If you’re the victim of another party’s negligence in West Virginia, you have every right to demand compensation for your suffering and losses — but medical malpractice claims require you to jump through a few extra hoops before you get started.
Specifically, WVa Code § 55-7B-6 (which is known as the Medical Professional Liability Act), requires you to serve the medical provider or medical facility with a certificate of merit at least 30 days before you can file your claim.
Why do you need to do this?
If you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident or a car crash, you wouldn’t have this requirement, so why are medical malpractice claims treated differently?
Essentially, it all comes down to a combination of politics and economics. State governments have been convinced (mostly due to insurance company efforts) that they need to protect medical providers from meritless claims that could drive up health care and insurance costs.
What does the certificate of merit have to include?
A certificate of merit sounds intimidating, but it’s really just a statement from another medical provider that:
- States their qualifications, asserting that they are an expert under state law
- Defines their familiarity with the applicable standard of medical care that would have been appropriate under the circumstances
- Gives their opinion about the ways in which the defendant or defendants failed to meet that standard of care
- Explains how the lapse in the standard of care led to your injuries
Don’t let the legalities surrounding a medical malpractice claim intimidate you into not filing. With experienced legal guidance, you can seek justice and compensation.