What is the Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death?

There are about 16,000 claims in medical malpractice lawsuits and wrongful death against doctors every year. Someone’s negligence in a healthcare facility may cause injuries or death. Survivors can file a lawsuit concerning medical malpractice or wrongful death.

However, there is a huge difference between medical malpractice and wrongful death. Medical malpractice can cause wrongful death. However, not all wrongful death stems from a case of medical malpractice.

Medical Malpractice

The appropriate type of claim between wrongful death and medical malpractice is dependent on the objectives of the loved one’s filing. Medical malpractice refers to a healthcare practitioner’s failure to fulfill the recognized care standards for the sector, resulting in death. It may also involve a medical error in medication dosage and treatment.

A healthcare worker may be guilty of medical malpractice. The hospital may also commit medical malpractice such that various situations meet the definition of medical malpractice if it causes harm to a patient’s health. Medical malpractice law makes it possible for a patient or their loved ones to ask for compensation from harm that may result from negligence.

Wrongful Death

A loved one may be involved in an accident, making it challenging to cope with the situation. But you should not suffer in silence. If it was an accident at their workplace, there are ways of receiving compensation.

A wrongful death claim may arise if a one person’s negligence causes another person’s death. This would not be appropriate for a claim in medical malpractice. Medical malpractice specifically addresses cases of medical negligence. But wrongful death cases result from a variety of circumstances, including death caused by:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Birth injuries
  • Nursing home abuse or negligence
  • Automobile accidents caused by negligence
  • Assault (even when the actual death was an unintentional)
  • Defective medical devices
  • Recalled or dangerous vehicles
  • Recalled or dangerous food sold in restaurants or grocery stores

1. Damages in medical malpractice vs. wrongful death

One of the substantial differences between a claim in medical malpractice and wrongful death is the potential damages. Other than the damage cap of medical malpractice, claims will not compensate the patient for losses related to death.

On the other hand, wrongful death may result in compensation for funeral expenses, lost inheritance, and mental anguish from loss. If a loved one passed away in a healthcare facility, a claim of wrongful death and not medical malpractice is a better choice.

2. Choosing the right claim after losing a loved one

You may not know which one of the two claims to choose after losing a loved one which is why you should consult a wrongful death attorney for counsel. Before a decision is made, the personal injury lawyer will review the options with respect to the facts of the case. The attorney should recommend the appropriate case type for your situation.

3. Proving negligence vs. intentional death

Your attorney should establish whether a loved one’s death is due to negligence or intention, depending on the case and circumstances. The two are serious offenses that can lead to the closure of a company or a hefty fine.

To prove deliberate death, a court needs to prove intention in the form of messages where the individual who has been accused makes their intention to kill the other party. It may also involve various scenarios where the accused’s intention was to kill, which was the outcome.

4. Limitations in medical malpractice vs. wrongful deaths

There is a statute of limitations for filing a claim of wrongful death. The limit for bringing the case is 24 months from the date of your loved one’s death. If the period passes, you may be unable to file a lawsuit.

There are also financial limits to what the law allows for you to pursue medical malpractice. This limit is specific to the damage caused and sought. A financial record cannot value some damages, including suffering and emotional distress.

On the other hand, the time limit for bringing a case of wrongful death is 30 months, which can be extended from the usual statute of limitations, which is two years.

Unlike medical malpractice claims where there is a damages cap, wrongful death does not limit the damages you can receive in a case of malpractice.

Additionally, your attorney must provide the court with a certificate of merit, stating that the lawyer reviewed the case’s facts with a medical professional who agrees that the wrongful death lawsuit deserves a court hearing.

Final Thoughts

A medical malpractice lawsuit is a difficult claim to win unless you coordinate with expert witnesses and submit to a medical board review after compiling proof of evidence showing a medical professional’s breach of duty. Similarly, a wrongful claim of death is complicated because it involves limited damages. The facts surrounding the death also influence the recovery of the victim’s loved one. If you face a claim of wrongful death resulting from medical malpractice, you need an attorney with vast experience.

Contact Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano

If you are dealing with a possible medical malpractice or wrongful death claim, call Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano today at 570-348-0776. We will fight for you to get you the compensation you deserve.

Put your trust in a law firm that puts your best interests first. We offer a free case evaluation to all potential clients.

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