Medical malpractice is a complicated area of Virginia law with many restrictions. A medical malpractice case has to meet rigorous criteria before it can be considered for a lawsuit. To file a medical malpractice claim, you will need to show that;
- Your injuries are serious and/or permanent
- The doctor violated the standard of care
- The malpractice occurred within the last two years (in most cases)
Additionally, medical malpractice cases are expensive, time consuming, and few victims will receive compensation for their injuries. Unlike car accident cases, there is a cap on medical malpractice cases, limiting damage award to $2 million dollars. No matter how serious your injuries were, you can only receive up to $2 million dollars for your case.
The science of medical care is complex, and few outcomes are guaranteed. Almost any treatment carries risks, and doctors have to use their best judgment when treating you. Even if a doctor does all the right things, a patient's condition may not improve or they may get a secondary illness. Knowing this, a medical malpractice attorney has to show the doctor violated the accepted standard of care when treating a patient.
The standard of care is defined as the necessary level and type of care that a reasonable and skilled doctor would provide their patient in the given circumstances. If a doctor deviates from the accepted standard of care during your treatment, you may have a medical malpractice case.
To show that your doctor violated the standard of care, the attorney will need to research your condition and usually hire medical experts to evaluate your case and testify in court. Hiring a medical expert is difficult, because few doctors are comfortable accusing another doctor of malpractice. It is not uncommon for a medical malpractice attorney to spend weeks finding a medical expert who is willing to participate in the medical malpractice case. Once a medical expert is found, they will evaluate your case. Their evaluation may take weeks before their opinion is given to the attorney.
Another reason malpractice cases take longer is because malpractice insurance companies are typically willing to spend a lot of time and money fighting your medical malpractice claim.
During the trial, your attorney and the doctor's attorney will cover a lot of information about your condition. Since medical science is complicated, you can expect that your trial will take much longer than a typically car accident trial. Typically, medical malpractice cases are covered in granular detail in court. These cases may be in trial for many days, or even weeks.
It is not uncommon for medical malpratice cases to take over a year, sometimes longer, before they are finally heard in court.