Medical Malpractice Law in Charleston, WV
In 2013 alone, over $3.7 trillion was paid out in over 12,000 malpractice settlements. Of these, 102 settlements were made by West Virginian practices, statistically making nearly 7 people in a town the size of Charleston the victims of medical negligence and deserving of compensation.
Malpractice occurs when a medical professional causes a patient harm by deviating from the standard of care. When the patient suffers harm at the hands of his or her doctor, nurse, surgeon, or other caregiver, he may be entitled to compensation for economic and/or non-economic damages.
Do I have grounds for a malpractice suit?
Just because a treatment did not work out the way you and your doctor wished or your initial diagnosis ended up being incorrect does not automatically mean you have grounds for a lawsuit. “Malpractice” does not encompass normal human error or grant a patient the right to perfect experience. However, if all five of the following elements are true, you may have experience damage due to negligence and be entitled to compensation.
A medical professional owed you a legal duty (i.e. you were under his care or treatment)
That duty was breached (i.e. the professional deviated from the standard of care)
The breach of duty was the direct and immediate cause of an injury.
The medical professional deviated from accepted medical practices or standards
His or her actions caused financial or emotional damage to the patient.
As you can see, malpractice rests on the concept of fault and negligence. Not only must the patient have been harmed by the doctor’s actions, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the doctor deviated from the standard of care.
This is why it is vital to have a competent lawyer who is experienced in malpractice at your side. You may be able to prove you were injured – but you usually cannot prove negligence without legal counsel.
What kinds of injuries might warrant a lawsuit?
While there is no defined set of injuries that warrant a malpractice charge, most patients that receive payouts from such a suit have experienced significant permanent damage, such as the loss of a limb, a major organ, brain damage, or another such injury with lifelong effects. In 2012, only 11.5% of lawsuits filed (not won) were for temporary or emotional injuries only. The most common injury reported was death.
The leading cause of malpractice suits is misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose an illness that results in significant harm to the patient. Mistakes during surgery were the next leading cause in 2012, followed by errors in treatment. Wrongful death is another common tort, which can be brought by the administrator or executor of the victim’s estate.
Who is subject to a malpractice suit?
Doctors are not the only ones who can be sued for malpractice. Such a suit can be filed against any medical professional, including doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, dentists, pharmacists, obstetricians, and even chiropractors and optometrists. Medical institutions, such as hospitals and clinics, are also subject to suits.
How much compensation am I entitled to receive?
The amount of compensation to which you are entitled depends on the extent of your bodily injury. Special, or economic, damages may be calculated by a number of professionals to determine the fiduciary value of:
- Present and future medical bills
Present income lost as a result of your injury
Future income lost (including employment benefits)
You may also be entitled to compensation for non-economic damages (up to $250,000 or $500,00 if you suffered a permanent disability or the loss of a loved on), including:
Pain and suffering
Loss of consortium
While the “worth” of these losses is impossible to calculate exactly, having an experienced lawyer can greatly aid you in convincing the jury of their true value.
If you’ve experienced loss due to the negligence of a medical professional and you feel that you have a malpractice lawsuit, it’s essential that you consult with legal counsel as soon as possible, since the statute of limitations for adults is 2 years from the date of the injury or from the earliest date when the injury should be been reasonably detected. Minors have 2 years or until the age of 12, whichever is longer.
A seasoned and skilled lawyer can help you through the complex issues often associated with these suits, including interfacing with the medical institutions who often hotly contest the lawsuits and come armed with experienced legal counsel of their own.
If you feel you have a malpractice suit, we invite you to give us a call at (304) 344-5683 or contact us by e-mail for a free initial consultation.
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