Charleston Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Advocating for Victims of Medical Negligence in Charleston, West Virginia
When medical malpractice occurs, it means that a patient has not received the standard of care expected from their licensed medical professional. That patient will be entitled to financial compensation if the physician’s failure to meet the appropriate standard of care resulted in an injury or other harm.
If you were injured due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, our Charleston medical malpractice attorneys at Katz, Kantor, Stonestreet & Buckner are ready to fight on your behalf and help you seek justice.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Victims of medical malpractice often suffer from physical, mental, and financial pain. Medical malpractice occurs do the negligence on behalf of a healthcare provider, however, not all negligent acts can be considered malpractice. Successful claims of medical malpractice must meet the following 4 criteria:
- The Doctor-Patient Relationship: For an incident to be considered medical malpractice under the law, a doctor-patient relationship must have been in place at the time the injury occurred. A doctor-patient relationship has two aspects: the instrumental aspect, which refers to the actual care being provided (tests, exams), as well as the expressive aspect, which refers to the doctor’s approach to care (known as “bedside manner”).
- Breach of Standard of Care: To prove a case of medical malpractice, a patient must prove that a breach of the standard of care took place. The standard of care refers to the actions and care that a physician with similar experience and training would provide if they were in the same situation as your physician. For example, if a doctor misdiagnoses an illness with information other doctors would have used to make an accurate diagnosis, they may have breached the standard of care owed to the patient.
- Causation: The patient must also prove that the breach of the standard of care was the direct cause of their injuries.
- The Breach Caused Damage: Medical malpractice only occurs when the breach of the standard of care caused damages for the patient in question. These damages can include physical and/or emotional injuries, as well as financial hardship due to medical bills.
Our medical malpractice lawyers in Charleston are prepared to help you with cases involving birth injuries, cerebral palsy, hospital negligence, misdiagnosis, and more.
Caps on Medical Malpractice Damages in West Virginia
West Virginia, like some other states, has set a limit on how much money a person can receive as compensation for the damages they sustained in a medical malpractice incident. Currently, this cap rests at $250,000 per occurrence, or $500,000 in severe cases resulting in a loss of a bodily organ system, permanent disabilities or death. However, this cap is only applied to noneconomic damages, such as mental or emotional distress, pain and suffering, or the diminished ability to enjoy one’s life. The cap when enacted in 2003 allows for inflation. Thus, the current cap on non-economic damages is greater than when the cap was initially enacted.
Damages that can be received for economic harm, such as big medical bills or lost wages, are not capped in West Virginia.
The Collateral Source Rule in West Virginia
In most states, a collateral source rule prevents defendants (the medical professionals / medical institutions who committed the malpractice) from lowering the total damages they owe by using the argument that the victim was paid money from another source, such as insurance, to cover the medical bills or other costs incurred due to their injuries. In these states, a medical provider that committed malpractice will still be liable for the costs of the victim’s injury, even if those costs were covered by another source.
West Virginia handles this argument differently. If a defendant can show that the victim received money from their insurance company to cover economic losses such as medical bills, physical rehabilitation, therapy, or lost wages, the total damages they owe the victim may be lowered.