03 Jan Virginia: Medical Malpractice Insurance – a Lawyer’s Silence
In Virginia, victims of medical malpractice are entitled to know the dollar amount and other terms of liability insurance covering a defendant healthcare provider. However, as a general rule such victims and their lawyers are prohibited from disclosing such insurance coverage at trial.
Virginia’s approach to insurance coverage in personal injury cases is not followed by all states. Indeed, for differing policy reasons, other states not only allow jurors to know about the defendant’s insurance coverage, some even allow the insurer to be named as a defendant.
Despite the courtroom shroud of secrecy, it is truly rare in Virginia for a medical malpractice defendant not to have sufficient coverage. The overwhelming majority of Virginia doctors, nurses, and other individual healthcare providers either have their own insurance policies or are covered by the entity for which they work.
Insurance polices typically are in the full amount of the so-called medical malpractice “cap,” which by Virginia law is the most money for which a negligent healthcare can be held liable, regardless how much actually is awarded by the jury as fair compensation. Currently, Virginia’s “cap” for medical malpractice liability is $2,000,000.00, though that inequitable limit is expected to be increased later in 2011.