The West Virginia Legislature is quickly moving forward with its efforts to expand and extend West Virginia’s restrictive medical malpractice liability laws to further insulate and protect a growing list of health care providers whose negligence harms West Virginians, at the expense of innocent West Virginians who are the most seriously injured as a result of medical malpractice in West Virginia.
West Virginia’s medical professional liability law limits the maximum amount recoverable as compensatory damages for noneconomic loss to $250,000 for each occurrence of medical negligence, regardless of the number of plaintiffs or the number of defendants or, in the case of wrongful death, regardless of the number of distributees, except that the limit is raised to $500,000 where the damages for noneconomic losses suffered by the plaintiff were for: (1) wrongful death; (2) permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb or loss of a bodily organ system; or (3) permanent physical or mental functional injury that permanently prevents the injured person from being able to independently care for himself or herself and perform life-sustaining activities. The limits on noneconomic damages are increased on January 1st of each year (beginning in 2004) by the rate of inflation, but the limits will never exceed 150% of the original limits.
The Changes That Senate Bill 6 Would Make
West Virginia’s presently pending Senate Bill 6, which would make substantial changes to West Virginia’s Medical Professional Liability law in order to expand the coverage and extend the protection of the noneconomic limits on damages in medical malpractice claims, was first introduced in the West Virginia Senate on January 14, 2015, passed by the Senate on February 2, 2015, introduced in the West Virginia House on February 3, 2105, and is presently scheduled for its second reading in the House on February 16, 2015. Source
Under the guise of “control[ling] the increase in the cost of liability insurance and to maintain access to affordable health care services for West Virginians,” S.B. 6 would extend financial protections to pharmacies and pharmacists, home health agencies, child welfare agencies, group residential facilities, physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, health care facilities, speech therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, technicians, certified nursing assistants, emergency medical service personnel; and any person supervised by or acting under the direction of a licensed professional and any person taking actions or providing service or treatment pursuant to or in furtherance of a physician’s plan of care, a health care facility’s plan of care, medical diagnosis or treatment, as well as others.
S.B. 6 defines “health care,” in part, as “[a]ny act, service or treatment provided under, pursuant to or in the furtherance of a physician’s plan of care, a health care facility’s plan of care, medical diagnosis or treatment.”
S.B. 6 expands special financial benefits to more negligent health care providers: we would suggest that the West Virginia Legislature urgently address and respond to the root causes of medical negligence (health care negligence) in West Virginia so that all West Virginians are protected by the laws passed by the West Virginia Legislature.
If you suffered serious injuries as a result of possible medical negligence in West Virginia, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a West Virginia medical malpractice attorney who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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