Filing for Medical Malpractice in Virginia: What You Need to Know

By  //  August 29, 2023

Medical malpractice can have devastating consequences for patients and their families.

When healthcare professionals fail to meet the accepted standard of care, resulting in injury or harm to a patient, it may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Filing a medical malpractice claim can be a complex process, and understanding the specific laws and regulations in your state is crucial. This article will provide valuable information on filing for medical malpractice in Virginia, including the key considerations, requirements, and steps involved.

Elements of Medical Malpractice in Virginia

In order to pursue a medical malpractice claim in Virginia, certain essential elements must be present. These elements establish the basis for proving negligence on the part of the healthcare provider. Understanding these elements is crucial before proceeding with a lawsuit.

Duty of Care

The first element to establish is that a doctor-patient relationship existed. This means that the healthcare provider had a duty to provide a reasonable standard of care to the patient.

Breach of Duty

The plaintiff must demonstrate that the healthcare provider breached their duty of care. This involves showing that the provider deviated from the accepted medical standard of care, which is the level of care that a reasonably competent healthcare professional in the same field would have provided under similar circumstances.


It must be proven that the breach of duty directly caused the patient’s injury or harm. This requires establishing a causal link between the healthcare provider’s actions or negligence and the resulting damages.


The patient must have suffered measurable damages as a result of the healthcare provider’s actions or negligence. These damages can include physical pain, emotional distress, medical expenses, loss of income, or loss of earning capacity.

Statute of Limitations in Virginia

When considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is crucial to be aware of the statute of limitations. In Virginia, there are specific time limits within which a lawsuit must be filed. Failing to file within the designated timeframe may result in the loss of your right to seek compensation. Here are the key points regarding the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases in Virginia:

Standard Statute of Limitations 

In Virginia, the general statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is two years from the date of the act or omission giving rise to the injury. This means that a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the incident.

Discovery Rule 

Virginia also follows the “discovery rule,” which allows the statute of limitations to be extended in certain cases. If the injury or harm was not immediately apparent or discoverable, the two-year period may begin from the date the injury was discovered or should have been discovered through reasonable diligence.

Statute of Repose 

Virginia has a statute of repose, which places an absolute limit on the time within which a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed. Regardless of the discovery rule, no lawsuit can be filed more than ten years from the date of the act or omission giving rise to the injury.

The Importance of Expert Testimony

Expert testimony plays a crucial role in medical malpractice cases in Virginia. It is essential to have a qualified medical expert who can provide an opinion on the healthcare provider’s actions or negligence. Here are some key points to consider regarding expert testimony:

Requirement of Expert Testimony

In Virginia, expert testimony is typically required to establish the standard of care, breach of duty, and causation in a medical malpractice case. The expert must be qualified in the same field of medicine as the defendant and possess sufficient knowledge, training, and experience to provide an opinion.

Pre-Suit Review

Before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Virginia, the plaintiff must conduct a pre-suit review. This involves obtaining an expert opinion, which is filed along with the notice of intent to sue. The expert’s opinion must establish that the healthcare provider’s actions or negligence likely fell below the accepted standard of care and caused the patient’s injuries.

Role of the Jury

In Virginia, the jury determines whether the healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care and caused the patient’s injuries. The expert’s testimony assists the jury in understanding complex medical issues and forming an informed opinion.


Filing for medical malpractice in Virginia requires a thorough understanding of the essential elements, the statute of limitations, and the importance of expert testimony. It is important to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to navigate the complexities of the legal process successfully. By knowing the key considerations and requirements, you can take the necessary steps to protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve when medical negligence occurs.

With a law degree under his belt, Mark Scott understood very early that law communication was a relatively neglected area. He decided to help people by “translating” the language and offering information and advice in a clear, useful, and actionable manner. For this reason, instead of finding him in court, you will most likely find his name online, where he is very active and thriving as a legal columnist. His part of making the world a better place is to make the law a less convoluted maze. He aims to make it easier for people to understand when and how to seek legal counsel, how to proceed in a significant number of legal matters, and to find the proper resources so they can stand up for their rights.