Exploring West Virginia’s Caps on Medical Malpractice Compensation

Published on March 5, 2024, by Forbes Law | Medical Malpractice

Exploring West Virginia's Caps on Medical Malpractice Compensation

You or a close family member has received a misdiagnosis, suffered a surgical error or childbirth injury, or otherwise suffered harm at the hands of medical providers. You want to hold them accountable, so you file a lawsuit seeking to recover damages for the health decline or added medical costs you accumulated because of the oversight or to recoup funeral and burial costs if the preventable mistake caused your loved one’s premature death.

If you’re wondering whether there are limits on how much you can recover in situations like this in our state, there are. Join us in exploring West Virginia’s caps on medical malpractice compensation below.

Understanding Damage Caps

This concept refers to limitations the law places on the amount of damages, which is monetary compensation that an injury victim can receive from a perpetrator or instigator of that harm. When caps like these exist, they affect how much plaintiffs (injury or fatality victims) can recover from at-fault parties (defendants who act negligently). This means that, even if they claimed damages that exceeded that set limit, they wouldn’t be able to recover an award over that amount.

Limitations on Financial Recovery in West Virginia

There’s no limit on how much a victim can recover if medical negligence causes them to suffer harm. Instead, the plaintiff filing the lawsuit would be entitled to their actual incurred costs, which may include expenses for:

  • Medical bills
  • Missed pay from work
  • Transportation to doctors’ appointments
  • Funeral or burial costs

While there’s no limit on the above-referenced losses, our state does indeed place a cap on how much in noneconomic damages the following victims in medical malpractice cases can recover:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disfigurement or scarring
  • Permanent disability

W. Va. Code § 55-7B-8 is the statute that outlines the monetary limits that apply specifically to noneconomic damages in legal matters like these. Caps applicable in these cases are set at:

  • $250,000 in most cases
  • $500,000 if the medical negligence specifically leaves a patient with a cognitive impairment, permanent injury, or causes their wrongful death

Why the Mountain State Limits How Much Medical Malpractice Victims Can Recover

When we inform prospective clients about the existence of West Virginia’s caps on medical malpractice compensation, they’ll often ask us why such limitations exist. It comes down to preserving the right of a plaintiff to file suit in cases like these.

See, there are no real grounds for arguing about the actual damages a victim sustains. They are actual bills for medical expenses and other associated costs. On the other hand, noneconomic damages are associated with intangible expenses or those “invisible wounds,” if you will—the ones that only a victim or those extremely close have endured and understood.

Thus, caps exist to ensure that plaintiffs don’t command unreasonable damages associated with these losses but that when they do, their request doesn’t bankrupt the defendant, who is often a medical care provider or hospital.

Receiving the Best Possible Settlement Offer Despite Damage Caps

If you’ve suffered health setbacks because of a medical provider’s wrongful actions, then it’s understandable that you’d want to hold them accountable for what they did to you. It’s actually in the best interest of all of society for you to do so, as it has the potential to discourage that same practitioner and others from repeating the same dangerous actions.

How can you maximize your financial recovery, though? Nothing is going to allow you to recover more than the damage cap amount in place, but, at the very least, you can approximate it.

See, most plaintiffs who file suit without the assistance of legal counsel never come close to documenting their losses well enough to command the upper limits in damages when they’ve suffered harm at the hands of a doctor or other health professional. However, it makes a difference when you get a medical malpractice attorney involved to build a strong claim on your behalf.

When dealing with insurance companies, you can expect them to pull out all the stops when defending against your claim. They do this to keep their expenditures low. You need legal counsel in your corner to meet their hardball tactics head-on. Our team at Forbes Law Offices can help you do that.

Reach out to our office to schedule a free consultation with an attorney in our office to learn more about the legal options that will give you the best chance of securing the highest possible settlement in your case.