Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a medical malpractice case illustrating the importance of expert testimony in Virginia medical malpractice cases. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case should proceed to trial although the plaintiff had failed to provide sworn expert testimony in support of her claim. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff could not prevail based on the lack of sworn expert testimony and dismissed her case.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff visited the defendant medical center to undergo knee surgery. The surgery was uneventful, but afterward, the plaintiff suffered from a shortness of breath. A doctor ordered an x-ray and kept the plaintiff at the medical center for the next few days before she was discharged.
Apparently, two days after she was discharged, the plaintiff noticed that her shortness of breath was worsening and was later admitted to another medical center. While at that center, the plaintiff was diagnosed with pneumonia and doctors believed that she had suffered a stroke over the past few days. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant medical center.
Before the case reached trial, the defendant moved for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff did not present an affidavit containing sworn expert testimony in support of her claims. In response, the plaintiff provided the name of the medical expert she intended on calling at trial as well as a summary of the expert’s expected testimony. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant appealed.
On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling, holding that the plaintiff had failed to establish that she could succeed at trial. The court explained that a medical malpractice plaintiff must prove that the defendant failed to provide care that was in line with the applicable standard of care and that the defendant’s failure resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. To do this, the court explained, medical malpractice plaintiffs must present the testimony of a medical expert to assist the fact finder in understanding what the standard of care is in that particular situation. Thus, in this case, because at the time the defendant’s motion the plaintiff had no sworn expert testimony in support of her claim, the court held that the defendant’s motion for summary judgment should have been granted.
Have You Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?
If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of what you believe to have been medical malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit. Attorney Charles B. Roberts is a renowned Virginia personal injury and medical malpractice attorney with extensive experience handling all types of personal injury claims, including medical malpractice claims. To learn more, and to see how we can help you with your situation, call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation.
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