The Difference Between Malpractice and Wrongful Death

In the realms of medical treatment and legal accountability, two terms often surface with painful regularity – medical malpractice and wrongful death. While both scenarios involve the harrowing experience of loss and negligence, they are distinct legal concepts with different implications. We frequently encounter clients who are seeking clarity and justice in such cases. This blog post aims to demystify these terms, shedding light on their definitions, differences, and the legal pathways available to those seeking help.


Types of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can manifest in various forms. Each type of malpractice carries its complexities and requires a thorough investigation to establish negligence. Understanding these different forms is important, as they determine the approach and evidence needed for a successful legal claim.

1. Surgical Errors

Surgical malpractice involves mistakes made during surgical procedures, such as operating on the wrong body part, leaving surgical instruments inside the patient, or errors in suturing. These errors can lead to severe complications, prolonged recovery times, and additional medical interventions to rectify the mistakes.

2. Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to accurately diagnose a medical condition, leading to delayed or incorrect treatment. Such errors can result in unnecessary suffering, worsening of the patient’s condition, and increased medical expenses.

3. Medication Errors

Medication malpractice encompasses mistakes related to prescribing, administering, or monitoring medication. This can include giving the wrong dosage, prescribing incompatible medications, or failing to consider a patient’s allergies, potentially causing adverse reactions, complications, or worsening of the patient’s health.

4. Birth Injuries

Birth injury malpractice involves preventable injuries that occur during childbirth, affecting the baby or mother. These injuries can result from medical negligence during delivery, improper use of delivery instruments, failure to respond to fetal distress or inadequate prenatal care, leading to long-term disabilities or complications for the infant or mother.


Establishing Wrongful Death

Wrongful death occurs when someone’s death is caused by the negligent or wrongful act of another. Unlike malpractice, which specifically involves medical professionals, wrongful death can result from various scenarios, including car accidents, dangerous premises, medical malpractice, or criminal acts. 

To establish a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove that the death was caused by another’s negligence or intentional act. In such cases, the deceased person’s estate can be entitled to damages – including funeral expenses, lost income, and the like. Wrongful death claims are typically filed by the deceased’s family members. 


Types of Wrongful Death Cases

Various situations can lead to wrongful death cases. Common types include deaths resulting from motor vehicle accidents, where negligent driving, such as speeding or driving under the influence, leads to a fatal crash. Medical malpractice leading to death, product liability cases involving defective products, and criminal acts like homicide are other scenarios that can lead to wrongful death lawsuits.


Proving Wrongful Death

Proving wrongful death involves a similar process to establishing negligence. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased, breached that duty, and that the breach directly caused the death. Evidence is key in these cases, ranging from accident reports and eyewitness testimonies to medical records and expert opinions.


Statute of Limitations in Wrongful Death Cases

The statute of limitations is a critical aspect of wrongful death cases. It refers to the time frame within which a lawsuit must be filed. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim can vary. It’s important to be aware of these time limits, as failing to file within this period will likely result in losing the right to sue. Given the complexities and variations in these laws, consulting with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after the incident is vital to protect your rights and ensure your case is filed timely.


How We Could Help You

In the aftermath of wrongful death or medical malpractice, the legal journey may seem daunting. A seasoned attorney is your essential guide through this challenging process. At Vames, Wang & Sosa, our lawyers offer invaluable support by investigating incidents, gathering evidence, and identifying responsible parties. We navigate the complexities of calculating fair compensation, covering medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress. Trust us to handle all legal aspects, allowing you to focus on healing and dealing with loss.

In wrongful death and malpractice cases, our experienced attorneys can truly make a difference in securing the outcome your case deserves. Reach out to us for compassionate and expert legal assistance today.

Emery Wang

Emery Wang

Emery Wang has been a lawyer in Oregon since 2009. While attending Lewis & Clark law school, Emery worked as a Multnomah County District Attorney, and since then has been a full time personal injury lawyer.

Vames, Wang & Sosa Injury Lawyers focus on vehicle crashes, personal injury, and first-party car accident insurance claims. They have offices located in Gresham and Hillsboro.

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