If your doctor failed to properly care for you, they could be held legally liable. By filing for malpractice, you can recover damages for costs related to the injury and how it affected your life. Since these suits are notoriously complicated thanks to medical and legal jargon, a Huntington medical malpractice lawyer from our team at Underwood Law Office can help translate for you.
If you suffered from the consequences of a doctor’s mistakes, do not let the process of filing a malpractice suit intimidate you.
Receiving Damages for What You Suffered in Cabell County
The goal of any lawsuit is to readjust the scales to make up for someone’s wrong actions. In malpractice, the wrong actions were a doctor’s failure to provide proper care. Readjusting the scales is monetary compensation.
A primary component of medical malpractice damages is compensation for the impact the injury had on your life. You can pursue damages for:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment
- Diminished earning capacity
- Reduced quality of life
In addition to compensation for how the malpractice affected you personally, you can seek damages for how the case affected you financially. This includes reimbursement for specific costs related to the incident, such as:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy
- Psychological counseling
- Prescription medication
- Lost income
- Medical equipment
- Corrective surgeries
Your specific expenses will depend on what you suffered, but any losses that stemmed from the malpractice injury could be eligible for compensation.
West Virginia’s Cap on Damages
Damages in West Virginia malpractice suits are capped at $250,000, per WV Code §55-7B-8. However, these are for non-economic losses. As outlined above, non-economic losses are pain and suffering, changes to your quality of life, etc. There is no cap on damages to defray the actual cost of your bills, medications, and other expenses.
You may be able to receive up to $500,000 in non-economic damages in specific cases. These include:
- Wrongful death
- Permanent physical deformity
- Loss of limb
- Loss of use of a limb
- Loss of organ system
- Injury preventing self-sufficiency
If you experienced injuries of this magnitude or lost a loved one due to a healthcare provider’s mistakes, our team can help pursue greater non-economic damages to cover bills, disability, and even funeral costs.
How We Pursue Your Claim
Your medical malpractice suit will leave the burden of proof on the person filing—that’s you. A Huntington medical malpractice lawyer from our firm can work with you to compile information from:
- Medical records
- Expert analysis
- Injury photos
- Imaging tests
- Case comparisons
- Second opinions
- Surveillance footage
- Witness testimony
These will all be in service of demonstrating that the doctor did not uphold the standard of care. That is what a minimally competent doctor would do under the same circumstances. The evidence we compile will help highlight how your healthcare provider diverged from what another reasonable person would have done with the same expertise in the same situation.
Obtaining a Screening Certificate of Merit
West Virginia requires you to file a screening certificate of merit prior to filing the malpractice suit. This is an official document that helps demonstrate that your claim is valid. Obtaining a certificate involves consulting a qualified medical expert about your case.
The document will then testify that the expert:
- Is familiar with the standard of care in your case
- Is qualified to speak on this case
- Believes the standard of care was breached
- Can point to how that breach of care led to your injuries
You must file the certificate of merit at least 30 days before your malpractice suit, and you must have one for each person your suit will hold liable (WV Code § 55-7B-6). If this sounds like a lot, don’t panic. Remember, we work alongside you, drafting the document for you and filing it on time.
Consulting Expert Witnesses
Medical malpractice cases hinge on showing how a doctor deviated from normal practice. While some examples are obvious, others may be more medically nuanced, like operating on the wrong limb. This is where expert testimony can save the day.
The state of West Virginia requires that you provide expert testimony from a medical professional in the same field and with the same level of experience as the provider you’re pursuing a case against. That means a family doctor can’t be an expert witness for a brain surgery case. We can find medical practitioners who have direct experience with the condition you sought treatment for.
Your malpractice attorney’s job is to make your legal case accessible, allowing you to understand what’s going on every step of the way. The same is true of an expert witness. We can find healthcare authorities who make your case’s medical aspects accessible to juries, highlighting how you were injured.
There Is a Statute of Limitations for Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file your lawsuit. In West Virginia, that is two years from either the date of the injury or when you noticed the problem, per WV Code §55-7B-4. For example, if you underwent an operation and discovered later that the surgeon left a sponge inside your body, you have two years from the time you discovered the sponge to file your medical malpractice suit.
Some factors may affect your timeline for filing. For instance, claims for children under the age of 10 who suffer injuries from medical malpractice must be filed within two years of the date of the incident or before they turn 14 years old, whichever amount of time is longer.
In addition, you must count on having time to create your certificate of merit. Give us a call to learn more about your case’s timeline.
Types of Malpractice We Have Seen in Our Practice
Considering that Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death for Americans, it should be no surprise that those errors come in several forms.
You could qualify for compensation if you suffered from any of the following:
- Surgical mistakes, including surgery on the wrong site or leaving medical instruments inside patients
- Drug dosage errors, including providing the wrong medication
- Allergy and prescription interactions that cause illness or injury
- Treatment plan mistakes, like ordering incorrect or unnecessary procedures
- Lab issues, such as testing errors, misreading results, or technician errors
- Medical record errors, such as ignoring or misreading patient records or incorrectly updating records
- Anesthesia mistakes, such as not fully putting someone under or administering too much anesthesia
- Failure to diagnose due to medical incompetence
- Misdiagnosis, which can result in patients getting the wrong treatment
- Late diagnosis, which can delay treatment and recovery
- Birth injuries, which can result in life-long cognitive or physical damage to an infant
Even if you aren’t sure if your case qualifies, we offer a free consultation so you can get answers without committing. Communication is key to any legal case, so talk to us.
Common Causes of Medical Malpractice
It can be helpful to understand some of the common issues that lead to medical malpractice. We may work to prove that any of these issues caused your medical malpractice injury when building your case.
- Fatigue: Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff work long hours, and their work can be physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. Exhaustion can result in impaired or delayed judgment that leads to mistakes, like administering the wrong kind of medicine or marking patient records incorrectly.
- Inadequate training: While roles in healthcare require specialized training, some professionals may not be as experienced in handling certain patient care tasks. Inexperience can lead to life-threatening mistakes.
- Staffing issues: If a clinic or hospital is understaffed, patients may not get the high level of care they need. When practitioners are busy or overwhelmed with tasks, they may forget to do tasks or miss important signs from patients in need.
- Disregard for safety protocols: Every hospital has certain safety protocols that staff members must follow. But understaffing, lack of training, fatigue, and other impairments can lead to providers accidentally or purposefully disregarding these rules and injure patients.
- Substance abuse: Some medical professionals may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on their shift. Intoxication can lead to impaired judgment that causes serious mistakes and injuries.
It’s our job to identify the ways in which a medical provider or facility acted negligently, causing your injuries. We may investigate these and other reasons to understand which parties are at fault for your medical malpractice injury and how.
Hold Healthcare Providers Responsible with Help from Our Huntington Lawyers
You sought medical attention to get better, not worse. At Underwood Law Office, we are heartbroken that you were injured by someone meant to heal you. We want to help clients burdened by injury by making the legal process easier and more accessible. We have helped recover millions of dollars in compensation for clients across West Virginia and Texas.
Contact our office today to learn how a Huntington lawyer from our team familiar with medical malpractice could help you seek justice.