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Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death

medical malpractice

One question we get a lot as personal injury lawyers is the difference between a medical malpractice case and wrongful death. Indeed, an act of medical negligence may lead to wrongful death, but it’s not all wrongful death cases that are from medical malpractice. So to help show the difference between the two, our Atlanta personal injury attorneys discuss medical negligence and wrongful death.

If you suffer an injury due to another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Our legal team at Calvin Smith Law can help you determine your rights to compensation and commence the process. So contact us today.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a negligent act arising from the failure of a medical practitioner to uphold the standard of care required by the law or the code of conduct of the medical profession. Healthcare providers are usually the people who commit these negligent acts. This generally includes doctors, surgeons, midwives, anesthesiologists, lab technicians, hospital staff, or pharmacists.

Any of these professionals would answer to a medical malpractice lawsuit if their carelessness or negligence harms a patient. Common examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Surgical errors
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Medication errors
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Birth injuries
  • Delayed treatment, etc.

While it is agreed that doctors cannot always guarantee the outcome of a treatment, they must always uphold the standard of care. If they do, a patient who does not like treatment outcomes cannot claim medical malpractice. Thus, a patient who wishes to allege medical negligence must prove the following:

  • That there was a doctor-patient relationship between them and the erring physician
  • That the doctor violated the duty of care imposed by law
  • That the violation caused them injuries
  • That the injuries resulted in damages. The latter could be a worsened health condition, the development of a new condition, or death.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is much broader than medical malpractice and personal injury. Wrongful death is the neglectful, careless, or unlawful act of a person that leads to the death of another person. While medical malpractice covers negligent acts that harm a person, the wrongful act has to do with their death. As such, a medical malpractice claim can translate into a wrongful death action if the patient dies.

Also, wrongful death cases stem from different negligent acts, while medical malpractice claims are restricted to matters regarding the treatment of a patient. Wrongful deaths are caused by:

  • Car accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Defective products
  • Workplace accidents
  • Premises liability cases, e.g. slip and fall accidents
  • Dog bite, etc.

Is the Compensation Claim Process the Same for a Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice Claims?

There are different processes and people involved when seeking compensation for wrongful death or medical negligence. In a medical malpractice case, the patient (victim) affected by the negligent act commences the action. It’s this victim that has to prove the elements of negligence. If they win, they will be entitled to economic and non-economic damages.

These cover:

  • Medical bills (for example, bills accrued from treating the new condition or the condition that never existed)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Transportation costs to and fro  the hospital
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Loss of income if a misdiagnosis or wrong treatment kept the victim from working

In addition, a victim in a medical malpractice case can get punitive damages. However, they must first show that the healthcare professional showed a wanton disregard for human life or had malicious intentions. The compensation process for a wrongful death claim is different.

In cases like this, it is not the victim that commences the claims process but their survivors. Usually, state laws define who legal survivors of a dead person are and the order by which they can file a wrongful death claim. If the action succeeds, the victim’s survivors will get compensated for what they lost because of the victim’s death.

Examples of this compensation are:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Loss of consortium

In addition, the survivors get compensated for funeral and burial expenses and the money spent treating the victim before they died. They may also obtain other death benefits.

Speak With an Experienced Attorney at Calvin Smith Law Today!

Whether you have a medical malpractice claim or lost a loved one to another person’s negligence, our lawyers at Calvin Smith Law are here to help you. Our Atlanta personal injury attorneys have the experience to get you the compensation you deserve. So call us today to schedule a free no-obligation consultation.

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