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Do West Virginia laws cap damages in medical malpractice
Yes. Like many states, West Virginia
has a statute on the books that places a limit or “cap” on the amount of compensation
a plaintiff can receive in a medical
malpractice case. The controversial impact of laws like this is that, even
where a plaintiff establishes the defendant’s liability for malpractice, there is
a limit on the actual amount of damages the jury can award, regardless of the
plaintiff’s specific losses.
West Virginia puts a $250,000 per-occurrence cap on
non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. This cap bumps up to $500,000 for non-economic damages if
the medical malpractice resulted in certain catastrophic damages including
wrongful death, permanent and serious disfigurement, or an injury that
permanently prevents the plaintiff from being able to care for him/herself and
perform life-sustaining activities. For the details, see West
Virginia Code section 55-7B-8.
So, what are these
all-important “non-economic damages”? In any injury case, non-economic damages include
compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss
of enjoyment of life. Non-economic damages are said to be more “subjective” from
plaintiff to plaintiff, and they’re not so easy to capture with a dollar
Remember that West Virginia does not cap economic damages in
medical malpractice cases. Economic
(sometimes called “special”) damages typically consist of payment for past and
future medical care, reimbursement of lost income, compensation for lost
earning capacity, and other financial losses that can be attributed to the
Learn more about Medical
by: David Goguen, J.D.
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