Children are among West Virginia’s most vulnerable groups of people. As parents, we trust pediatricians and other health professionals to provide valuable care for our children. When a child’s medical provider is negligent, one preventable mistake can change their life – even into adulthood.
Did your child suffer harm from pediatric medical negligence in West Virginia? The team at Robinette Legal Group, PLLC will stand with you in pursuit of justice. Jeff Robinette is a National Board Certified Trial Lawyer with over 30 years of experience in both litigation and mediation. As an Army veteran who served in the 82nd Airborne Division, he has the dedication, attention to detail, and strategic insight necessary to fight health systems and insurance companies for the compensation you deserve. For a free case evaluation, contact our Morgantown office today.
What Is Pediatric Negligence?
Pediatricians, nurses, and other medical providers must follow the accepted “standard of care.” Negligence occurs when a provider disregards the standard of care, putting a young patient in harm’s way.
But what exactly is the standard of care? No matter their specialty, techniques, or level of expertise, a doctor is expected to do what other competent providers would do under the same circumstances. They must follow the guidance of the broader medical community and apply common sense when guidance is limited.
Most Common Types of Pediatric Malpractice
Pediatric medical malpractice encompasses many different situations. Some common types of cases that our firm works with include:
- Birth injuries – Birth injury malpractice occurs when an obstetrician, midwife, or other professional uses improper medical techniques and harms your baby. Some birth injuries, especially those affecting the brain, could have lifelong consequences.
- Brain infections – Time is of the essence when it comes to meningitis and other brain infections. If a doctor misdiagnoses or delays treatment for a brain infection, irreversible or even fatal damage could result.
- Infectious diseases – Hospitals and clinics must take the proper precautions against the spread of infections.
- Surgical errors – We’ll hold a surgeon accountable if they operated on the wrong part of your child’s body or left foreign objects inside a surgical site.
- Medication errors – Both pediatricians and pharmacists are responsible for ensuring the right drug reaches the right patient. If a child receives the wrong drug or dose, they could suffer life-altering side effects.
- Misdiagnosis – If a child receives treatment based on the wrong diagnosis, the risks to them outweigh the benefits.
- Consent and records errors – If a pediatrician performed a medical procedure without the parent’s consent or didn’t correctly record information about their patient, they can be held accountable.
How to Prove Pediatric Negligence
Pediatric malpractice lawyers must prove the child’s medical provider acted carelessly, disregarding the standard of care. They must also establish that the child’s injuries and losses directly resulted from the provider’s negligence.
Each malpractice case is unique, and your lawyer must tell the story of what happened using different types of evidence. Some tools your lawyer will use to prove malpractice include:
- Medical records – Medical records can prove a doctor-patient relationship between the pediatrician and the child. They also detail the diagnoses a child received, the medications prescribed to them, and the unnecessary procedures they underwent.
- Expert testimony – Your lawyer will call upon respected medical providers or faculty to learn more about the standard of care as it applies to the case. Expert witnesses will also detail how the child’s doctor violated the standard of care.
To prove your child’s injuries and losses, your lawyer will use the following:
- Medical bills and records
- Documentation from a mental health professional working with the child
- A “pain and suffering” journal that the parents and child keep together
- Expert estimates of how much the child’s remaining treatment will cost
- Expert testimony about the child’s long-term medical outcome
Compensation Available in a West Virginia Pediatric Negligence Case
Compensation in a successful pediatric malpractice case comes in two pieces. Each piece supports different parts of your and your child’s recovery. They include:
- Economic losses – This portion of the money will primarily cover the child’s medical bills. However, it could also cover other losses with a monetary cost, such as a parent’s lost wages from caring for the child.
- Non-economic losses – Non-economic losses have no fixed monetary cost and include a child’s physical pain, emotional distress, and lower quality of life. Some losses, particularly emotional distress, can also apply to the parents. In most malpractice cases, standard of care for non-economic losses to $250,000. However, the limit rises to $500,000 if the defendant’s negligence resulted in death, disfigurement, or disability.
Statute of Limitations for Pediatric Malpractice Cases in West Virginia
West Virginia’s statute of limitations for pediatric malpractice typically gives you two years from the day you discover a malpractice-related injury or illness to file a lawsuit. The deadline shortens to one year from the date of discovery if your suit involves a skilled nursing facility. If you file after the deadline, the court will dismiss your case.
There is also a “statute of repose” that applies to medical malpractice cases. You cannot file a lawsuit at all if it has been ten years since the malpractice happened.
However, there is an exception for some minors. If your child is under the age of 10, you have two years from the date of the injury or until they turn 12 to file a claim – whichever is longer.
Before your legal team can file a lawsuit, they must investigate the case, obtain a “screening certificate of merit,” submit a notice of claim to the defendant, and participate in settlement negotiations. That’s why we recommend hiring an attorney as soon as possible after you discover the malpractice. The earlier they can start building your case, the better outcome you will likely have.
Talk to Our Experienced Pediatric Malpractice Attorneys in Morgantown, WV Today
Pediatric malpractice is a tragedy, and you deserve a fierce legal advocate. In a free consultation, the pediatric malpractice lawyers of Robinette Legal Group, PLLC will help you understand your options. While you focus on your child’s recovery, we’ll handle every detail of your case and never back down in pursuit of the compensation you need. To speak with an attorney, call or contact us online today.