Personal injury is an umbrella term for several types of injury-related cases, including medical malpractice. However, malpractice cases are among the more complicated types of personal injury cases, involving technical procedures and medical terminology. For this reason, a lawyer who focuses on medical malpractice can offer specific support.
Demonstrating Negligence in Personal Injury vs. Medical Malpractice
Any injury suit requires proving, through evidence, that the other party caused your injuries due to their carelessness and is therefore liable. Proving this is a process of several steps, demonstrating that:
- Someone owed you a duty of care
- Through action or inaction, that person violated the duty of care
- You were injured by that action or inaction
- Your injuries entitle you to compensatory damages
For personal injury, this ranges from a drunk driver T-boning you to someone failing to clean a puddle in a store, causing you to fall. In these situations, the accident would have been foreseeable, but the negligent party did not take steps to avoid them.
Medical Malpractice Standard of Care Can Be More Nuanced
Medical malpractice has the same requirements, but the breach of duty may be subtler. For instance, someone driving the wrong way easily provides a case for negligence. However, to prove medical malpractice, you must show that a medical professional violated the standard of care owed to their patient and that this violation worsened your condition or caused additional injuries.
Some examples of medical malpractice include:
- Being prescribed the wrong medication and suffering side effects
- Suffering complications after surgery because the medical professional failing to sanitize instruments
- Being misdiagnosed due to a medical practitioner ignoring a patient’s medical history
Injuries That Would Not Constitute Medical Malpractice
Examples of injuries and complications that do not indicate medical malpractice include:
- Being misdiagnosed because a patient lied about their medical history
- Suffering a known side effect from a medication
- Experiencing complications after surgery because a patient failed to disclose a previous medical condition
As the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine puts it, “A bad outcome does not mean that the standard of care was not met.” If a doctor could not have reasonably been aware of a risk and prevented it, they are unlikely to be liable.
However, if another doctor in the same field using the same resources would have behaved differently, you may be able to hold your doctor responsible. Moreover, the error has to cause injury for you to receive damages.
Medical Malpractice May Have Additional Filing Requirements
Proving negligence in medical malpractice in many states, such as New York, requires first filing a certificate of merit, per NY CPLR § 3012-A. This testifies that:
- Your attorney has reviewed your claim.
- A medical expert has been consulted about the case.
- The expert is licensed to practice medicine in this field.
- That expert confirms that your case has merit.
Since medical malpractice often centers on whether another doctor would have made the same choices, an official document from both legal and medical professionals validating your case provides you with a foundation for your claim.
Statute of Limitations
Medical malpractice can also have different statutes of limitations compared to personal injury. For instance, in New York, malpractice cases must be filed within two years and six months, according to CVP § 214-A. However, that timeline changes if the malpractice is related to a foreign object in the body after surgery. Both statutes are different from personal injury. One of our malpractice attorneys can explain your case’s time frame.
Evidence Used in Personal Injury vs. Medical Malpractice
Since all medical malpractice is a personal injury, we can utilize standard evidence such as:
- Photos of injuries
- Video surveillance
- Witness statements
- Medical records
- Research and investigation
Depending on the injury, your evidence may differ. For instance, if your injury is visible, photos may be a centerpiece in your case. By contrast, if your injury is internal, you may need to rely on other evidence, such as witness statements and imaging tests.
Medical Malpractice Relies on Expert Testimony
Much like how our firm can help you understand your legal position, medical experts and authorities can help you understand your medical position. Just as importantly, they can help other attorneys, insurance companies, and even juries recognize the wrong you suffered.
Expert medical testimony can provide key support in the form of:
- Reviewing diagnostic tests
- Analyzing injuries
- Estimating recovery time
- Highlighting the negligent act
- Identifying additional parties
Likewise, experts can go over proper procedures or emphasize staff who share responsibility, like lab techs. In short, you do not have to become an authority on your condition to file a malpractice complaint. We find the experts for you.
The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP Acts as Your Legal Translator
Explaining the difference between medical malpractice and personal injury is one of many ways we can provide clarity in your case. At the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, our foundation is communication and accessibility. We are ready to discuss your case and answer your questions. Call us with any concerns and receive a free consultation by dialing (516) 358-6900.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900