Virginia lawmakers pass 'certificate of merit' bills

June 1, 2005

Both branches of the Virginia General Assembly passed identical legislation designed to address the medical malpractice liability crisis recently. While the Omnibus Medical Malpractice Reform Bills HB2659 and SB1173 do not place caps on non-economic damages, they do require an expert witness to certify that a medical malpractice lawsuit has merit before it can be filed.

Both branches of the Virginia General Assembly passed identical legislation designed to address the medical malpractice liability crisis recently. While the Omnibus Medical Malpractice Reform Bills HB2659 and SB1173 do not place caps on non-economic damages, they do require an expert witness to certify that a medical malpractice lawsuit has merit before it can be filed. The bills also protect physicians who apologize to patients or their relatives from having their expression of regret used against them in court. The state's lawmakers also revised the definition of medical malpractice "so that physicians could not be sued for battery or breach of contract," according to Medical Liability Monitor (2/05).

Among the bills' other provisions: Insurers would be required to submit information about claims made against health-care providers to the state. And, any physician in the state who settles or loses three malpractice claims within a 10-year period must have his or her competency assessed by the state medical board.