Charlottesville Healthcare Litigation Attorney
Protecting Virginia Patients Through Litigation
When you seek or receive medical care, you expect to be protected. After all, healthcare is all about keeping you happy and healthy. Most providers and insurance companies facilitate care without issue, but others, for various reasons, will engage in bad behavior that can leave you vulnerable, confused, and even injured. A healthcare conflict that cannot be immediately resolved whether you have faced complications as a result of malpractice or a provider or insurance company is refusing to cooperate when settling your bill, is a scary prospect.
If a dispute or injury has become so significant that you and your provider or insurance company cannot come to an agreement, you may need to handle the matter in court through litigation. Our Charlottesville healthcare litigation lawyer at Norton Health Law can help. Our law firm boasts a unique competitive advantage in handling these cases, as our founding attorney, Beth Norton, spent years as both a nurse in the healthcare system as well as a lawyer representing corporate medical interests. She has a full understanding of all sides of these conflicts, knows how medical providers operate, and can leverage her knowledge to benefit you and your case.
Litigating Against Billing Departments
Sometimes, despite doing everything in your power to pay what you believe is owed, a provider billing department or insurance company refuses to negotiate your medical bill in good faith. Some hospitals will unfortunately charge inflated prices in the hopes you will cave under pressure from their immense bureaucracy and pay up, sometimes even under some maddening payment plan.
The reality is, some providers and insurance companies will refuse to be honest about what is really owed in a transaction. Maybe an insurance company refuses to pay out a valid claim, or a provider charges an exorbitant rate for what should be a routine service. You are entitled to accessible, reasonably priced healthcare, and should your provider or insurance company refuse to reasonably cooperate, our Charlottesville healthcare litigation attorney can assist you in exploring legal action.
In most circumstances, you trust your doctor and medical care providers. Their expertise and positions give them some authority you can rely on to diagnose conditions, accept treatments, and even undergo surgery. Many even consider their doctor or healthcare team friends; we especially understand this, as Attorney Beth Norton served in nurse leadership positions at several Virginia hospitals and built meaningful relationships with many of her patients.
That is why malpractice can be so disarming and devastating. Not only do you typically trust your doctor, you often pay a great deal through insurance premiums of out-of-pocket costs for the privilege. Experiencing malpractice can lead to additional hardships, including even more medical bills, and a severed relationship with what is supposed to be a sacred bond between you and your healthcare team.
In instances of malpractice, healthcare litigation is unfortunately one of the few tools you have to make the situation right. Doctors and medical providers tend to have robust medical malpractice protection systems in place to insulate them from legal culpability, and you will likely be unable to fight for just compensation for your injuries on your own. Litigation forces the matter out of medical bureaucracy and into Virginia court, where the facts of the case can be readily established and justice served.
Some of the medical malpractice situations our Charlottesville healthcare litigation lawyer can assist you with include:
- Failure to diagnose – if your doctor did not diagnose something that another competent doctor arguably would have, and that failure resulted in hardship that detecting, identifying, and treating the problem might have avoided, malpractice can be argued
- Improper treatment – this applies to situations where a doctor treats you in a way no competent doctor would or where a suitable treatment is pursued but the doctor administers it inadequately or incompetently
- Failure to warn of known risks – doctors are bound by the duty of informed consent, which obligates them to flag any potential complications involved with a chosen procedure; should they omit a risk that ends up injuring you, malpractice can be argue
Any of the above can be argued as medical malpractice through healthcare litigation. However, there needs to be sufficient evidence that a doctor or medical care provider was at fault, which typically requires several conditions being met for an adequate case to be built.
In order for an injury to qualify as medical malpractice, the following conditions must generally be true:
- The provider and patient were engaged in a healthcare relationship. This one is generally easy to prove, but you do need to establish that you agreed to be treated by your provider and your provider agreed to treat you. This distinction can be important for situations where providers make comments or give advice not intended for you. You cannot sue a doctor for following medical advice you overheard them giving another patient, for example.
- The provider was negligent in treating you. Negligence generally falls into one of the three categories discussed above. Note that providers are judged on a threshold of “reasonably skillful and careful,” meaning they are not expected to be flawless, just as adequate as another “competent” doctor.
- The provider’s negligence caused injury. This point seems obvious but can be trickier to prove than you may think. Remember, most people are being treated in the first place as a result of some significant illness or injury. You have to prove that the negligence caused additional injury that would not have developed otherwise. Wrongful death litigation can be especially challenging for this reason, as it can be tough to establish whether a patient passed away due to their inciting injury or illness or as a result of malpractice.
- The provider’s negligence caused specific, definable issues. Even if it can be proven the provider was not “reasonably skillful and careful,” litigation will likely not be successful unless there are specific issues triggered by the negligence. Types of harm typically honored by malpractice courts can include physical pain, emotional and mental anguish, missed work or lost earning capacity, and medical bills relating to the additional injuries caused by the negligence.
With all of that established, you now can understand some of the basic things that go into a medical malpractice lawsuit brought through healthcare litigation. However, the state Virginia has specific rules about how and when medical malpractice cases can be brought.
The most important thing to understand is that you must act quickly if you believe you are the victim of medical malpractice. In many circumstances, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice is only 2 years in Virginia. That means you have only 2 years from the date of the negligence to bring a lawsuit against the offending provider.
If the negligence allegedly resulted in wrongful death, the executor of the deceased’s estate has 2 years from the time of death to take action. Young children operate under slightly different rules; if they are under 8 years of age at the time of the negligence, you have until they turn 10 to file a suit.
There are even stricter restrictions on situations where the provider was employed by the state, or, more formally, the Commonwealth of Virginia. Any medical malpractice cases in these instances must be brought under the Virginia Tort Claims Act, and the statute of limitations is only 1 year, not 2 like in most other situations.
“Forever Grateful.”- Tina Fuchs
The Virginia Medical Malpractice Act also places caps on the damages you can be awarded through this type of healthcare litigation. As of 2020, the cap is $2,450,000 per claim, which will increase by $50,000 each year until it hits $3,000,000. In especially severe cases, an additional maximum of $350,000 in punitive damages can be awarded at the discretion of the court.
Successfully arguing medical malpractice in court is a tall order, and providers often have some of the fiercest defense lawyers in the profession working to protect them. Our team at NHL understands what is at stake for you and can work to win you compensation for your injuries, but you must contact us as quickly as possible.
Our Charlottesville healthcare litigation attorney is committed to making sure you are protected, now and in the future. If you are locked in a dispute with your provider or believe you have been the victim of negligence, do not wait to schedule a free consultation by calling (434) 216-4020 or contacting us online.