West Virginia Lawmakers Consider Punitive Damages Cap
By Randy Appleton, VA Medical Malpractice Attorney
Senate Bill 215 was recently introduced on the West Virginia Senate floor and could spell serious problems for those injured in the state due to medical malpractice. The bill was written to take aim at the state’s currently unlimited punitive damage awards and would instead create a $500,000 cap in med mal cases resulting in either injury or wrongful death.
The sponsors for Senate Bill 215 say the step is needed to help remove the risks associated with inflated med mal verdicts. They claim West Virginia has developed a reputation as a lawsuit friendly state and the cap will help end that. They also claim the cap will lower medical malpractice insurance premiums and, as a result, ensure that more doctors stay in West Virginia.
Those opposed to the measure say that a cap on damages only serves to protect negligent doctors from their own misconduct. Damage caps do nothing to reduce frivolous litigation and only work to deny much needed money to those found to have been injured by a negligent defendant. In fact, such a cap only becomes relevant once a jury has decided that a victim was injured seriously enough to deserve a substantial amount in damages. At that point, a damage cap comes to the rescue of the responsible doctor or hospital, shielding them from a fittingly serious punishment.
The Virginia Medical Malpractice Attorney’s Perspective:
I believe that implementing such medical malpractice damage caps sets the wrong tone for doctors in the state, saying that the cost of their misconduct will be capped and that they do not need to fear severe punishment in truly severe cases. Though most doctors do a great job caring for patients, those that do not should be held accountable for their bad decisions. Capping the amount of punitive damages allowed in med mal cases does away with this accountability and would ultimately be a bad thing for residents of West Virginia.
Potentially Helpful Info:
Our West Virginia and Virginia medical malpractice attorneys have compiled a wealth of useful information regarding what constitutes a medical malpractice claim, limits on the amount of time to file a claim, and how to find the right lawyer to handle your case. For more information, read the following report on Virginia medical malpractice claims.
Those who have been injured by medical malpractice surely have lots of questions. Common questions for those suffering similar injuries include some of the following: What are typical settlements? How long do I have to bring a med mal claim? What do I have to prove to prevail in a med mail case? For answers to these and other frequently asked questions regarding medical malpractice claims, check out the following guide.
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.