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Chesapeake Medical Malpractice Attorney

Medical errors create a significant public health concern that considerably threatens patient safety. However, medical malpractice continues to occur at alarming rates. Despite the creation of clinical practice guidelines, risk management programs, and continuing education requirements, medical errors remain a serious public health concern and a leading cause of death in the U.S.

Medical malpractice claims require knowledge of the law and medical standards. The award-winning Chesapeake medical malpractice lawyer at the Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett has extensive experience representing Virginia medical malpractice victims. Our firm has recovered millions of dollars for clients who have suffered injuries and damages because of a healthcare provider’s negligence.

Medical Malpractice Defined

Medical medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, physician, or other healthcare professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence may stem from diagnoses, treatment, aftercare, or health management errors. Medical malpractice victims can claim damages against the liable party in these situations. Those who have experienced injuries or lost a loved one because of a healthcare provider’s negligence should consult an experienced attorney to learn about their rights and remedies.

Medical Malpractice Claims in Virginia

Medical malpractice liability laws in Virginia have two primary objectives:

  • To compensate those who suffer injuries because of the negligence of healthcare providers; and
  • To deter healthcare providers from practicing negligently.

Virgnia’s medical malpractice laws allow injured patients to pursue claims against negligent healthcare providers. However, Virginia’s medical malpractice laws contain several strict provisions with which an injured patient must comply. For example, medical malpractice victims must follow strict notice, procedural, and evidentiary requirements.

How to Prove Medical Malpractice

In Virginia, medical malpractice claimants must generally establish the elements of negligence for a successful case. The elements of negligence that an injured person must prove are as follows:

  • Duty of care. The healthcare provider had a duty to prove a standard of care that other reasonably prudent providers in the same situation would provide.
  • Breach of the duty of care. The victim must show that the healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care.
  • Causation. The victim must show that the healthcare provider’s error or omission caused them injury and harm. An unfavorable outcome alone is not enough to meet the causation element of a Virginia medical malpractice claim.
  • Damages. The patient must prove that they experienced damages from the healthcare provider’s negligence.

Malpractice victims must substantiate each element of their claim according to Virginia’s medical malpractice laws. Proving each of these elements can be complex. For example, you may need another healthcare provider’s expert witness testimony to establish the requisite healthcare standard of care.

There are generally three degrees of negligence in medical malpractice claims. They include:

  • Ordinary negligence,
  • Gross negligence, and
  • Willful or wanton misconduct.

Establishing the degree of negligence is crucial because some providers might have immunity from certain acts of simple negligence. This means they may avoid liability in court for certain simple mistakes.

The Requirements for a Virginia Medical Malpractice Claim

There are many strict requirements for a medical malpractice claim. Before a Virginia medical malpractice victim can file their lawsuit, they must send the health care provider a notice of claim.

After the victim files the lawsuit, either party may request a medical malpractice review panel to submit an opinion on the claim. The lawsuit cannot proceed until the panel reviews the case and issues its opinion. The purpose of the review panel is to weed out frivolous lawsuits and encourage settlements.

Moreover, in Virginia, some medical malpractice claims require expert certification. While expert certification is not necessary in every case, experts play a significant role in the outcome of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Who is Responsible for a Medical Malpractice Claim in Virginia?

Under Virginia’s medical malpractice law, a healthcare provider refers to a person, corporation, facility, or institution licensed by the Commonwealth to provide healthcare services. This includes individuals such as:

  • Physicians,
  • Hospitals,
  • Dentists,
  • Pharmacists,
  • Registered nurses,
  • Licensed practical nurses,
  • Nurse practitioners,
  • Optometrists,
  • Psychologists,
  • Physician assistants,
  • Clinical social workers, and
  • Licensed therapists.

These entities can only be responsible if the patient proves they had a doctor-patient relationship with the provider. A Chesapeake medical malpractice lawyer can work with patients to establish liability in a medical malpractice case.

Common Types of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can take many forms. However, most errors involve errors of omission or commission that occur from a wrong action. Specifically, medical negligence claims that may lead to a lawsuit include the following:

  • Diagnostic errors. These errors include a healthcare provider’s failure to establish an accurate and timely explanation of the patient’s health or failure to communicate that explanation to the patient. This usually involves a diagnosis that is missed, wrong, or delayed.
  • Surgical errors. An injury that stems from a preventable mistake during surgery and is not an anticipated risk of the surgery.
  • Improper medical treatment. This typically refers to situations where a healthcare provider provides a proper diagnosis but orders the incorrect form of treatment.

The patient must show a similarly situated healthcare provider would not have engaged in the negligent act or omission.

Compensation in a Medical Malpractice Case

In Virginia, medical malpractice claimants can pursue compensation for compensatory damages, including economic and non-economic losses. Compensation can cover the costs for:

  • Medical bills,
  • Lost wages,
  • Pain and suffering, and
  • Emotional distress.

Further, in very limited circumstances, punitive damages may be available. Punitive damages punish bad behavior, and accordingly, a victim must prove that the healthcare provider acted particularly egregiously for a punitive damages claim.

Most physicians carry malpractice insurance covering their defense costs and at least some compensation for the injured person. However, coverage varies across specialty and geographic areas. Thus, claimants must work with the lawyer to ensure that they secure appropriate compensation for their injuries.

Medical Malpractice Defenses

Healthcare providers have many possible defenses to medical malpractice claims. Healthcare providers may assert the following defenses:

  • They conformed to the appropriate standard of care;
  • The victim assumed the risk;
  • The victim’s actions or inactions contributed to their harm; and
  • The victim signed a waiver of liability.

Many physicians are insured against the economic impact of medical malpractice lawsuits. However, uninsured and non-financial costs, such as time loss, stress, and reputational damage, can prompt many healthcare providers to vehemently defend against medical malpractice claims. As such, medical malpractice claimants should work with an attorney to anticipate and refute these and other possible defenses.

Speak with an Experienced Chesapeake Medical Malpractice Attorney to Learn More About Your Rights

If you were injured by a medical procedure, surgery, or other course of treatment, your injuries may result from medical malpractice. If so, you may be entitled to financial compensation. At the Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, P.L.L.C., we have represented patients in Chesapeake medical malpractice cases for over 47 years. Over this time, we’ve learned how to cater our representation according to the needs of each client while maximizing their recovery amounts. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 757-267-9265. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.

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