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West Virginia residents should get the facts about medical malpractice laws, statute of limitations and damage award caps.

No person wants to think about being the victim of a medical error. The ability for West Virginia residents to trust in one’s healthcare is important and should be respected by health care providers at all times. However, there are times when this does not happen and situations like surgical errors, medication errors or incorrect or missed diagnoses leave victims suffering serious consequences.

When faced with the reality of a medical error or case of negligence on the part of a physician or other medical professional, people should know how to seek help and what is involved.

What are some of the state’s laws on medical malpractice?

There are many elements to West Virginia’s medical malpractice laws. These cover all types of conditions or injuries from cerebral palsy to death. According to the state legislature, it is up to the plaintiff in any case to prove that a medical professional failed to provide a level of care that was reasonable per a noted standard of care and that any injury or death alleged was directly related to such failure.

A plaintiff may also allege what is referred to as a loss of chance. This means that had the standard of care been followed, the victim would have had a 25 percent chance or greater of either surviving if death occurred or of having an improved condition.

There are also specific timelines in which lawsuits can be filed. These are as follows:

  • Medical malpractice claims should be initiated within two years of the date that an injury is alleged to have happened, up to a maximum of 10 years after the injury date. Alternatively, a claim can be made within two years of the date that an injury was reasonably discovered.
  • For claims involving children under the age of 10 at the time of injury, claims should be made within the longer of two time periods: two years after the date of injury or prior to the child’s twelfth birthday.
  • The statute of limitations is not in effect for any case in which providers are found to have been involved in fraud or deliberate actions to conceal information related to a case.

West Virginia also stipulates that an initial complaint cannot identify the sum sought for damages. As noted by the Legal Examiner, a 2003 law provides for a cap of $250,000 on punitive damages or $500,000 in extreme cases.

What should patients do?

When a medical error is suspected, it is important for patients or their family members to seek help promptly. Talking with an experienced attorney can offer appropriate guidance.

Keywords: medical malpractice, negligence, injury