Charleston, West Virginia Medical Malpractice Attorney
Physicians and medical personnel have a duty to their patients to provide a certain level of care that is compliant with approved regulatory standards and protocol. Negligent conduct, also known as medical malpractice, can occur if the medical professional deviates from the recognized standard of care, resulting in patient injury, illness, infection, wrongful death, or other condition. If you or somebody you love was harmed by a negligent medical professional, the compassionate West Virginia medical malpractice attorneys at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC understand the seriousness of these types of situations and are here to help.
The preservation of your rights is very important in a medical malpractice claim and you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. Our personal injury firm combines the experience of three attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice law. We offer a complimentary and confidential case evaluation to help you better understand your case and the options available to you.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
“Medical malpractice” is the legal term for errors, mistakes, and negligence-related incidents that occur within the scope of the medical profession that result in patient harm. For example, if a surgeon fails to communicate with his or her team and operates on the wrong patient, it is medical malpractice.
Medical personnel owe specific duties of care to patients. Any action or failure to act that falls outside of these duties of care, resulting in patient harm, injury, or death may qualify as medical malpractice. Patients and the relatives of deceased loved ones who believe they have been the victims of medical malpractice in West Virginia have the right to file this type of claim in pursuit of damage recovery. For more information, speak with a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer in West Virginia.
West Virginia Medical Malpractice Laws
One of the first things you will want to do after a possible instance of medical malpractice is learn the related laws in West Virginia. Each state abides by unique laws and rules regarding medical malpractice. Learning the laws in your state can help you file before you miss the deadline, gather the appropriate evidence, and file the right documents to maximize the odds of a successful claim. Here is a brief overview of four of the most important laws in the state:
- Statute of limitations. The statute of limitations, or deadline for filing, medical malpractice claims is extremely important. If you miss the deadline, the courts will most likely refuse to hear your case. In West Virginia, an injured party has two years from the date of the incident or the date of discovery of the injury to file a claim.If malpractice caused a loved one’s death, you have two years from the date of death to file. In cases involving a claimant under the age of 10, the plaintiff must file the claim within two years of the injury or prior to the claimant’s 12th birthday (whichever is longer).
- Filing requirements. For the courts to hear your medical malpractice claim in West Virginia, you must meet the medical expert witness requirements. Section 55-7B-7 of the state’s laws declares that plaintiffs filing these types of claims must use an expert witness who is “engaged or qualified in the same or substantially similar medical field as the defendant” to establish and prove the standards of care relating to the case.
- Healthcare provider liability. House Bill 2011 bars healthcare providers from liability for personal injuries that prescription drug or medical devices cause, as long as the healthcare provider used the drug or device according to FDA regulations. In these cases, you may have grounds for a product liability claim instead of a medical malpractice one. House Bill 3174 states that a healthcare provider’s apology or sympathy is not an admission of liability for patient injuries.
- Joint and several liability. Some medical malpractice claims involve the negligence of more than one party. For example, the healthcare professional, the hospital, and the pharmacy may all be partially at fault for one patient’s medication-related injuries. In these cases, the courts will hold each defendant liable for the entirety of the verdict, regardless of percentage of fault.
There are many other laws and specific statutes that may come into play in any given medical malpractice claim. A conversation with a Charleston, West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC is an excellent way to get information on the most relevant laws according to your individual claim. The better you understand the laws in West Virginia, the more you’ll understand your potential options for financial recovery after a medical-related injury.
How to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in West Virginia
If you believe you are eligible to file a medical malpractice claim in West Virginia, your first move should be to start gathering information. Keep documents relating to your harm, including medical records and hospital bills. Document the names of medical personnel you had a doctor-patient relationship with, as well as your nurses and other parties involved. Consult with an attorney as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss any important deadlines. Prompt legal help can also ensure the protection of important pieces of evidence.
Working with a qualified West Virginia medical malpractice attorney can make compliance with filing requirements easy. The lawyers at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC understand West Virginia’s expert witness rule and can help find one that is appropriate for your case. We can help you obtain the proper affidavit or other statement that proves you have an expert witness testifying on your behalf. Our attorneys can file your medical malpractice claim on your behalf, so you can focus on non-legal matters such as healing from your injuries or grieving a loved one’s death.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can refer to an almost endless list of mistakes on the part of physicians or medical personnel. However, certain types of medical malpractice result in lawsuits more often than others. In our decades of personal injury experience, the attorneys at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC have handled a large variety of medical malpractice claims in West Virginia. We’ve helped clients get through cases involving:
- Diagnosis errors. Delayed diagnosis, failure to diagnose, and misdiagnosis are mistakes that may occur when the medical professional negligently fails to listen to the patient’s complaints, ignores symptoms, doesn’t order the proper tests, misinterprets test results, or otherwise fails to properly diagnose the condition as a reasonable and prudent doctor would have.
- Medication errors. Medication mistakes can occur anywhere along the chain of treatment, from the time the doctor writes the prescription through the moment the pharmacist hands over the bottle. Medication errors such as the wrong prescription or dosage, or failure to warn of risks, can result in serious patient harms and even death.
- Surgical errors. Mistakes during surgeries are some of the most harrowing a patient can experience. Common surgical errors include leaving objects behind (especially cotton balls), complications arising out of negligence (i.e. nicking arteries), and wrong-site, wrong-patient, wrong-procedure errors. Anesthesia errors can also occur during surgical procedures.
- Birth injury. Every birth is different. Medical personnel involved in labor and delivery must prepare for all possible outcomes and crisis situations. Failure to monitor mother and child’s vital signs, failure to diagnose maternal conditions, failure to schedule emergency procedures, and misuse of birthing tools can all result in birth injuries to mother and/or baby.
- Negligent patient care. Hospital personnel are responsible for the health, safety, and well-being of patients before, during, and after procedures. Doctors, nurses and other staff members may all be guilty of malpractice at any time if they do not act according to accepted standards of care, resulting in patient injuries.
There are dozens of possible scenarios that qualify as medical malpractice according to West Virginia law. To find out if your recent injuries or the death of a loved one constitute malpractice, speak to a West Virginia medical malpractice attorney at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC. We will listen carefully to your situation and help you understand your rights and options as an injured patient.
Who May Be Responsible for Medical Errors?
Virtually any medical professional or healthcare facility may be negligent, including:
- Physician’s assistant
- Plastic surgeon
- Emergency room
- Outcare patient facility
- Urgent care center
- Other, ask your attorney
Damages Available in West Virginia Medical Malpractice Cases
As the victim of medical malpractice, you may qualify for significant compensation from the at-fault party or parties. This compensation can cover many types of damages, from your medical bills to pain and suffering. Damages available in these types of claims are similar to other personal injury cases but often come in greater amounts. “Damages” can refer to the harms the patient suffered, as well as the types of compensation for which he or she is eligible. There are three main categories of damages available in a medical malpractice claim in West Virginia:
- Economic. Economic, or special, damages are those that the plaintiff can calculate exactly. These are tangible damages with specific values, such as medical bills, the cost of lost wages (past, present, and future), the price of medications or medical devices, and other financial losses the medical malpractice incident caused the plaintiff. Future medical bills in these cases can be significant, often reaching well into seven figures.
- Non-economic. Non-economic, or general, damages are those that do not have exact values. They are intangible damages the plaintiff suffers, such as physical pain, emotional suffering, mental anguish or distress, lost quality of life, lost enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. Calculating these damages can be difficult, and require special methods. The jury is responsible for coming up with figures for non-economic damages based on a number of factors.
- Punitive damages. Although rare, punitive damages may arise in medical malpractice claims involving gross negligence, intent to harm, or reckless behaviors on the part of the defendant. The courts may see fit to award punitive damages as a means of punishing the defendant for particularly blatant disregard for a patient’s safety. For example, if a surgeon operated while under the influence of drugs and severely harmed a patient, the courts may award punitive damages as punishment.
Like many states, West Virginia has laws that place caps – or limits – on the damages an injured party can receive in a medical malpractice claim. These caps are $250,000 per occurrence on non-economic damages and $500,000 if the malpractice resulted in catastrophic injuries or wrongful death. There is, however, no cap on economic damages in medical malpractice cases so ask your Charleston personal injury lawyer for specifics.
Consult a Medical Malpractice Attorney in West Virginia
Tiano O’Dell, PLLC is a premier medical malpractice law firm in Charleston, serving clients throughout the state of West Virginia. Firm founders William Tiano and Tony O’Dell have been recognized for their superior client service and professionalism by being named as Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the American Trial Lawyers Association, as well as being designated West Virginia Super Lawyers.
For more than twenty years, Tiano O’Dell, PLLC has aggressively represented injured clients who have been harmed by the negligence of others. They are plaintiff advocates who truly believe that the responsible parties must be held accountable for their harmful conduct. Your case will obtain the meticulous attention to detail that it deserves. Top medical professionals work in concert with our legal team during the formulation and presentation of your case.
Most cases are settled out of court, but if the insurance provider does not offer a suitable settlement amount, your West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer will take the case to trial before a jury for a verdict. Insurance companies know we are serious because each case is prepared for trial from the onset. There are no legal fees unless we win or settle your case. To schedule your complimentary case review, call Tiano O’Dell, PLLC at (304) 720-6700 or contact us online.