Medical Malpractice FAQ
Medical malpractice is professional negligence by a health care provider or professional. Malpractice occurs when a health care professional fails to perform to standards in his or her profession. The malpractice can result in harm, injury or even death to a patient. Malpractice can also be a result of failing to do something or a negligent act.
We know that plaintiffs have many common questions related to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Below are answers to frequently asked questions about medical malpractice.
DO I HAVE A CASE?
Without careful examination of the details of what occurred, it is impossible to determine whether or not you have a viable medical malpractice case. Some bad outcomes can occur without fault on the part of the medical provider. That is why the attorneys at Pauley Curry, PLLC will provide you a free consultation after you contact our office.
HOW DOES AN INITIAL CONSULTATION HAPPEN?
Once you contact our office, an experienced lawyer will review the details of what happened, paying specific attention to when and how you or your loved one was injured. We will be able to answer any questions you may have and explain the procedure for filing a medical malpractice suit.
HOW MUCH DO I HAVE TO PAY TO PURSUE A LAWSUIT?
Our office operates on a contingency fee basis, which means we only make money if you do. We assume all risk by advancing the costs associated with pursuing the case, including filing fees and expert witness fees. If we prevail in your medical malpractice law suit, we will simply recover our costs and a percentage of the compensation. If we are unsuccessful, you owe nothing.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO RESOLVE MY CASE?
Medical malpractice cases typically take longer to prosecute than other types of personal injury cases. This is due to the complex nature of medical malpractice cases including the need to review and analyze voluminous medical records, the necessity of obtaining quality experts prior to the filing of a case, and the amount of discovery your case will require. Because it takes time to make sure you have a valid claim, clients are encouraged to contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after suspecting you have been a victim of medical malpractice. The longer your attorney and experts have to review your case before the statute of limitations expires, this will increase your opportunity to prevail.
As part of this process under Kentucky law your attorney must certify that they have conferred with an expert regarding your case. Under West Virginia law, a Notice of Claim must be served upon the healthcare provider prior to filing suit. This Notice of Claim must include a Certificate of Merit signed by a qualified expert who can testify as to the breach of the standard of care and how that breach of the standard of care caused injury.
Once all these preliminary steps have been taken your case will begin to move forward. In Kentucky most Courts require that a trial cannot be scheduled until all of the discovery in your case has been completed. Under West Virginia law, a Scheduling Order is routinely entered in the early stages of a case. Under West Virginia’s Trial Court Rules a trial is generally scheduled within 18 months of the filing of your Complaint. Delays due to the Court’s schedule, disputes over discovery, and other unforeseen events could possibly delay the trial of your case past the 18-month time period.
At Pauley Curry we strive to prepare and present your case as quickly as possible.
However, we will not sacrifice effectiveness for speed.
HOW MUCH MONEY WILL I GET?
You may be entitled to compensation for past medical expenses, future medical treatment, loss of past and future earnings, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. The West Virginia Legislature has imposed damage limits which may limit the amount of damages you may recover in your case. These damage caps may increase slightly from year to year. At the present time, West Virginia Code §55-7B-8(c) limits the recovery for non-economic loss to $652,192.00 in all medical malpractice cases.
Out of any judgment or verdict, the amount you will receive will be reduced by the attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing your claim. Additionally, the law requires that entities that may have paid for your medical care are entitled to reimbursement for the amounts they have paid. Thus, out of any settlement or judgment, Medicaid, Medicare, and private health insurers are legally entitled to recover the amounts they have paid. Additionally, the West Virginia Legislature, in West Virginia Code §29-12B-1a, requires that 1% of the gross amount of any settlement or judgment shall be paid to the West Virginia Board of Risk and Insurance Management.
HOW WILL I KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING IN MY CASE?
The attorneys at Pauley Curry will update you regularly on the progress in your case, generally through written correspondence. However, if we need to get in touch with you for a time-sensitive matter, we will call you. If at any point you have questions, you can call and speak to an attorney or staff member who can update you on the status of your case.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A LAWSUIT?
In Kentucky, there is a one year statute of limitations that applies to medical malpractice actions, which again, may be extended under certain limited circumstances. In West Virginia, there is a two year statute of limitations that applies to medical malpractice actions, which under certain limited circumstances may be expanded upon. In both Kentucky and West Virginia, the statute of limitations which applies to children is longer. Thus, it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as you discover that you may have been a victim of medical malpractice. By contacting an attorney as soon as you discover that you may have been a victim of malpractice, this will allow the attorney adequate time to investigate your claim and to hire appropriate experts to certify that your claim has merit.
WHO ACTUALLY WORKS ON MY CASE?
Unlike larger law firms, Pauley Curry does not employ associate attorneys. Therefore, your case will be reviewed and developed by one of our three medical malpractice attorneys who have successfully prosecuted hundreds of medical malpractice claims. Pauley Curry currently employs only four staff members, which means your case will not be lost in the shuffle. Because of Pauley Curry’s small size, we are able to provide you with the individual attention you and your case deserve.
WHERE WILL MY CASE BE BROUGHT?
Usually, medical malpractice cases are brought in state court, in the county where the malpractice occurred. There are exceptions to this rule which may allow the case to be brought in another county. If the case involves malpractice on the part of a physician employed by a federally funded rural health clinic or if it involves a veteran’s hospital, the case must be brought in federal court. Our firm has extensive experience in litigating cases in both state and federal court.