When a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional fails to provide a reasonable standard of care, they must be held accountable. Hundreds of thousands of people die each year because of medical mistakes, surgical errors, and misdiagnosis. If you suffer harm because a health care professional failed to provide an adequate level of care as defined by Virginia law, you deserve compensation.
At Coletrane & Messersmith, our legal team represents individuals and their families who have suffered unimaginable losses as a result of medical malpractice. Any health care provider’s negligence, mistake, or error could result in lifelong complications that no person should have to live through.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
The Commonwealth of Virginia defines medical malpractice under Virginia Code Section 8.01-581.1. According to this code section, malpractice can arise if a person suffered personal injury or death as a result of a tort or breach of contract action “based on health care or professional services rendered, or which should have been rendered by a health care provider, to a patient.”
Medical malpractice is not limited to surgical errors or misdiagnosis. It is any breach of the standard of care practiced by a “reasonably prudent practitioner in the field of practice.” This means that if the health care provider lacked the requisite skill or failed to provide the due diligence that a reasonable provider would have in the same or similar circumstances, they might be held liable for medical malpractice.
Who Is a Health Care Provider Under Virginia Law?
Virginia law explicitly defines who may be considered a health care provider to constitute a valid claim for medical malpractice.
As noted in the Code of Virginia, a health care provider is a person, corporation, facility, or institution licensed by the Commonwealth to provide health care services, including:
- A dentist or licensed dental hygienist
- A registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or licensed practical nurse
- Physician assistant
- A physical therapist or physical therapy assistant
- Clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, professional counselor, or licensed marriage and family therapist
- Health maintenance organization
- Emergency medical care attendant or technician
- Nursing home
If you believe that any of the above health care providers caused harm while rendering services or failed to give you the care and treatment you needed resulting in injury or death, contact our office to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer from our firm today.
Medical Malpractice Statistics
Medical malpractice is far more widespread than most people realize. A recent study out of Johns Hopkins suggests that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Estimates put annual deaths from medical mistakes between 250,000 and 440,000.
Medical malpractice causes unimaginable pain and suffering to patients. Studies show that:
- Medical errors cause as many as 10% of all deaths in the United States. (Johns Hopkins, 2016)
- Medical mistakes, diagnostic errors, and the lack of “safety nets” resulting in someone’s death often go unrecognized. (Johns Hopkins, 2016)
- As many as 1 out of every 3 hospital patients will experience a medical error. (Ipswich Local News, 2021)
- Between 15,000 and 19,000 medical malpractice lawsuits are filed against doctors each year. (Ipswich)
- Around 33% of medical malpractice claims are related to diagnostic errors. (Ipswich)
- 23% of medical malpractice claims are related to surgical errors. (Ipswich)
Researchers believe that the true extent of serious injury and death related to medical errors and mistakes is much higher than is what is actually reported. Only a small percentage of people who are harmed because of medical negligence or malpractice are believed to file a claim for damages. Call our medical malpractice lawyers to discuss your case today.
What Are “Never Events?”
Never events are considered some of the most egregious examples of medical malpractice. Many result in death or permanent injury to the patient. A never event is generally used to describe a medical error that is “unambiguous (clearly identifiable and measurable), serious (resulting in death or significant disability), and usually preventable.”
Surgical never events include but are not limited to:
- Wrong-site surgery
- Wrong-patient surgery
- Wrong-procedure surgery
- Unintended retention of a foreign object after surgery
- Use of contaminated drugs, devices, or biologics
- Medication error
These are just a few of the recognized “never events” that occur in healthcare settings throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and across the country. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury or death due to a never event, contact our medical malpractice lawyers today for a free consultation.
Medical Malpractice Cases
At Coletrane & Messersmith, we handle all forms of medical malpractice cases. From injuries that occur during the labor and delivery process to nursing home abuse and neglect, our legal team might be able to get you compensation for your injuries.
Typical forms of medical malpractice:
- Anesthesia error
- Diagnosis error
- Obstetrics error
- Prescription error
- Surgical error
- Treatment error
Individuals can also be harmed because of infections, delayed diagnosis, and more. Any failure to provide a reasonable standard of care may be considered medical malpractice.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Case?
In most medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations to bring a claim for damages based on personal injury is two (2) years. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. For instance, under the Code of Virginia Section 8.01-243, the two-year limitation period is extended in cases where a foreign object is left in a patient’s body. The statute of limitations is extended to one year from the date the object is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.
Additional extensions are granted where there is proof of “fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation that prevented the discovery of the injury.” And in cases where there was a failure to diagnose a “malignant tumor, cancer, or an intracranial, intraspinal, or spinal schwannoma.”
It is in your best interest to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as your injury is discovered. Failure to bring a claim for damages within the statute of limitations may result in a bar to your recovery.
How Do I Know If I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
The best way to determine whether or not you have a valid case for medical malpractice is to consult with an attorney. A lawyer can review your medical records to determine whether there was a medical error, failure to diagnose, or other forms of health care provider negligence that resulted in substantial harm.
Depending on the case, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. In Virginia, you are generally entitled to economic and non-economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit. However, it is important to know that the Commonwealth has a cap on certain medical malpractice actions. This means that by statute, there may be a limitation on the recovery you receive. This cap is based on the date the malpractice or acts of malpractice occurred.
To learn more about the cap on damages, contact our Hampton Roads medical malpractice lawyers. A limitation on your recovery does not mean that you will be denied compensation.
Will My Medical Malpractice Case Go To Trial?
In most medical malpractice cases, a favorable settlement can be negotiated prior to going to trial. However, it is vital to retain an attorney who is ready and willing to take your case to trial if full and fair compensation cannot be obtained.
At Coletrane & Messersmith, we are experienced litigators that know what it takes to win. We spare no expense in negotiating and litigating cases. We believe that medical malpractice victims deserve a strong advocate who will not rest until they get the justice they deserve.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Without the help of a skilled attorney, you may end up settling your case for less than it is worth. Unrepresented injured parties often accept low settlement offers because they cannot afford to take their case to trial. If you are seriously injured or have lost a loved one because of medical malpractice, you should never have to settle.
An attorney can make sure that you receive the largest recovery possible based on the facts of your case and your injuries. At Coletrane & Messersmith, we always put our clients first. Let us walk you through the legal process and help you through this difficult time.
Get a Free Medical Malpractice Case Evaluation
Were you or a loved one harmed because of a medical error or surgical mistake? Contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call (757) 821-6949 to discuss your case with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
Cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay no fees unless we win. Never settle for less. Get the help you need today.