We trust medical professionals to provide accurate diagnoses and reliable treatments. When these specialists fail to meet the standards of care set forth by the state, it is considered malpractice. When pursuing a claim related to any negligent damages, there are many factors to consider, and you may not have time to gather evidence, document your case, and go to court if you are still recovering. If you return home after months or years of ongoing treatment, you may be wondering if you still have a case.
West Virginia’s Statute of Limitations
In West Virginia, there is a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice. Within this timeframe, you have the right to go to court and file a medical malpractice claim.
The statute of limitations begins at the time of the injury or when the plaintiff should reasonably have discovered the injury. In the event of a fatal injury or a wrongful death, the plaintiff’s family can file within two years of the date of death. Parents who have kids under 10 who were injured can start a claim any time before their child’s twelfth birthday.
In addition to the statute of limitations, there are some other requirements and factors that may affect your case. Here is a brief overview, though you should contact a West Virginia medical malpractice attorney for more information:
- Reasonable quality of care. When the court reviews a malpractice case, a judge will consider whether the doctor provided a substandard level of service. The judge decides this based on whether another reasonably skilled professional in the same field would have avoided the circumstances that led to the negligent action. If a doctor or nurse causes harm that another would have prevented, it is considered negligent.
- Expert testimony. A judge may call witnesses to demonstrate the medical standard of care in the facility and prove negligence in West Virginia malpractice cases. The witness must have comparable experience to the defendant unless the evidence presented is common knowledge, that is, the defendant’s actions were clearly dangerous.
- Malpractice insurance. West Virginia physicians do not have to carry malpractice insurance. Even those that do may not have enough, which could make collecting the compensation you need to regain your quality of life difficult.
- For example, a hospital or doctor’s policy may only cover damages up to $750,000. If additional surgeries or future prescriptions related to the malpractice exceed that amount, you may need to seek compensation through a lawsuit. You will also be working with the insurance company, not the doctor. Insurers are proficient at settling claims for less than what is owed. Do not agree to an inadequate settlement or one that requires you waive important rights.
- Damage cap. Awards for non-economic losses (such as physical and emotional pain and suffering) cannot exceed $250,000 (or $500,000 in devastating claims, such as wrongful death). Economic expenses are not capped; anticipated medical bills, lost expenses, and medical equipment costs can be fully covered.
Even if your case seems straightforward, you may need professional help. If you were hurt due to a medical professional’s negligence, speak with a lawyer about a potential claim.
Consult a West Virginia Medical Malpractice Attorney for More Information
Though most hospitals and doctors are well-insured against these claims, it does not mean you will receive a reasonable amount. Often, the only way to ensure a fair settlement is to work with a West Virginia personal injury lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice claims. He or she will inform you of every legal option at your disposal and work diligently to protect your rights. If you need more information about West Virginia’s statute of limitations or need to start a malpractice claim, contact the experts at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC.