiums that doctors pay for medical malpractice coverage. The insurance companies just pocket the extra profit.



  • I was hurt in a car wreck, so what is my case worth?

    If you had been hurt in a car wreck and suffered serious injuries, you want to know the value of your case as soon as possible. As an experienced injury and wrongful death lawyer in Virginia, I can tell you that it is a more complicated question than you might think. First just because a lawyer tells you that your case is worth a million dollars don't think that is necessarily the case, especially if a lawyer is trying to get you to sign up with them. An honest attorney should not promise you the stars and the moon just to get you to hire them.

    What I tell people at the beginning of a case is that I don't yet have enough information to know what the value of the case is going to be until I have seen the medical records and bills and find out whether you have a permanent injury which could involve future lost wages or additional medical care. There will come a time when your attorney should show you how they analyze your case to figure out what it is worth in their opinion. That time is not at the beginning of your case,but once the necessary information has been collected and your medical care has happened so that your prognosis is known. You don't want to settle a case one day and find out the next that you still need a surgery for the injuries from the accident.

    Once you settle your case with the insurance company there is no coming back later. So when I get to the point in your case where I'm telling the client what I think of the case value, I want to be sure that I have all the information including what the future is likely to hold for you. The factors that go into the value of the case are many including the amount of your economic losses like medical bills and lost wages as well as the intangible loss of quality of life items which are often called pain and suffering. However, your damages include everything that's happened to you as a result of the wreck from that time until the case is resolved including all of the out-of-pocket expenses, hassles, embarrassment, physical suffering, anguish, and psychological effect of the injury on you. Other variables also come into effect like the venue or court where the case would have to be heard as some jurisdictions are better than others because the juries are more generous with people who are hurt and less favorable to the insurance defense lawyers. In car crashes these days the amount of property damage to the vehicles makes a lot of difference in that the more messed up the vehicles are the easier it is for the jury to believe that the person was injured as an occupant of the vehicle. Finally there are lots of other issues like how bad the defendant's conduct was, whether they were a drunk driver or a big corporate defendant and how likeable and honest the plaintiff, that is you the injured person, will come across to the jury.

     

    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan law firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.

     

  • Are the laws or rules applying to a wrongful death claim different from a personal injury not involving death?

    Yes, there are many different laws that apply in each state.  Most such cases arise under state laws (but some federal laws set forth the rules/laws) and each state provides evidence laws on the types of losses/damages that can even be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit (caused by negligence, carelessness, or violation of a relevant statute/regulation). 

    The state limitation period to even file a wrongful death suit is sometimes different than the statute of limitations for a personal injury suit. 

    Also, many states have laws on who can file the suit for the deceased person.  We highly recommend you obtain a free consultation very early on to protect your family. 

     

     

  • Is the law applying to a car and truck wreck case different from a car injury case and how?

    There are many parts that are the same, but evidence law applying to interstate trucking is vastly more complicated.  For example, federal motor carrier safety laws apply to trucking.  There are many insurance regulations governing trucking.  The law of statutes of limitations usually, not always, is governed by state laws.  Please review our practice area (trucking injury) for extensive discussions of car/truck accidents/collisions.  Our firm has handled major injury cases involving trucks and tractor trailer crashes, for example review our case result section on this website.

    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan law firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.

  • I was never diagnosed with a closed head injury or a brain injury at first-what does that do to my potential case?

    It is fairly common that a brain injury/closed head will not be diagnosed at the ER or even in the first weeks after a wreck or collision.  This alone will not defeat the potential case.  Brain injuries are often missed at first even by trained professionals.  Please read over other discussions we have posted related to brain injury law or case results.  Call us to discuss your questions.

    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan law firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.

  • I was never knocked unconscious, or at least can't be sure I was ever knocked out. I don't even know if my head struck anything. Could I suffer from a brain injury/closed head injury?

    It is well documented that brain injury, closed head injury, and concussion can occur without the skull striking any object, and brain injury is well documented in persons that were never knocked unconscious.
    Memory problems, slight behavior changes, and many other signs, can possibly indicate brain injury.  Please review our website discussions of brain injury cases and case results.  We have worked with top experts in the field and handled significant brain injury cases.  Call us for a free consultation.

    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan law firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.

  • Do I really need a lawyer?

    This is a good question since some cases don't really require a personal injury lawyer. In you're on the fence about hiring an attorney, we totally understand. This is an extremely important decision and there are so many lawyers out there telling you to "call them right away or your claim will forever be doomed." We don't work like that. 

    Part of our job is to help you figure out if you need a lawyer. We do this during a confidential, no-hassle consultation (which can be in-person or done over the phone). If you do not need an attorney, we will tell you and there is no charge for this initial evaluation. 

     

  • How long will the whole process take?

    Unfortunately, there is no simple response to this question. The length of time depends largely on how serious your injuries are, whether or not the at-fault party has insurance, the length of time in between the accident and when you contacted the firm, and so forth.

    We take great pride in being able to resolve cases as quickly as possible while knowing that we have not rushed the process. Our team of personal injury lawyers will help you determine a realistic framework for your case and its particular needs.
     

  • What should I do and not do if I am involved in any personal injury situation?

    Whether injured in a car wreck, on the job, or as the result of other negligent conduct of others, there are a few simple things anyone can do which will help in later investigations as well as the preservation of evidence and memories. The first step in any accident is to assess the presence and extent of any injuries. The appropriate authorities should be summoned without delay in the event of a car wreck (police and emergency medical personnel). You should also make an effort to identify as specifically as possible all eyewitnesses (names, addresses, telephone numbers).

    In the event of a car wreck you should notify your insurance company as soon as possible. You should also obtain photographs of your automobile, if it is damaged, as well as any injuries which are apparent. (If you don’t have a camera readily available disposable cameras are easily available at grocery and drug stores and serve an invaluable purpose in this setting). As soon as practical after the incident have photographs taken of the scene of the incident. When dealing with a car wreck be sure to get photographs of the layout of the highway, controlling speed limit signs, highway markings, traffic control devices, skid marks and gouges in the pavement resulting from the wreck. Prompt and appropriate medical care is probably the most important aspect of dealing with any injuries.

    Be sure you promptly obtain medical from a physician qualified to respond to your injuries. Give the doctor a complete history, including a description of the events which caused the injuries. Keep records of the dates of your doctor’s appointments, as well as the address and telephone number of the doctor’s office. This makes obtaining a complete medical file at a later date an easy task. Most medical offices have business cards readily available, you simply need to obtain a card and keep them together for easy reference at a later date. These simple steps will assist in reconstruction of your wreck as well as your medical care which are essential in the protection of anyone injured as the result of the negligence of others.  Virtually this entire site is devoted to this topic, to please read on.  Review our "case results" and video discussions. 

    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan law firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.


  • Can I afford to get into a lawsuit?

    At our law firm, we handle cases on a contingent basis so that if we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us any fees. We also advance the legal costs for you so that large corporations and insurance companies cannot overwhelm you with experts and other legal tactics. We will also assist you in obtaining all benefits available to you to help you in this difficult time.