A malpractice case in West Virginia and in most jurisdictions is usually difficult to prove and must rely on the expert testimony of physicians who practice in the specialty under scrutiny. After a medical malpractice case is filed, there follows an intensive exchange of information between the sides. Much of this may be obtained by discovery demands, but a great deal of information will be provided by each side as a matter of course.
If the information, including written expert reports and the transcripts of expert deposition testimony, shows an overwhelming or strong inclination toward a finding of negligence, that may be sufficient for the defendant's insurer to facilitate a settlement prior to the necessity of a trial. This is not an out-of-court settlement because it is achieved in the heat of the litigating of the case through the civil justice system. In addition, it is carried out under the supervision of the presiding trial judge, who will evaluate the settlement terms and approve or reject them.
A settlement of this kind occurred in Scranton, Pennsylvania recently. The Geisinger Community Medical Center and two physicians settled a lawsuit where a mother, 41, had been misdiagnosed by the doctors. Because of that misdiagnosis, she died of a heart attack hours after appearing for the second time in the emergency room. The case settled for $3.5 million.
Her family, including her surviving spouse, brought the action in Jan. 2014, roughly two years after the woman died under the defendants' care. Defendant doctors had order an appropriate cardiac evaluation, including an all-important cardiac catheterization, but one of the defendants mysteriously canceled and never rescheduled the procedure. The emergency room doctor made a diagnosis of pneumonia, and the woman went into cardiac arrest and died, about six hours after being taken to the defendants by ambulance. The case illustrates the procedure that takes place generally in West Virginia when a medical malpractice lawsuit is settled prior to trial.
Source: thetimes-tribune.com, "Scranton family receives $3.5 million in medical malpractice settlement", David Singleton, Aug. 5, 2017