What’s the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice? | Ellis Injury Law

What’s the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice?

The difference between wrongful death and medical malpractice is that wrongful death claims can arise out of many different types of accidents, and the victim must have died as a result of that accident. Medical malpractice claims, on the other hand, are more specific and can apply even if the victim is only injured, but does not die.  

Notably, our wrongful death lawyers at Ellis Injury Law know that there may be some overlap between the two claims. The surviving relatives of a victim that dies due to the negligence of a medical professional may have grounds for both a wrongful death claim and a medical malpractice claim.  

What leads to a wrongful death claim? 

A wrongful death claim results from the death of someone due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional act of another person or entity. While this is not an exhaustive list, some of the more common tragedies that lead to wrongful death claims include the following: 

As you can see, many of these examples have nothing to do with any action or inaction of a medical professional. The one thing they all have in common is that an innocent victim tragically died due to the wrongdoing of another person or entity.  

What leads to a medical malpractice lawsuit? 

On the other hand, there are a number of different scenarios that may lead to a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice involves the failure of a medical professional to provide the correct standard of care to a patient, resulting in some sort of illness or injury. It should be noted that all of these scenarios could cause the victim to die, but it is also possible that the victim is injured but still survives. Either way, whether or not the patient dies does not affect whether the medical professional is liable for medical malpractice. Here are some of the more common scenarios leading to medical malpractice lawsuits: 

  • The medical professional either misdiagnoses or fails to diagnose the victim; 
  • The healthcare practitioner makes a mistake in administering the victim’s medication, whether by administering the wrong medication, an improper dosage, or failing to administer it in a timely manner; 
  • A healthcare professional commits an error during a surgery performed on the victim; 
  • A medical professional botches the administration of anesthesia in some way; 
  • The healthcare professional performs some sort of procedure without first having consent from the victim; 
  • Poor care for the patient; 
  • The medical professional commits errors during the birthing process that injure the newborn baby; 

When both claims may apply 

Medical malpractice can cause injuries, illness, or even death. If the patient survives, then only a medical malpractice lawsuit would apply. However, if medical malpractice leads to the patient’s death, the surviving relatives of the patient may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit against the medical professional that committed the malpractice.  

Additional differences between wrongful death and medical malpractice claims 

If you believe that you have grounds for both a wrongful death claim and a medical malpractice claim, we would strongly suggest contacting a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer to discuss your options. In California, you have two years from the date of the victim’s death in which to file a wrongful death claim. For medical malpractice claims, you have three years from the date of the injury or one year from the date of discovery of the injury. When it comes to damages, California places a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages for medical malpractice claims, while no such cap exists for wrongful death lawsuits.  

Why an attorney can benefit you 

Working with an experienced wrongful death attorney that knows which steps to take at each stage of the process for both of these claims can make all the difference in your fight for justice. Your Los Angeles personal injury lawyer will also be able to advise you as to which claim might be your best option in the event that both claims are applicable to your case.  

We stand for justice and success 

We have been a staple in Los Angeles for the past 25 years. If you would like to learn more about wrongful death or medical malpractice, call us today for your free consultation. We charge you nothing unless you win, and our phones are always on.