In the aftermath of a poorly handled medical procedure, family members and patients alike might be facing an uncertain landscape. Depending on the severity of the mistakes at hand, the consequences suffered could range from trauma, permanently impared functioning, follow up surgeries, and even death.
Individuals need to know their rights when it comes to seeking justice for their injuries and, when beginning their search, often come across the terms “malpractice” and “negligence.”
While all malpractice cases involve negligence, all negligence cases do not involve malpractice. Keep reading below to learn the difference between the two and which type of lawsuit might be right for your situation.
Negligence or Malpractice? How to Tell the Difference
For the average person, the terms negligence and malpractice mean essentially the same thing— at some point, someone did not do their job properly. While this is technically true, there is a more nuanced difference between the two which legal professionals are helped to when preparing a lawsuit.
The distinction is a matter of intent vs carelessness.
Medical malpractice only occurs when either the doctor, hospital, or other medical establishment can be shown to have done something careless and without regard to the known standard of care. This lack of attention to the standard must further show a clear breach of duty by a medical professional.
Examples of malpractice include:
- Engaging in the wrong procedure
- Operating on the wrong area of the body
- Performing a non-consensual surgery
- Leaving instruments within the body
In medical negligence cases, it only needs to be shown that these same professionals were careless, but does not need to be intentional or of gross misconduct.
Examples of negligence include:
- Improper sanitation
- Inattentive to patient complaints or side effects
- Lack of communication
As you can see, there will always be elements of negligence within a malpractice case, but the two are not the same. Malpractice is both more difficult to prove and a more severe offence than negligence.
How to Know if You Have a Case
It’s difficult for an individual to know if they have a case from a legal viewpoint. This is because the letter of the law has many interpretations and proving either negligence or malpractice can be tricky within the constraints put forth by the Court.
If you believe there is wrongdoing on the part of the doctor or hospital in the case of your loved one, make sure to retain as many records as possible to have ample evidence to show your future attorney. This includes medical records, hopital reports, and any other materials that can show a reduction in life quality. If a person is deceased, copies of death certificates are also needed.
A Cautionary Tale: What to Know About Medical Lawsuits
What many individuals do not realize about lawsuits involving medicine is the large amount of time and resources are needed to complete the case. This process is cost prohibitive for many individuals, especially so if the final settlement or verdict does not cover the cost of your attorneys, their time, and any needed expert reports or depositions taken during the course of litigation.
Non-lawyers are best served remembering that a medical malpractice case is not the same as a personal injury case. Medical malpractice often involves litigation— a process far more instance than filling out paperwork and working with an insurance adjuster. Many times, malpractice lawsuits will require input from several witnesses on the scene via affidavits and depositions, in addition to opinions rendered by experts in the field. This process, depending on the features of your case, could take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
However, while this warning is warranted, it is not reason to leave a case unfiled. Manythings can go wrong inside the walls of a hospital, ER, or operating room and your family deserves justice for the injuries they suffered. This includes compensation for injuries, lost life, medical bills, and potentially attorneys costs and fees. While it is a difficult situation to think of, there is often a worthwhile monetary compensation for the hardship of a medical gaffe.
Just know that the process will neither be quick, nor painless. This is why finding a lawyer that has experience, that you trust, and that will dedicate themselves to your case is an integral part of the process.
Contacting An Experienced Attorney
Having a Malpractice Attorney who knows the right information to seek from the start is integral to the success of your case. This is because there is a limited amount of discovery that can happen within a case and it’s important to make as few mistakes in the process as possible.
Bobbi Berry is an experienced malpractice attorney that can help you in the difficult first steps after deciding to file a case.
With over 25 years of litigation experience, the BBerry Law Office can discuss and handle your claims from initial assessment all the way through litigation and trial. Call (520) 347-8484 to schedule a consultation to explore your options for a fair outcome.