Charlottesville Medical Malpractice Attorney
The advances in medicine are remarkable. Today, life and quality of life can be extended and preserved, even when patients are facing grave conditions. Thanks to doctors and other medical professionals, patients can get the level of treatment they need to live long, healthy, abundant lives. While most doctors in most situations approach patients with the level of care they deserve, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. When a doctor breaches the duty of care owed to a patient, medical malpractice has occurred. If you have suffered harm as a result of medical malpractice, our Charlottesville medical malpractice lawyers at the office of MichieHamlett can help. Please call us today to learn more about your rights.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
While patients cannot always be cured and do not always have positive outcomes, a poor outcome alone does not constitute medical malpractice; instead, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor breaches the medical standard of care owed to a patient. As found in the Code of Virginia Section 8.01-581.20, the standard of care by which a medical professional’s actions will be judged is that “degree of skill and diligence practiced by a reasonably prudent practitioner in the field of practice or specialty…” In other words, a doctor commits malpractice if they do something that another doctor of similar background and education would not do in the same situation.
Common Examples of Medical Malpractice
While medical errors and malpractice can vary on a case-by-case basis, some of the most common types of malpractice include:
- Medication errors;
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis;
- Surgical errors; and
- Treatment or failure to treat errors.
Damages Recoverable in a Charlottesville Medical Malpractice Claim
In Virginia, a patient can seek compensation for the value of their economic and noneconomic damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, recoverable damages are capped in medical malpractice claims in Virginia. The cap changes depending on when the act of malpractice was committed. For example, the cap on damages for acts of malpractice committed between July 2019 through June 2020 is $2.4 million, whereas the cap on damages for acts of malpractice committed between July 2020 and June 2021 is $2.45 million.
Proving Medical Malpractice
All these claimants must establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Picture two equally full glasses of water sitting side by side. If someone adds one drop to the glass on the left, it contains more water than the glass on the right. That’s an image of the preponderance of the evidence. This is the lowest standard of proof in Virginia.
However, it is not enough to simply build a bare-bones case. There is usually a direct relationship between the amount of evidence in the case and the amount of damages jurors award. Additionally, the victim/plaintiff’s case must be solid enough to withstand legal rebuttals from insurance company attorneys.
The hard-working Charlottesville medical malpractice attorneys at MichieHamlett diligently collect evidence which supports your claim. Then, we put this evidence together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This approach usually ensures fair compensation for your serious injuries. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Standard of Proof
When collecting evidence, it is important to know where the law sets the bar. That way, our Charlottesville medical malpractice attorneys collect the right amount of evidence. It is not too little and not too much. Evidence in a medical malpractice claim usually includes medical bills, lay witness statements, and expert witness statements.
Doctors have a fiduciary duty toward their patients. This duty is the highest responsibility in Virginia. As a result, conduct which might be an accidental mistake in some areas is actionable negligence in this context. Failing to completely read a patient’s chart is one example.
Legal duty is typically a question of law for an Albemarle County judge to decide. Expert witnesses usually establish the standard of care. Doctors must do certain things in certain situations. For example, in diagnosis matters, the standard of care usually involves talking to patients, running a full battery of tests, and making a correct, evidence-based diagnosis.
All medical professionals must follow the same standard of care. Level of experience is irrelevant. Plus, doctors at big hospitals have the same responsibilities as doctors at free clinics.
Methods of Proof
As mentioned, expert witnesses often establish the standard of care. These witnesses also explain to jurors how the doctor’s conduct fell below that standard.
The Old Dominion State evaluates expert witnesses differently from most other states. Experts may only testify if they “render an opinion or draw inferences from facts, circumstances or data made known or perceived by such witness.”In other words, experts in Virginia may not testify about theoretical concepts. It’s just the facts, ma’am.
At MichieHamlett, our Charlottesville medical malpractice lawyers understand that meeting the academic qualifications is not enough. An expert must also be able to communicate with jurors and convince them of certain propositions.
Medical bills and the other key source of evidence in medical malpractice claims. In addition to diagnosis and treatment information, medical bills often contain valuable treatment notes. These bills are normally admissible, if a medical malpractice attorney in Charlottesville lays the proper foundation.
Statute of Limitations
A claim for medical malpractice must be filed within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Virginia is two years from the date that the malpractice occurred. If you wait longer than two years from the date of malpractice to file a claim, you will be permanently barred from recovery.
Call Our Law Firm Today
Filing a lawsuit against your doctor, hospital, or another healthcare professional is intimidating, complex, and emotional. At the law office of MichieHamlett, our Charlottesville medical malpractice lawyers are available to help. To schedule a free, no-obligation with our lawyers, please call us today or send us a message. We can travel to your location and always work on a contingency fee basis.