West Virginia

Recent Reforms Enacted (since 2003) Lowers non-economic cap to $250,000, except in cases involving loss of life, limb, or permanent physical or mental disability where cap is $500,000, adjusted for inflation. Modifies joint and several liability providing limited protection. Deducts payments received from collateral sources. Creates Certificate of Merit and strengthens expert witness qualifications. Authorizes tax credits for physicians to offset premium cost. Creates an insurer funded by a $1000 assessment per physician. Mandates state med. board to investigate physicians with 3 unfavorable judgments or with 5 judgments and settlements in 5 years. (2004) Protects statements of sympathy or apology from being admissible. (2005)
Emergency Care Provision Trauma Center: Caps all damages for injury or death at $500,000 for cases involving care necessitated by an emergency condition in which the patient enters a designated trauma center for treatment. The limit also applies to health care services rendered by a licensed EMS agency or employee.
Reform Elements In Law $250-$500K Cap
$500K Total Cap for trauma centers
Some Joint Liability
Collateral Source
Affidavit of Merit
Expert Witness
Premium subsidy
I’m Sorry Law
Constitutional Status of Reforms One challenge rejected. The state Supreme Court voided some provisions, including a law that required judges to accept certain non-unanimous, majority jury decisions. The ruling did not impact major provisions of recent reforms. (2005)
Change in Insurance Rates AMA reports at least one insurer raised rates as much as 0 to 25% in 2004. In September of 2004, insurer NCRIC asked the state to approve a 9.5% rate increase in addition to the 9.8% increase approved December 2003. West Virginia Physicians Mutual, the largest insurer in the state,  applied for an average 15% rate reduction in Oct. of 2006.
Insurance Availability Revenue for malpractice insurers in West Virginia in 2005 exceeded costs by more than 200%, according to a report recently released by the state Insurance Commission.
Change in Physician Availability Information not available.
Change in Cases Filed/Awards 105 paid claims in 2003 or 22.8 per 1000 active nonfederal physicians. US avg. was 18.8 per 1000. 79 paid claims in 2005 or 17.2 per 1000 active nonfederal physicians. US avg. was 17.1 per 1000. (Kaiser) The state Insurance Commission reports that the number of lawsuits filed in state courts decreased from 379 in 2001 to 193 in 2005. 77 total number of paid claims for 2006 or 14.6 per 1,000 active, non-federal physicians. 59 paid claims in 2007.  The number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the state increased by 34% between 2004 and 2007 to 174 cases, according to data released recently by the West Virginia State Medical Association.
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