Wrongful death vs medical malpractice is one of the most common questions people ask personal injury lawyers.
When it comes to wrongful death and medical malpractice, there are a lot of similarities. Both wrongful death and medical malpractice are a result of negligence and both may also lead to death. However, there are some key differences between the two that you should be aware of.
Knowing the difference may help you determine which legal route is best for you should you need legal representation. Keep reading.
Wrongful Death vs Medical Malpractice
The first step in differentiating the two concepts is to understand their respective definitions first. Let’s explore them below:
Wrongful death refers to situations when a person’s carelessness or negligence results in the death of another individual. Wrongful death cases may arise from various kinds of recklessness, one of which is medical malpractice. Other reasons for wrongful death include:
- Traffic accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Accidents on the job
- Injury from a defective product
In such cases, the survivors or relatives of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. This is a civil case, not a criminal act.
The main purpose of such lawsuits is to recover damages for the wrongful death. This can include funeral and burial expenses, loss of earnings and pain and emotional damages.
Medical malpractice, on the other hand, refers to situations when medical providers’ negligence leads to the injury of a patient. In such cases, the patient can file a medical malpractice case against the medical practitioner. The term medical provider covers doctors, nurses, surgeons or anyone who renders healthcare to patients.
Both medical malpractice and wrongful death are two instances under the personal injury umbrella. However, wrongful death is a much broader term compared to medical malpractice. Not all wrongful death cases arise from medical malpractice, nor do all medical malpractice cases lead to wrongful death.
But there are instances when both cases can co-exist at the same time.
Wrongful Death with a Medical Malpractice Claim
As mentioned at an eye’s glance above, some cases of medical malpractice can lead to wrongful death. Examples of medical malpractice that can lead to unwanted fatalities include:
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
- Misinterpretation or disregard of lab results
- Unnecessary surgical procedures
- Surgical errors
- Improper medication or dosage of medication
- Premature discharge
- Failure to consider patient injury
When a wrongful death takes place due to medical malpractice, two claims can be filed:
- Medical malpractice claims. This covers the damages incurred from the time of medical malpractice until the time of death. A medical negligence claim survives the deceased and may be raised by the survivors. In this case, it shall be called a survival claim.
- Wrongful death claim. Upon death, the surviving family can file this claim to compensate for the survivor’s losses. This includes funeral, burial and other non-economic expenses like emotional pain.
Which Element of Medical Malpractice is Hardest To Prove?
When something wrong happens after a medical procedure, victims may be compelled to blame their medical provider. However, medical malpractice is more complicated than it seems. The hardest element to prove in medical malpractice is causation.
Saying that a practitioner performed subpar to the accepted standard of care is straightforward. However, the burden of proof falls on the patient or survivors to prove that the negligence caused the personal injury. Proving causation requires a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
A medical procedure gone wrong can scar one for life and even result in untimely death. If you find yourself on the receiving end of medical malpractice, seeking legal representation will help you attain justice. Kevin Sandel of Sandel Law Firm is an experienced wrongful death and medical negligence lawyer who can help. Contact us today.