Virginia Birth Injury Lawsuit

For birth injury lawsuits in Virginia, there is a fund set up by the state government to help cover the costs of malpractice damages. This Virginia Birth Injury Fund was established in 1987, after a decade of high malpractice awards that nearly put many obstetricians out of business.

If there are medical expenses beyond what private or state insurance will cover for the child that suffered the injury, the fund will provide coverage in applicable cases. This includes the costs of in-facility treatment, in-home care, rehabilitation, therapy, medical equipment, modifications made to the home, and compensation for earnings that the child would have received as an adult, if the birth injury will prevent them from having a standard job in the future.

This fund is paid for by private practitioners and facilities who wish to have any malpractice charges covered by the fund, and is called the Virginia Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Program.

Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit in Virginia

There are two different types of birth injury lawsuits as classified under the Virginia law. The first is an injury that results in a physical or mental disability. The statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit in this instance is two years past the date of the injury, or two years from the final date of treatment if the injury was sustained as part of ongoing treatment.

The other type of birth injury lawsuit is one in which the infant died as a result of the injuries sustained. In these cases, also called wrongful death lawsuits, Virginia law allows two years from the date of death for the lawsuit to be filed.

Due to the state funding that helps cover the costs of malpractice damages for medical professionals and facilities, every lawsuit regarding medical malpractice is reviewed by a state-appointed review panel. The panels are made up of doctors, lawyers, and a judge, who review the evidence presented, and provide their opinions on the case for malpractice from both a legal and a medical standpoint. Their ruling is not the official ruling in the case, but is used as evidence in the lawsuit. The panel is also called in as witnesses in the case, should it reach a jury.

Damage Caps in Virginia

The total amount of damages that can be ordered in a Virginia birth injury lawsuit is two million dollars. This covers the total amount, which includes the economic, non-economic, and punitive damages awarded. Additionally, punitive damages are capped at 350,000 dollars.

If the injury case meets the requirements for the state malpractice fund, the lifetime medical expenses are paid out of the fund, and the child receives a payment for lost wages starting at age 18.

Virginia also has laws in place that can prevent a plaintiff from recovering any damages at all. If the plaintiff was in any way responsible for part of the birth injury – meaning that they did not follow the doctor’s instructions, or willfully ignored the doctor’s medical advice during the birth – they could be awarded nothing in the case, even if the doctor or facility is found guilty of malpractice.

In order to ensure that the right evidence is presented to the Virginia courts in a birth injury lawsuit, an attorney specializing in medical malpractice suits should be contacted as soon as possible. They can file the lawsuit within the statute of limitations, ensure that the right medical professionals are contacted for expert witness testimony, and present the evidence that proves the damages being asked for are necessary medical expenses. An attorney can also prove the case’s eligibility for receiving benefits from the state’s malpractice fund.

Sources:

http://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/medical-malpractice/laws-virginia.html

 

http://blogs.harvard.edu/billofhealth/2015/03/08/the-scope-of-virginias-birth-related-neurological-injury-compensation-program/

 

http://www.msv.org/MainMenuCategories/MemberCenter/FAQs/Virginia-Birth-Injury-Fund-BIF-FAQs.aspx

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