What can a Virginia Medical Malpractice case / lawyer actually do?

At least three times this week, I have described what I do as analogous to a hammer. If your problem looks like a nail, my skills and experience can be helpful. But not every healthcare crisis, emergency, or negligent care situation can be helped by a lawsuit. Not every harmful interaction with a health care provider requires a hammer in response.

So when our office decides whether your need and our skills align, we like to start by asking clients the following:

Why did you call a lawyer? What are you hoping we can do for you?

The answers are as varied and unique as the people providing them, but often we hear:

– I want answers

– I don’t want this to happen to someone else

– I want accountability

– I want my bills paid for

– I want an explanation as to what happened

– I want this doctor / nursing home / to change how they practice

And what we often share, is that a lawsuit is quite limited in what it can actually do.

Lawsuits can’t provide every solution

What a successful Lawsuit will do What a lawsuit
won’t do
What
sometimes
happens
Make the provider
explain what
happened
Take Provider’s
License away
Doctor feels
remorse and
regret
Require the
provider to think
about your
care, and case for a
year or more
Prevent provider
from practicing in
the area
Provider asks
Doctor to leave
after a number of claims
Cause the
provider to
think again when
they see similar
condition in
another patient
Prevent the provider from being named
“Top Doc” by local
magazine
Provider refuses to promote
doctor
Make provider’s
insurance costs go up
Prevent the provider from performing
same procedure on
future patients
Provider asks
doctor to stop
performing Z
procedure
Require insurance company to pay you money for
your injuries
Require the doctor to tell future patients about your injury, or the lawsuit New policies are created to help prevent repeat negligence 

Make the doctor apologize Doctor gets better

Ensure local press covers the lawsuit or injuries 

If your goal is therefore to get the Doctor’s license taken away, or make sure he or she is fired – a lawsuit can never achieve those goals.

If your goal however, is answers, and accountability – a lawsuit may achieve those goals.

Sadly, we are also limited in what a lawsuit can do for your financially.

Virginia law limits what you can recover

Virginia law caps what a victim or her family can ask for and get in a medical malpractice claim. Even if the victim has $20,000,000 in actual lost wages, bills and medical needs – the system only allows victims to get between $2 – $3million depending on when the bad care happened.

So a lawsuit cannot FULLY compensate many victims of medical malpractice.

Lastly, a lawsuit cannot and will not, take your pain, grief or worry away.

Lawsuit can’t take your pain away

One universal truth about life, is that grief and pain can and often change who we are. A health care crisis can and will often change a person emotionally as well as physically.

Losing a loved one due to death, or because a trauma has transformed who they are is painful, awful and sometimes unbearable life event.

A lawsuit cannot begin to undo this kind of damage and we often recommend our clients (victims of medical negligence in Virginia) seek counseling from a pastor or licensed therapist, and speak to their doctors about the pain – in addition to filing the lawsuit.

In sum – if you believe you have been provide substandard care in Virginia, and don’t know whether you have a case – call us.

If you don’t have a case we will do our best to point you to the additional resources that can help you achieve your goals.

And if you do have a case, we will do everything we can to help you through this often long and difficult journey.

Lauren Ellerman

Lauren Ellerman

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.