West Virginia Medical Malpractice: Laws, Claims and Damages
UPDATED: March 12, 2012
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WEST VIRGINIA MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
In West Virginia, a medical malpractice lawsuit can arise out of the medical negligence of a health care provider. Health care providers have a duty to treat patients within an industry-accepted standard of care, and administering treatment that falls below this standard of care is considered medical negligence if it results in injury to the patient. Common acts of medical negligence in West Virginia include:
- Unacceptable or unreasonable delays in diagnosis or treatment of a condition, or misdiagnosis;
- Failure to diagnose or treat a condition when it should have been diagnosed or treated;
- Injuries during birth;
- Errors in prescribing or filling medication.
A West Virginia medical malpractice attorney can be of great assistance if you believe that you have been injured by a health care provider’s medical negligence.
Who Can Be Sued in a West Virginia Medical Malpractice Case?
Any person or entity licensed to treat patients or otherwise provide medical services in West Virginia is considered a health care provider and may be held liable for medical negligence. Some common examples of West Virginia health care providers include both individuals and organizations, such as clinics, hospitals, medical groups, nursing homes, doctors, dentists, surgeons, nurses, and physicians. If you have been injured by an individual or entity that you believe is a health care provider, but are not sure, contact a West Virginia medical malpractice attorney for clarification.
West Virginia Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
West Virginia law states that an injured party must file a claim for medical malpractice either within two years of the medically negligent act or, if the injury is not discovered until later, two years from the date the injury was (or should have been) found. However, a party may never bring a claim for medical malpractice more than ten years after the negligent act occurred, even if they do not discover the injury until that time. Note that exceptions do exist for injured minors under ten years of age: their parent or guardian has up until the minor’s twelfth birthday, or within two years of the date of the injury (whichever is longer), to file a claim.
Filing a West Virginia medical malpractice claim within the statute of limitations is imperative to protecting your rights and recovering damages. Failure to file a claim within the time limit means forfeiting your right to recover. If you have suffered an injury due to a health care provider’s medical negligence, contact a West Virginia medical malpractice attorney today.
Caps on Medical Malpractice Claims in West Virginia
West Virginia law provides an injured plaintiff the opportunity to recover compensatory and, sometimes, punitive damages. The amount of recovery always depends on the facts of the case. Punitive damages are only awarded in West Virginia in cases where the health care provider has acted fraudulently, maliciously, or intentionally. On the other hand, compensatory damages, comprised of both economic (actual and quantifiable) and noneconomic (pain and suffering, loss of consortium) damages, are more commonly awarded.
However, West Virginia law limits the noneconomic portion of compensatory damages. The law caps noneconomic damages at $250,000 per occurrence, unless the case involves death or permanent disability, in which case noneconomic damages are capped at $500,000 per occurrence. Because damages are very fact-specific, it’s a good idea to review your case with an experienced West Virginia medical malpractice attorney to get an accurate estimate of the damages you can reasonably claim in your lawsuit.
Filing a West Virginia Medical Malpractice Claim
Filing a medical malpractice claim in West Virginia is not an easy process. Lawsuits can often stretch out over a long period of time and require the plaintiff to confront multiple filing deadlines, procedural obstacles, and court appearances. In order to build a strong claim, plaintiffs often must depose expert witnesses, an essential part of the process that requires legal skills and experience.
Additionally, since there can be more than one defendant in a medical malpractice claim – for instance, the health care provider, the hospital they work for, and the manufacturer of the equipment they used – this can mean dealing with more than one experienced defense attorney on the other side. To ensure that you will receive the fairest recovery possible, and that your claim is not dismissed entirely, consult a West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer before proceeding with your case.
West Virginia Medical Malpractice Laws
- Actions, Suits and Arbitration: Medical Professional Liability: Definitions: Chp. 55, §7B-2.
- Actions, Suits and Arbitration: Medical Professional Liability: Health care injuries; limitations of actions; exceptions: Chp. 55, §7B-4.
- Actions, Suits and Arbitration: Medical Professional Liability: Limit on liability for noneconomic loss: Chp. 55, §7B-8.