VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY: HB 87 / NEW MED MAL LAW PROPOSED

Do you think a doctor would intentionally hurt someone? Intentionally refuse to provide care or injure a patient knowingly?

I don’t.

Do you think doctors make mistakes that sometimes lead to injury?

Yes, I have seen that happen many times.

The law in Virginia currently allows families to file a medical malpractice lawsuit if the physician failed to provide the care that a reasonably prudent doctor would have / should have provided and that failure caused an injury.

This is pretty standard compared to other states in the United States. But someone, a member of our General Assembly, would like to change how families proceed with litigation.

HB 87 before our Assembly this Winter, would change our malpractice system to only allow “civil actions … against a health care provider where there is clear and convincing evidence that the health care provider intentionally or willfully caused or intended to cause an injury.”

Ok, so I have already told you I don’t think doctors intend to cause people harm… so that would mean you would no longer have a right to file a malpractice suit in Virginia.

Instead, “Determinations of liability and damages will be made by a three-member Medical Injury Compensation Board. Claims will be reviewed by a panel of three qualified and impartial physicians drawn from a specialty appropriate to the facts of a particular case, whose members are selected by the deans of the schools of medicine of the Eastern Virginia Medical School, University of Virginia School of Medicine, and Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University, which panel will prepare a report regarding whether the claimant’s medical injury does or does not satisfy the criteria of a covered injury.”

So wait.

You get injured by a doctor, and a panel of doctors (not a panel of your peers or even a judge) will say if the doctor is liable, and how much you are entitled to receive as compensation.
And if they decide the doctor is not liable, then you get nothing.

Does this sound fair? I don’t think so. Virginians, I would encourage you to contact your local members of the House and tell them not to support HB 87. You never know when your family may need an attorney, and if this bill passes, you won’t have that right.

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Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.