When the sick or injured go to see a doctor, they are doing so under the assumption that their needs will be seen to by competent and experienced professionals. For the most part, those assumptions are correct. The vast majority of doctors, surgeons and pharmacists will make the right diagnosis, flawlessly execute complicated surgical procedures, or make sure that the right medications are properly used.
Most medical professionals have their actions tightly regulated by their respective state medical boards, which make certain that the standards of medicine are both kept high and adhered to by those that practice.
When Medical Professionals Don’t Fulfill Their Duty
Unfortunately, their are times when a medical professional does not fulfill their duty to offer a standard of care that is, at the least, equivalent to the skills and diligence practiced by others in their specialty. Medical Malpractice can be described as the failure of a medical professional to follow established guidelines, which results in patient injury or death.
How Medical Malpractice Can Occur
- Wrongful Death of a Loved One: The death of a patient due to medical malpractice.
- Prescription Errors: With the thousands of drugs that are available for almost every conceivable ailment, it is almost inevitable that mistakes will be made when the prescriptions are filled. According to a study by the Institute of Medicine, an estimated 1.5 million patients are sickened, injured or killed by being prescribed the wrong medication.
- Birth Injuries or Deaths: Birth injuries can be caused by any number of reasons, including misapplication of forceps or complications that result in a breech birth or cesarean section. The effects of the injuries can be both physical, or can cause serious damage to the brain.
- Wrong Diagnosis: If a medical professional diagnoses what is easy instead of what is accurate, he should be made to answer for his decisions if the patient suffers as a result.
- Nursing Home Negligence: Nursing home injuries, and even deaths, are all too common when: a facility is under staffed, its staff members are poorly trained, or when individual staff members just doesn’t care.
- Missed or Late Diagnosis: If a doctor does not recognize a condition as serious, the results could be fatal. A medical professional who fails to correctly diagnose a disease or condition until it too late is not helping his patients. If cancer is found early, a patient stands a very good chance of recovery. But if a doctor fails to act on clear warning signs in a patient, he could be held liable if the cancer is not discovered until it’s too late.
How much is my medical malpractice case worth?
There are many factors that go into the valuation of a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit. Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may be entitled to one or more of the following types of compensation:
- Medical Bills: You may seek compensation for any medical care needed to correct or treat the medical mistake. This often includes hospital bills, physical therapy, surgeries, and future medical bills if your injuries are life-altering.
- Lost Wages: Some medical malpractice mistakes result in injuries that leave victims out of work for weeks, months, or even permanently. You may seek compensation to recover those lost wages.
- Future Earnings: If you are no longer able to work due to life-altering or permanent injuries, the compensation you would have earned in the future may also be factored into your claim or lawsuit.
- Pain, Suffering, or Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Long after the physical wounds heal, the emotional pain of an accident can linger. As well, a victim’s life or lifestyle can be detrimentally altered after a permanent injury. These factors may be considered in a claim.
- Punitive Damages: Especially reckless medical professionals are sometimes punished for their negligence through punitive damages. In addition to compensation for your injuries, punitive damages serve as a deterrent for the medical professional and a warning to other’s in the profession.
- Wrongful Death: When a loved one has died because of medical negligence, they leave behind bills and funeral costs – and the loss of future income for their family. Of course, their loss is felt emotionally as well. This loss of companionship and affection is priceless. A medical malpractice lawyer experienced with the Wrongful Death statute will fight on behalf of your family.
Statute of Limitations (Deadlines)
Under Virginia law, it is necessary to file a lawsuit within strict deadlines imposed by law. In many cases, Virginia provides for a two-year deadline also known as a Statute of Limitations. However, special circumstances apply depending on the situation. For example, if the medical malpractice was discovered at a later time, if the injury is to a child, or a wrongful death has occurred. Once you have missed this deadline, you will no longer be able to recover compensation for your injuries. You should strongly considered contacting an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.