Medical negligence and medical malpractice are both serious legal topics. Yet, is one considered worse than the other? If you or a relative are suffering from an injury from a medical professional, it is important to know the difference. It will help you determine which types of injury claims you want to file. Here’s the difference between negligence and malpractice.
What is negligence?
Negligence happens in both medical and non-medical environments. There are negligent drivers, negligent doctors, and even negligent property owners. Before specifically discussing medical negligence, you must know the definition of negligence in more broad personal injury claims.
Negligence refers to a situation where a person or entity acts carelessly or recklessly and causes damage to another person or property. It can be a result of a specific action someone takes, as well as the failure to act at the appropriate time.
Proving negligence requires that you show four different elements, including:
- Duty – That a person or institution had the duty to care for you and keep you safe.
- Breach – The person or institution did not commit to their duty of care toward you.
- Causation – Because of the failure to keep you safe, you suffered from specific injuries.
- Damages – You suffer from specific damages from your injuries due to a specific breach of duties.
How is medical negligence different?
While negligence can occur in any setting, medical negligence only happens in certain situations. More specifically, to experience medical malpractice:
- You must suffer a breach of duty from a medical professional or institution.
- This medical professional or entity must have a doctor-patient relationship with you.
- The actions of this medical professional or entity must not meet the standard level of care.
What does standard level of care mean?
Few people expect their doctor to provide the world’s best healthcare. Instead, the law requires medical professionals to provide a standard of care. One way to determine whether medical negligence was the result of your injury is to ask the following questions:
- If I were to provide a medical professional with a similar background and education level the same facts, would I receive the same care?
- Have the actions of a medical professional or institution failed to meet the level of care that a reasonable professional in the same field would provide under a similar circumstance?
If you can prove in court that a medical professional or entity’s actions did not provide you with the level of care that one would expect, then your injury was likely the result of medical negligence.
However, some cases may arise due to medical malpractice. For this reason, it is important to discuss the difference between negligence and malpractice.
How is medical malpractice different from medical negligence?
Intent is an important part of medical negligence. Medical negligence is the result of an accident. More specifically, there is no intent to harm someone in a medical negligence case.
However, when a medical professional or an institution’s action differs significantly from accepted norms, you can argue that your injury was the result of malpractice. That being the case, medical malpractice is the intentional act of taking negligent action (or alternatively, negligent inaction).
Do I need to suffer injuries to sue for medical negligence or malpractice?
If you do not suffer specific damages from the actions of a medical professional, then neither case rises to the level of negligence or malpractice. In these cases, you cannot bring forward a lawsuit.
I suspect that my injuries are a result of either medical malpractice or medical negligence. What should I do next?
The difference between negligence and malpractice can be incredibly slim. They can both lead to the same injuries from a medical professional or institution. If you believe that a medical professional or hospital’s malpractice or negligence was the cause of your or a loved one’s injuries, contact us.
The attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath will gladly hear your case. Register for your free consultation by calling us at (561) 655-1990. Alternatively, you can speak to us using the live chat feature or with the free case evaluation tool below. Contact us right away so that you file within the statute of limitations for bringing forward a medical malpractice case in Florida.
No matter where you are, one of our offices can help.