Virginia Beach Medical Malpractice & Medical Privacy Litigation Lawyers
At Anchor Legal Group, PLLC, we are committed to seeing that all patients are treated with the dignity and respect called for under federal and state law. We are prepared to provide guidance to families seeking assistance in medical malpractice matters. A lawyer can help clients with legal problems that demand immediate attention, including:
- Medical malpractice. A lawyer can help a family or a patient if they suspect their medical provider is not providing sufficient medical treatments.
- Medical Privacy Litigation. If a patient believes their confidential medical records were improperly disclosed, they should speak to a lawyer about legal remedies.
What Qualifies as a Medical Malpractice Case?
A medical malpractice case can be filed against a health care provider who fails to comply with the general standard of care. A health care provider can be a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. Virginia law defines the standard of care as a level of treatment most doctors would perform under similar circumstances. The mistreatment of a patient can lead to permanent injuries or sometimes death.
When filing a medical malpractice case, the victim or their family can recoup some of the financial losses they suffered because of the actions of the negligent caregiver. However, Virginia imposes a cap on damages depending on when the medical malpractice took place. If the malpractice occurred between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2012, the plaintiff could recover up to $2 million. Since July 1, 2012, the maximum recoverable amount increases by $50,000 per year until the medical malpractice cap reaches $3 million on July 1, 2031. The commonwealth allows for punitive damages, however, they cannot exceed the overall cap.
What Do I Need to Prove My Medical Malpractice Case?
The burden of proof is on the person accusing the caregiver of failing to follow the standard of care. In Virginia, the plaintiff must prove the following to win their case:
- What the standard of care was for the caregiver to follow.
- That the caregiver failed to comply with that standard of care.
- The patient either died or suffered significant injuries as a direct result of that negligent care.
- The specifical injuries that the patient sustained.
It is vital to keep as much documentation as possible about the incident. It will also benefit the plaintiff to chronicle the events, any problems after the treatment, and the timing of those problems.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Case?
A victim has two years to file a medical malpractice case from the time of the malpractice. However, the laws of Virginia provide for flexibility on that timeline, depending on the circumstances. For instance, if the victim died due to the malpractice, the family has two years from the day the victim died.
The circumstances are different if an employee of the Commonwealth of Virginia, such as a doctor working for the University of Virginia or other state school, is suspected of medical malpractice. In that situation, a claim must be filed under the Virginia Tort Claims Act. In those actions, the plaintiff has one year from the time of the incident to notify the commonwealth of their intention.
The two-year timeframe can be extended under certain conditions. The first involves the continuing treatment rule. If a patient is undergoing treatments for the same condition over an extended period, the two-year timeline begins at the conclusion of those treatments. Regarding the other condition, if a foreign object was left in a person following surgery, the plaintiff has two years from the date of the injury and one year from the date they discovered the object inside them.
What Should I Do if My Medical Records were Improperly Disclosed?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains regulations regarding how health care entities treat patients’ medical privacy rights. A medical professional has a duty to safeguard a patient’s medical information. Except under specific limited circumstances, a health care provider is not permitted to release a patient’s medical information without legal authorization. Violation of this duty may cause harm to a patient, and legal options are available.
A patient may discover that their medical privacy rights were violated. Under federal law, a person cannot file a direct HIPAA lawsuit; however, a victim can sue a specific health care provider or professional for damages involving medical privacy violations. It is important to note that medical privacy litigation centers on the violation of a patient’s authorization to disclose medical records or other medical information to specific third parties. A health care entity is not permitted to release a person’s protected medical information without their authorization. A medical privacy lawyer will be able to analyze the facts of the case and decide whether the patient’s protected medical information was improperly disclosed.
Am I Eligible to Pursue a Medical Privacy Lawsuit?
A health care provider owes a duty to the patient not to disclose information gained from the patient during the course of treatment without the patient’s authorization. A violation of this duty gives rise to a unique tort action first recognized by the Supreme Court of Virginia in the case of Fairfax Hospital v. Curtis, 254 Va. 437, 442 (Va. 1997). In recognizing this relatively new cause of action, the Supreme Court of Virginia held that the plaintiff could recover emotional distress damages for this tort without physical harm or wanton and willful conduct by the defendant, which is rarely permissible in Virginia.
The Court also found that a patient whose intimate personal medical information was wrongfully disseminated to third parties will experience some degree of humiliation, embarrassment, and hurt, so there is no logical reason to refuse recovery of emotional distress damages.
In determining whether to pursue a medical privacy claim on behalf of a patient, a fact-specific analysis that largely centers on what type of medical issues were disclosed and to whom will determine whether to move forward with the case. If a patient wishes to take legal action, a lawsuit for the unauthorized disclosure of medical information may be filed.