The short answer is YES – you do need a competent WV medical malpractice lawyer for your med-mal lawsuit. Negotiating a medical malpractice suit is much different from negotiating on settlements for personal injury claims, on multiple accounts. Medical malpractice settlements require information and the ability to handle multiple legal paperwork and procedures that this kind of suit demands.
How Are Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Different From Other Personal Injury Cases?
Medical malpractices suits are subject to each state’s specific laws, which are far more complicated and involved with many more prerequisites and requirements than a standard personal injury case. In fact, there is an entire West Virginia legislative code section dedicated to creating hurdles and hoops for would-be med-mal claimants to have to jump through to pursue their legal claim – referred to as the Medical Professional Liability Act (W. Va. Code § 55-7b-1, et seq.).
In this regard, knowing the rules of how to preserve, file and pursue your malpractice claim could affect the end result of the settlement. As a worst-case scenario – not following the rules could get your malpractice claim dismissed or barred.
Most importantly, medical malpractices settlements happen to be far more aggressive than your average settlement with general liability insurers. This is mostly due to the involvement of medical malpractice insurers, who have their own manner of handling such claims by throwing the claimant into a sea of legal notices and paperwork that overwhelm the plaintiff party.
Steps To Begin Negotiation With A Negligent Doctor
Even if you would like to go for simple out of the court settlement, you will have to notify the doctor accused of negligence and their insurance company of your potential malpractice lawsuit. You can do so by writing them a letter or through a phone call to the concerned doctor.
However, in some cases you might be expected to go through the lengthy process of a formal court filing, in view of a possible medical malpractice lawsuit. In West Virginia, calls and letters will not legally suffice, but may be an okay way to start the process of putting parties on notice and in cases of clear medical negligence, you may be able to negotiate an early settlement this way.
Medical malpractice insurance companies require notified doctors to inform them immediately. Failure to do so can lead to the insurance company denying coverage, which would be detrimental to both parties.
In rare cases, doctors are self-insured and are open to negotiating a settlement out of the court. Unfortunately, that is an extremely rare case, as most doctors are covered by medical malpractice insurance companies, and once they get involved, they will push you comply with all legal requirements like filing a suit and meeting any formal legal requirements, before they even start contemplating a settlement.
In West Virginia, the formal process starts with having an expert in the same field of practice and expertise review the case and give you a statement that the medical care provider was negligent. You will also have to provide a timely, formal “Notice” of claim, with details of the claim and alleged negligence.
Of course, this is a way of stalling the settlement as they know these are steps that the plaintiff has to go through and there is no way of completing negotiations or arriving at a settlement without completing these legal requirements.
How Do I Negotiate The Settlement Of My Malpractice Lawsuit?
A medical malpractice settlement negotiation can only occur once you have expressed your intent of filing a suit against the doctor liable or have files a formal NOI, also known as a Notice of Intent to Sue.
According to certain State laws, you can only go forward with your negotiation for settlement by filing an NOI (Notice of Intent to Sue), first. This along with some other state-specific laws need to be taken care of before going forward with your medical malpractice suit.
Rejection Of Settlement By The Doctor
Once your NOI is filed, the medical malpractice insurance company immediately comes into the picture. One unique aspect of medical malpractice settlements is that the doctors have a choice to accept or reject the settlement proposal. This primarily happens because once a doctor goes in for settlement, the State will require the doctor the report the settlement which would in turn impact their employment in future, insurance premiums, and licensing, and overall reputation.
How To Obtain The Best WV Medical Malpractice Settlement
A competent and experienced West Virginia medical malpractice attorney will greatly help you increase the chances of settlement and reduce unforeseen complications. The need for a competent medical negligence lawyer increased proportionally with the level of complexity of the medical care, procedure(s) and/or resulting injuries.