On September 27, 2013, a Richmond (Virginia) Circuit Court jury awarded $4 million to a young woman who became paralyzed from the chest down as a result of alleged medical malpractice that occurred in 2004, in her legal malpractice claim against her prominent Washington, D. C. medical malpractice lawyers. The legal malpractice jury took only about 90 minutes after a four-day trial to render its verdict in favor of the now 22-year-old woman who graduated last May from college and now lives with her parents.
The woman was 13 in 2004 when she decided to undergo surgery on her spine. The July 28, 2004 surgery involved placing hooks in the her spine onto which a metal rod would be attached to straighten her spine, so that she would no longer be required to wear a back brace. The surgery was alleged to have been negligently performed, resulting in the former soccer player’s dreams of an active life style being destroyed, and condemning her to a lifetime in a wheelchair.
The woman’s parents hired the medical malpractice law firm in December 2004, to bring a Virginia medical malpractice claim against the orthopedic surgeon who performed the spinal surgery (and others). Based on Virginia law, the medical malpractice case had to be filed by July 28, 2006, or the Virginia statute of limitations would otherwise preclude the lawsuit.
The Virginia medical malpractice lawyers initially filed the malpractice lawsuit in the Richmond Circuit Court on July 24, 2006. The case was captioned in the names of the woman’s parents on behalf of their daughter. The medical malpractice defendants moved to dismiss the case, alleging that it had been improperly captioned. The defendants’ motion to dismiss was granted and the lawsuit was dismissed.
On October 25, 2006, the plaintiffs’ lawyers filed a second medical malpractice lawsuit that captioned the case in the woman’s name, by her parents and next friends, along with the parents individually. This second case was dismissed because it had been filed after the statute of limitations had expired. A subsequent appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court was unsuccessful.
The $4 million Virginia legal malpractice verdict will likely be reduced to $1.75 million, which was the cap on damages in medical malpractice claims in effect in Virginia on the date of the alleged medical malpractice incident (the damages recoverable in a legal malpractice claim are often limited to the amount that the plaintiff(s) would have recovered had the legal malpractice not occurred). The legal malpractice defendants have until October 11, 2013 to file post-trial motions.
After the legal malpractice verdict was announced, the woman stated, “It has been a long time coming. It’s been nine years since I got hurt. We never thought it would take this long to get to court. I was huge into soccer. Sports was my whole life and, after I got hurt, my entire life turned to academics. I started to realize my potential for what I could accomplish with my brain rather than just my physical ability. Slowly, you kind of just embrace it and realize this is the rest of your life, and you can just keep on going and live your life, even though it’s going to be in a wheelchair, or you can be depressed. I just decided I wasn’t going to let it hold me back.”
If you or a loved one in Virginia or in another U.S. state may have been injured due to medical malpractice, you should promptly contact a Virginia medical malpractice attorney (or a medical malpractice attorney in your state) who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.
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