The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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What happens if medical instruments are not sanitized properly?
It is critical for any medical instruments being used on a patient to be properly sanitized. Failure of this procedure can lead to cross-contamination of infections and diseases from patient to patient, causing serious illness and even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all surgical instruments be brought to a central facility to be sanitized, not in the medical facility itself.
What happens if I miss Virginia’s statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim?
Before you assume you have waited too long to file a medical malpractice claim, consult a Virginia plaintiff’s attorney. The date on which the usual two-year statute of limitations clock starts ticking is different for every case. Note, as well, that Virginia sets special statutes of limitations on medical malpractice claims on behalf of infants who suffer birth injuries and for children who are under 18 years of age when an alleged medical error occurs. Contact us for more information.
Depending on what happened to you, the date from which you needed to take legal action could be the day on which a medical error occurred, the day on which symptoms caused by a medical error became disabling or the day you learned a medical error harmed you. Additionally, the standard two-year medical malpractice statute of limitations can be extended to three years when the case involves a missed cancer diagnosis, an object left in your body following surgery, or fraud intended to cover up a medical error.
Why does Virginia impose a statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims?
Succeeding with a claim for a preventable injury or wrongful death requires presenting a great deal of evidence that can be lost, destroyed or damaged as time passes. This is especially true with medical malpractice claims, which can depend on biological samples and paper records and notes that health care practitioners and facilities cannot keep forever.
Additionally, memories fade, people move or pass away, and drawing a direct connection between a medical mistake and an adverse health outcome becomes impossible after a certain time. Essential testimony will not be available if a patient waits too long to file a malpractice claim. Even more importantly, waiting too long will give the defendants in a medical malpractice stronger grounds for arguing that the patient’s current health problem resulted from some cause other than alleged negligence.
What is the statute of limitations on a medical malpractice claim in Virginia?
Generally, a patient who is harmed by a health care provider’s negligence in Virginia has two years to file a medical malpractice claim. Similarly, a family member or estate/legal executor for a person who gets killed by a medical error has two years to file a wrongful death claim.
As spelled out in section 8.01-243 of the Virginia Code, an extension to the 24-month statute of limitations can be granted when the case involves
- A foreign object left inside a patient’s body;
- “Fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation prevent[ing] discovery of the injury within the two-year period”; or
- A missed cancer diagnosis,
Depending on the facts of the case, the clock on the medical malpractice statute of limitations starts ticking on the day of the medical error, the day when the victim discovered the medical error, or the day on which health problems brought on by the medical error became disabling. Consulting with an experienced Virginia medical malpractice attorney will help you determine if your possible case falls within the statute of limitations.
Note, as well, that Virginia sets special statutes of limitations on medical malpractice claims on behalf of infants and children who are under 18 when an alleged medical error occurs. Contact us for more information.
When can I file a medical malpractice claim in Virginia?
You can file a medical malpractice claim in Virginia when
- A health care provider or health care facility fails to meet the standard of care due to you as its patient,
- You suffer an identifiable harm as a result of that failure to meet the standard of care, and
- Violating the standard of care constitutes an act of negligence.
Except in very limited circumstance, you must also file your medical malpractice insurance claim or civil lawsuit within two years of the date on which the act of medical negligence occurred.
Determining which standard of care applies requires analyzing several factors, including your health, the specialty and job duties of the health care provider, the type of health care facility, existing laws and regulations, and knowing what most other health care providers practicing in a similar facility and treating a similar patient would do. Consulting with an experienced Virginia medical malpractice attorney will help you figure out whether you have grounds for taking legal action.
When does signing a consent form prevent me from filing a medical malpractice claim?
A properly written consent form will protect a health care provider and health care facility only from medical malpractice claims based on procedures and complications that are clearly described in the form.
A patient, or a patient’s family member, may still have grounds for submitting a medical malpractice insurance claim or civil lawsuit if the harm resulted from a procedure or complication that was not disclosed in the consent form. Also, health care providers and health care facilities that act negligently or fail to comply with applicable regulation can face medical malpractice claims no matter what a consent form says.
I signed a consent form. Can I still file a medical malpractice claim?
A signed consent form only protects a health care provider or medical facility from insurance claims or civil lawsuits based on the procedures and potential complications identified in the consent form.
A patient, or a patient’s family member, still has grounds for filing medical malpractice claims when harm results from an act of medical negligence.
In practical terms, no one can give informed consent to experiencing a misdiagnosis due to a failure to follow standard procedures, a surgical error, a prescription drug error or a regulatory violation. Doctors, nurses, dentists, surgeons, pharmacists, hospitals, clinics and nursing homes cannot be excused for negligently inflicting harm.
What should I do if my elderly loved one was possibly abused in a nursing home?
Talk to a Virginia nursing home abuse attorney to determine your legal options. Many nursing home abuse victims obtain compensation for their personal injuries, and eventually, the perpetrators can also face criminal charges.
Which seniors are at higher risk of being a sexual abuse victim?The most common abuse victims are ones who lack support from family members and friends. Also, patients who have dementia and are not aware of their surroundings can easily fall to abuse. Further, patients who suffered domestic violence or sexual assault in the past. Female patients are much more likely to be abused than male patients.
Can a doctor be held liable if a patient dies from an overdose from a fentanyl patch?Possibly. These are dangerous drugs and should only be prescribed for serious pain, such as cancer patients and the terminally ill, not for minor ailments such as lower back pain.