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5 Necessary Steps to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Virginia

Medical malpractice cases are complex. If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence in Virginia, then don’t panic. We’ll review what you need to know below. 

You deserve support and compensation if you have been involved in medical malpractice. Our attorneys at Altizer Law provide the one-on-one diligence and attention that you deserve. Call our offices today at 540.345.2000

1. Prove Duty of Care Was Owed

The burden of proof lies in proving that the doctor, nurse, or healthcare specialist had a duty of care to the patient. This means there was a doctor-patient relationship established, which creates a legal obligation for the doctor to provide an appropriate standard of medical care.

In Virginia, duty of care is automatically established when a doctor-patient relationship exists. This includes not just physicians, but also nurses, medical technicians, or any other medical professional involved in patient diagnosis or treatment.

2. Show a Breach in the Standard of Care

The second key element in a Virginia medical malpractice claim is proving the doctor or healthcare provider breached their duty of care. Essentially you must show they failed to provide an appropriate standard of medical care, which led to your injury.

Some examples of breach of duty include:

  • Misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose a medical condition

  • Prescribing the wrong medication or improper dose

  • Performing the wrong surgical procedure

  • Using unsanitized medical equipment

  • Failing to order necessary medical tests or lab work

Proving this requires obtaining your full medical records and having them reviewed by an independent medical expert witness. They can then provide testimony showing where the standard of care was breached.

3. Prove the Breach Directly Caused Your Injury

In addition to proving breach of duty, you must also show it directly caused your injury or damages. This is known as proving causation.

Your medical expert will compare your records before and after the medical negligence to identify consequences that would not have occurred if you had received proper medical care.

Some examples of damages caused by medical malpractice include:

  • Additional medical expenses

  • Lost wages from being unable to work

  • Pain and suffering

  • Permanent disability or disfigurement

4. Act Quickly – Virginia Statute of Limitations

Virginia medical malpractice claims must adhere to strict statutes of limitations, which means there are deadlines by which a lawsuit must be filed or you lose the right to recover damages.

For adults, you have:

  • 2 years from the date of injury to file, or

  • 1 year from when negligence was first discovered

  • For minors under age 8, there is an extension until they reach age 10. Other exceptions may also apply.

Due to the short timeline, it’s critical to take action immediately if you believe malpractice caused your injury.

5. Prove Damages to Recover Compensation

The final required element is proving measurable monetary damages directly caused by the medical negligence. This is how you can recover maximum compensation.

Some types of damages available include:

  • Economic Damages

  • Past and future medical treatment

  • Lost income and reduced earning capacity

  • Cost of caregivers and assistance

  • Non-Economic Damages

  • Pain and suffering

  • Loss of consortium

  • Emotional distress

By taking these 5 key steps, you can build a strong Virginia medical malpractice case and hold negligent healthcare providers fully accountable.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is considered medical malpractice in Virginia?

Medical malpractice is when a healthcare provider fails to meet the accepted standard of medical care, resulting in injury or harm to a patient. This includes mistakes in diagnosis, medication errors, surgical errors, use of faulty equipment, and more.

2. What mistakes are most common in medical malpractice cases?

Some of the most common medical errors include surgical mistakes, misdiagnosis of cancer or other serious diseases, medication errors such as overdose, and preventable birth injuries.

3. How much does it cost to hire a medical malpractice lawyer in Virginia?

Most malpractice attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing upfront. The attorney only gets paid if you receive a settlement, with fees coming out of those winnings.

4. Who pays the settlement in a Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit?

Settlements are typically paid by the liable doctor’s malpractice insurance company. State caps limit portions paid directly by individual doctors.

5. How much time do I have to file a malpractice claim in Virginia?

Virginia has a 2-year statute of limitations, meaning you have 2 years from the date of injury to file a claim. Minors may have more time in certain cases.

Finding a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Virginia 

The advantages of hiring a Virginia medical malpractice attorney are valuable. From comprehending the distinct aspects of your medical malpractice to maximizing your settlement, a skilled lawyer can be an invaluable ally. 

Altizer Law has guided clients through their medical malpractice cases. We are here to help you. Call our team of experienced attorneys today at 540.345.2000.