When a person suffers injury as a result of negligence, an ensuing lawsuit generally has two major components: liability and damages. Before you can ask that the defendant compensate you for your losses, you will need to show that he or she acted negligently, thereby causing the injury.
Once you have demonstrated liability, you will also need strong proof to support your damages claim. At this phase, defendants often try to argue that a plaintiff’s losses are less than he or she claims, or that someone other than the defendant made the consequences of the injury worse, increasing the losses.
Types of damages
It is important to understand the kinds of damages medical malpractice plaintiffs can recover in Virginia. These typically include financial damages as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
Sustaining an injury often results in significant expenses and losses of earning opportunity. This category can include medical bills, long-term care, rehabilitation, home health aides, medication, travel for treatment, lost earnings and future limitations on the ability to earn. Expert witnesses can provide information as to the likely extent of recovery and future treatment needs.
Pain and suffering
Pain and suffering damages cover losses that are harder to calculate in financial terms but still have a serious impact. Plaintiffs can recover for physical pain and discomfort from the injury and from subsequent treatments or medications the injury necessitates. They can also claim psychological trauma, embarrassment and loss of consortium.
What you can do
You can make your case stronger by keeping complete and accurate records of your expenditures. You should also take care to comply with the instruction of your healthcare providers, including work restrictions, treatments and medication regimens. Otherwise, the defendants may try to claim that you made your injury worse by not following treatment.
Limitations on recovery amounts
Virginia law provides for a cap on the amount a medical malpractice plaintiff can recover, which applies to the total damage amount rather than to a specific type of damages. This law came into existence in 1999 with a cap of $1 million and an increase of $50,000 on August 1 of every subsequent year. Thus, the current cap is $2.35 million; after August 1, 2019, it will rise to $2.4 million.