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Are Wrongful Death and Med Mal Claims the Same?

It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between wrongful death and medical malpractice claims, but there are important differences.

No one expects to become injured in an accident or worse, lose a loved one after they have seen a healthcare professional for a medical condition. The aftermath of these accidents is devastating, and it is normal for people to feel confused and not know what to do. Even when people know they can take legal action, they often do not know whether they should file a wrongful death claim, or a medical malpractice claim. Our Temecula personal injury lawyers can advise on a case, including whether a wrongful death or medical malpractice claim is more appropriate.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death occurs any time a person is in an accident that was caused by another person’s negligence and they pass away as a result. Essentially, a wrongful death claim is a personal injury claim the deceased could have filed if they had survived the accident. Only certain people are able to file a wrongful death claim in Temecula, including the deceased’s surviving spouse or domestic partner or their surviving children. In the event that there are no surviving spouses or children, anyone that has a right to the estate of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim.

A wrongful death can occur for a number of reasons. While medical malpractice can result in a wrongful death, so can a car accident or a defective product a person uses. As such, while any death related to medical care is a wrongful death claim, not all medical malpractice claims fall under the category of wrongful death.

What is a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Medical malpractice occurs any time a healthcare provider is negligent and makes an error that results in additional harm to the patient. Not every unsuccessful treatment is medical malpractice, however. Doctors and other healthcare professionals often have to try different treatment methods before they find the one that works. During this trial-and-error approach, a patient may become sicker, but that does not necessarily mean they have a medical malpractice claim.

To determine if medical malpractice took place, injured patients must determine if another doctor would have acted the same way in the same situation. If not, it means the treating doctor did not act reasonably and therefore, medical malpractice likely occurred.

A wrongful death is sometimes the result of medical malpractice. When this is the case, surviving family members must file a wrongful death claim and not a medical malpractice claim. However, when patients are harmed by medical malpractice but survive, they must file a medical malpractice claim.

Our Personal Injury Lawyers in Temecula Can Advise on Your Case

If you have been hurt by medical malpractice, or have lost a loved one, our Temecula personal injury lawyers at Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP, can advise on your case. Call us today at (951) 291-9814 or reach out to us online to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys and to learn more about how we can help with your claim.