Virginia Med Mal Awards Arbitrarily Reduced By Damages Cap
By Jim Lewis, VA/NC Med Mal Attorney
A man from Hampton, VA who was seriously injured due to medical malpractice received a jury verdict for $25 million in damages, the largest ever med mal verdict in Virginia. The problem for the man is that the verdict will now be dramatically reduced, down to $2 million thanks to law in Virginia that caps medical malpractice damages.
The case involved a man who suffered from a serious heart attack after being given only an Advil to treat his heart condition. Despite complaints of heart trouble, the doctors said that his arteries were normal and sent the man home. A few months later the man, Christopher Denton, suffered a massive heart attack. The man will now need a heart transplant within five years and only has a 50% chance of survival 10 years after that.
The man sued the Riverside Health System and its cardiologists claiming negligence and won. The jury considered the case and arrived at what it felt was a fair number, $25 million, never being told about the $2 million cap.
This case illustrates the harm of such a damages cap. The only people protected in the case were the doctors and hospital administrators whose negligence led to the massive heart attack in the innocent patient. The only people punished by the cap are those who suffer the most serious injuries while doctors who are responsible for the harm, are spared from the full brunt of their mistakes.
The Virginia Medical Malpractice Attorney’s Perspective:
The problem with such caps on med mal damages is that they help the party responsible for causing the harm and punish the innocent victims. By allowing the cost of a doctor’s misconduct to be capped, physicians lose an incentive to keep their patient’s health and safety at the forefront of their minds.
While it’s true that most doctors do a good job caring for their patients, those that do not should be held accountable for their negligence and the jury system should be allowed to function without arbitrary statutory restrains on damages.
Potentially Helpful Info:
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About the Editors: The VA-NC medical malpractice attorneys at Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro include medical and surgical malpractice lawyers licensed in both Virginia and Carolina. Our attorneys have experience handling medical malpractice cases involving hospital and doctors’ mistakes, as well as nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see our track record of success in medical malpractice lawsuits, and also be sure to read our free medical malpractice reports Top 10 Tips From a Medical Malpractice Insider and Top 5 Surgical Errors. Attorneys with our firm have been listed among the Best Lawyers in America since 2008. Attorneys with our personal injury law firm have also been named Virginia Super Lawyers since 2010, an honor fewer than 5 percent of practicing attorneys receive.