When someone goes to see a doctor or has to go to the hospital, they assume that the medical professionals that will care for them are well trained, thorough, and competent. Most individual doctors are hard working, talented and dedicated individuals that do everything that they can for their patients. But doctors are humans, and humans make mistakes. A mistake involving your health should not be taken lightly, and if that mistake causes a life changing condition or worse, you may be entitled to compensation under Virginia law.
Nonetheless, medical malpractice cases are among the most complicated cases in our legal system. Not only are there complex legal matters such as the admissibility of expert witness testimony and evidence of the applicable standard of care, but often the medical issues involved are highly technical. Any attorney prosecuting a medical malpractice case must be prepared to comfortably discuss these topics with doctors, malpractice defense attorneys who routinely handle these cases, and judges. Most importantly, a medical malpractice attorney also needs to be able to simply and successfully explain the medicine involved in the case to a jury at trial.
The Medical Malpractice Case Process
When a person who has been potentially injured as a result of medical negligence contacts an attorney’s office, that call is taken very seriously. Key details are collected, specifically the names of the parties involved, the date when the potential negligence happened, a brief description of what the potential defendant did, and the injury that the patient suffered.
If the case on its face appears to be worth investigating at that point (i.e., the statute of limitations has not expired, the injury is substantial, and it appears that the doctor may be liable), the next step is to gather all of the patient’s medical records and submit them for review to a doctor who practices in the same or similar specialty as the potential defendant. The doctor will then issue an opinion to the attorney as to whether any of the patient’s health care providers failed to meet the appropriate standard of care in treating the patient, and whether that failure led to the patient’s injury.
Having a doctor agree on these points is crucial, because virtually all medical malpractice cases require expert testimony from at least one physician. In fact, under Virginia law, prior to serving a malpractice defendant with a lawsuit, a doctor must opine within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, [and] that the defendant deviated from the appropriate standard of care in treating the plaintiff. This means that it has to be shown that the doctor did something during the course of treatment that no other reasonable and prudent doctor would do, or failed to do something during the course of treatment that any other reasonable and prudent doctor would have done.
Should a case be accepted by a law firm, out of pocket expenses will be incurred by the client. The average cost for a physician to even initially review a case is between $1,500 and $2,500, and by the end of litigation, it can cost twenty to thirty thousand dollars or more to pay for medical experts, court reporters, medical illustrations and other visual aids, and other necessary items for the litigation. These expenses accrue before a verdict is even rendered and are incurred regardless of the result. Additionally, it may take anywhere from eight months to a year or more from the date the case is filed to go to trial.
Therefore, it is very important for persons who believe they have a case consult an attorney who understands medical malpractice cases and appreciates the financial and emotional risks to the client. Because of the complexity and cost of medical malpractice cases, attorneys recommend only a small percentage of cases to proceed to litigation, and very few cases are investigated. In fact, 9 out of 10 cases are turned down at the investigation phase by the law firm.
Barbara S. Williams has been fighting for the rights of victims of medical malpractice since 1988, and has the experience to help establish solid and successful cases. She has a thorough understanding of liability law, and does everything she can to help recover all of the damages that a malpractice case can cause. She recently received a record verdict in Page County, Virginia against an orthopaedic surgeon.
Barbara Williams, P.C.: Shielding the Injured from the Injustice of Insurance Companies In:
Sterling, Herndon, Ashburn, Cascades, Countryside, Front Royal, Winchester, Berryville, Frederick County, Luray, Page County, Clarke County, Shenandoah County, Warren County
Library for Medical Malpractice:
- Virginia Lawyers Weekly - Top Verdicts of 2010 [PDF]
Barbara S. Williams and her co-counsel Roger Creager had the eleventh highest verdict in Virginia in 2010. You can read more in the attached article.
- Hospital Infections: Deadly Serious
A new study claims that hospital related infections are causing an estimated 100,000 deaths a year. The fix would be fairly easy, and comparatively cheap. But what are the HMO's and Hospital Chains doing about it?
Frequent Questions for Medical Malpractice:
Case Results for Medical Malpractice:
Web Resources for Medical Malpractice:
- Center for Justice & Democracy
- Fibromyalgia symptoms and treatment
Description: Learn about signs, symptoms and the best treatments for fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia syndrome and FMS symptoms.
- Hissey Kientz, LLP -- Lawyers for cases involving mesothelioma, Ortho Evra, ReNu with MoistureLoc and other medical mass torts.
Description: The attorneys at Hissey Kientz represent clients in lawsuits related to mesothelioma and asbestos, the Ortho Evra patch, ReNu with MoistureLoc, Zyprexa, Ketek, Tequin and other drugs or medical devices.
- People Over Profits