As we grow older, we need to be more conscious and careful in taking care of our health. Regular consultations with your healthcare provider allow early detection and treatment of any disease to avoid further complications. When you seek medical advice from a health care professional, you believe in their knowledge and skills as medical experts. However, there are circumstances wherein doctors neglect to carry out their duty of care. Medical malpractice may be in the form of misdiagnosis, medication error, or any improper treatment administered to the patient. As patients, you might have to exercise your legal rights by filing medical negligence cases against liable healthcare providers.
In West Virginia, filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is a complex process that involves an in-depth evaluation of standard operating procedures in the medical field. There are procedural rules that are required to be strictly followed, detailed medical records have to be checked, and the “burden of proof” from the plaintiff must be substantial.
Medical malpractice laws may differ from one state to another. Wheeling medical malpractice lawyers follow certain guidelines in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit including the statutes of limitations, the limit on compensation or damages, and “Screening Certificate of Merit” requirements.
You must file a medical malpractice lawsuit within the statute of limitations depending on the state where you reside. Statute of limitations refers to the law that indicates the maximum time frame during which legal proceedings shall be initiated by the plaintiff. In West Virginia, you must be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years starting from the date when the serious injury happened or when it was discovered.
If you will file the malpractice lawsuit from the time that the serious injuries were discovered, you need to abide by the “discovery rule”. As the victim and plaintiff, it is your obligation to prove that the malpractice incident has not been discovered up to the time you have decided to pursue legal actions.
West Virginia implements a “statute of repose” law that will allow you to pursue the medical malpractice lawsuit within ten years starting from the incident date. Beyond this period, any lawsuit to be filed will be time-barred and you no longer have the legal rights to file for medical malpractice lawsuits regardless of the severity of the malpractice case. Even though you attempt to file a lawsuit, the defendant has the right to request the court for case dismissal. A competent Wheeling medical malpractice attorney can assist you in filing the medical malpractice lawsuit within the required statute of limitations.
In case the defendant commits an offense such as collusion or fraud by concealing material facts related to the injury, the statute of limitations will be considered as “tolled” and the “clock” will be stopped.
Under West Virginia Code section 55-7B-6, the plaintiff is required to submit a “notice of claim” to the defendant to be sued 30 days before filing the medical malpractice lawsuit. The notice should include the details such as the list of the defendants (healthcare providers), grounds on which the lawsuit is based, and a “screening certificate merit”. This certificate is a statement written by an “expert” medical provider under the civil court rules of West Virginia. It should consist of the qualifications of the “expert”, the level of medical knowledge about the standard of care, and the explanation on how the accused party failed to give proper medical treatment that resulted in the personal injury of the plaintiff.
West Virginia is one of the states that implement a legislated “cap” on the medical malpractice damages that can be granted to a plaintiff regardless of the severity of losses. There is a pre-occurrence cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages from a medical malpractice case. The cap can be increased to $500,000 if the medical malpractice caused catastrophic injuries and damages such as permanent disfigurement, permanent injury, or wrongful death. The non-economic damages cover compensation for loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and pain and suffering of the victim.
In contrast, there is no cap for economic damages from a medical malpractice case. Economic damages cover the compensation for lost wages, medical bills, lost income, and other monetary losses of the plaintiff.
The medical professional at fault should be held accountable for any negligent act that caused harm to the patient. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit may be time-consuming and complicated; however, all efforts will be worth it. Our experienced Wheeling medical malpractice lawyers at Ghaphery Law Offices, PLLC will be with you every step of your way as you win your battle against incompetent medical professionals. Call our competent personal injury lawyers who will provide you the legal help that you need to file a medical malpractice case.