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An overview of medical malpractice caps in Virginia

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Medical malpractice is defined as an act of negligence by a medical professional, including hospitals, where the patient suffers or even dies as a result of sub-optimal treatment. The families of patients can claim compensation from the health care providers and, sometimes, the compensation amount can be very large. In Virginia, as doctors faced high medical malpractice rates, they have requested a limit, or a cap, on the compensation amount that can be demanded by the victim's family.

In 1976, in Virginia, the malpractice cap was passed in response to the crisis. In a recent development, the Medical Society of Virginia, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association participated in a discussion about the medical malpractice cap. The organizations want to come to an agreement on the limit that can be set on medical malpractice cases. In 2008, the cap was set at $2 million.

VTLA and MSV have come to an agreement that the cap will stay the same for the next 20 years. That is a crucial agreement and calls for an annual increase of $50,000 to the existing cap of $2 million. That change represents an average annual increase of two percent, starting in July, 2012, and would be effective through June, 2032. The medical malpractice cap retains Virginia's total existing cap and it delays the effective dates of any increase.

The final Virginia statute regarding caps in medical malpractice cases can be found on the Virginia legislature website. The agreement regarding medical malpractice strengthened the predictability of medical liability. It had a minimal effect on insurance premiums. The medical malpractice cap was also aimed at stabilizing the medical liability premium, while still protecting the safety and health of patients in Virginia.

Source: Medical Society of Virginia, "MSV and VTLA Achieve Malpractice Cap Agreement," accessed May 6, 2015

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