Before you talk to any adjuster or lawyer, take two minutes and get some good information from our site.
Malpractice is “failure of a professional person, as a physician or lawyer, to render proper services through reprehensible ignorance or negligence or through criminal intent, esp. when injury or loss follows; (2). any improper, negligent practice; misconduct or misuse.” (Webster’s Dictionary)
Each year, Richmond-area hospital patients suffer from medical mistakes which result in serious injuries. Nationally, a 2004 Harvard Medical Practice Study estimates that, each year, more than 180,000 people die because of medical mistakes. Public Citizen, non-profit organization which advocates the rights of consumers, estimates that, each year, 1.3 million injuries are caused by negligence, and that more than two-thirds of these injuries are preventable.
Far too many Americans are injured or killed due to medical mistakes. In November 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report estimating that about 98,000 patients die each year as a result of medical errors in hospitals. Add to this the number of unreported mistakes made in other healthcare settings (physicians’ offices, urgent care centers, nursing homes, pharmacies and home care) and the amount of medical malpractice becomes staggering. In addition to the high costs of medical mistakes in terms of lives and quality of life, our nation pays an estimated $17 billion per year in costs due to preventable errors.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is professional negligence by act or failure to act by a health care provider in which care provided deviates from accepted standards of practice in the medical community and causes injury or death to the patient. It is the failure of a medical professional (doctor, a nurse, a medical technician) or a medical facility to provide a minimum standard of care in the areas in which the medical professional or medical facility specializes. A medical facility may be a hospital (such as MCV, St. Mary’s Hospital, Chippenham Johnson Willis Hospital, Memorial Regional Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Henrico Doctors Hospital), nursing home, clinic or another facility where medical care is provided.. If the medical attention fails to meet the standard of good medical practice and harm results to a patient, the medical professional or medical facility may be liable for any resulting damages.
In legal terms, healthcare professionals are only required to meet a standard of care that is ordinary or normal. When a physician is determined to be negligent, it means that he or she has failed to use the same degree of skill and learning, under the same or similar circumstances, that are used by other members of the medical profession. Some of the most common ways that medical malpractice occurs is through failure or errors in timely diagnosis and ordering appropriate treatment, ordering necessary tests and proper medication, consulting with specialists, and surgical procedures.
In layman’s terms, malpractice in Virginia is when a medical professional (doctor, nurse, etc.) fails to provide the level of care and/or service that the professional should have provided. Sadly, people are not perfect and make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are so bad, that they are indeed “malpractice.”
It is important to note however, that simply because a doctor or lawyer has made a mistake, does not mean you have a lawsuit. Under Virginia law, you can ONLY file malpractice lawsuit if (1) the professional was negligent AND (2) that negligence alone, caused you to suffer great harm.
FREE Medical Malpractice Case Review
Contact us now for a FREE conversation about your medical malpractice case. There is no obligation to hire a lawyer. We are usually retained on a contingency fee basis. There is no fee until our personal injury attorneys successfully recover fair compensation for you.
If we are able to prove your medical malpractice case and the medical provider is found negligent, then you are entitled to recover “damages.” Damages are intended to help you return to the condition you were in prior to the injury. There are several forms of damages that you may recover in a medical malpractice award – economic (for lost wages or medical expenses), non-economic (for pain and suffering), or punitive (to punish reckless behavior) damages. You may also receive compensation for future medical expenses and loss of future earnings. Punitive damages occur only in rare cases when it is proved that the medical practitioner had malicious intent.
Virginia insurance companies are protected by Virginia’s cap on medical malpractice damages, which is $2 million for malpractice that happened after July 1, 2008. There is also a $350,000 cap on punitive damages. The punitive damages are in addition to the med mal cap, so the maximum possible to collect is $2,350,000. This sounds like a lot, but this amount is rarely awarded and if it is the damages must be truly horrible and must provide for the victims care for the rest of their lives.
Insurance companies will spend any amount of money to defend a case. They will search high and low for experts to defend the care of their doctors. Insurance companies have limitless amounts of money that enables them to expert witness shop and choose a doctor who is willing to go out on a limb to defend the case.
Richmond Medical Malpractice Attorney
O’Bryan Law Firm helps victims of medical malpractice and negligence all over the state of Virginia. From northern Virginia, to the Richmond metro area to southside Virginia and Tidewater. Call us and get decades of legal experience from a Richmond medical malpractice attorney to help with your case.
Some of the types of case we handle include:
- Healthcare professionals and institutions
- Birth injuries and defects
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Heart attack
- + many more
More Medical Malpractice Resources
- How You Can Help Prevent Medical Malpractice
- What You Should Know About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Virginia
- Largest Informed Consent Verdict in Virginia Part 1
- Largest Informed Consent Verdict in Virginia Part 2
- Harvard Medical Practice Study of 2004. Conclusions: There is a substantial amount of injury to patients from medical management, and many injuries are the result of substandard care.[PDF]
“We see a lot of different kind of medical malpractice cases coming in the door. Frequently we have to explain to people who have been injured, by what they consider to be medical malpractice; typically they are defended very vigorously by insurance companies. In Virginia the doctors generally have control over whether a case settles or not. In other words the case cannot settle without the doctor’s approval, and most of the times the doctors do not approve because it’s an admission of fault by the doctor and they don’t want to admit that. You have to have a serious serious injury in order to be able to move forward with a medical malpractice case because the insurance companies and the doctors are very vigorous in defending these cases, which means that the expense of pursuing a case against a doctor or a hospital is massive. Generally you can count on spending at least $100,000 in expenses just to pursue a medical malpractice case.
What that means is, of course, is that you can’t afford to pursue a case unless you expect the results to be far in excess of that $100,000. So if you got somebody who’s got an injury that might be worth $25,000, they may have a genuine injury and it may be worth $25,000 but nobody’s going to spend $100,000 to collect that $25,000. It just doesn’t make economic sense.
People are suffering from trauma and tragedy generally in medical malpractice cases even more so then in other kinds of cases. I think the fear of the lawyers and anything you can do to lessen that fear and get them to where they’re more comfortable and capable of talking about the situation is, I think, it’s a plus.
I spent almost 3 years doing defense work. I dealt with insurance adjusters and insurance companies so I came to learn to a large degree it’s their attitude toward the system. They have an attitude that everybody is on the make, everybody’s faking it, everybody’s just out to try to make a quick buck for nothing. They have a tendency to discount everybody and every injury. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I know that there are people who are genuinely hurt, and do need help, and are deserving of being compensated.”