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The Law of Medical Malpractice in Virginia:
A Survey of Basic Considerations
Malpractice law in Virginia sets the statute of limitations for bringing any legal action to no more than 2 years after the original injury date or the date when the plaintiff first discovered the injury. Some special cases may extend this time period, but no suit can be brought forward after 10 or more years from the original injury.
Cases of medical malpractice related to foreign objects in the body may be brought no more than two years after discovery.
The state of Virginia also limits recovery damages of all kinds to $1.95 million or less. It does not separate several and joint liability. This means that any joint defendant against whom a judgment has been entered may be liable to the plaintiff for the total amount awarded in the judgment.
This is the case even if the defendant is not entirely at fault. If a plaintiff’s negligence has contributed to the injury, this law may be allowed to prevent that plaintiff from recovering any damages. However, this is only likely to occur when plaintiffs are negligent concurrently with the defendants.
The state of Virginia requires expert witnesses in almost all medical malpractice cases. To qualify as an expert witness in the state of Virginia a person must possess an up-to-date medical license. He or she must also have a currently-active clinical practice in the same field as the defendant or in a specialty that is comparable to that of the defendant.
Unlike many other states which limit attorneys’ fees to a certain percentage of the damage award the state of Virginia places no limit on legal costs. This means that plaintiffs are permitted to spend as much as they choose in order to win their cases; however, it also means that lawyers are permitted to charge larger fees for their services, even if those fees end up being equal to or greater than the amount awarded in a winning case.
Still, most medical malpractice attorneys work on a contingency fee basis under which a contract between attorney and client is drafted prior to a settlement or court decision which outlines what percentage of the damages the attorney is entitled too.
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