Medical malpractice and personal injury law have some key similarities and differences. However, when you need a lawyer, it is essential to understand which type of law your case falls under. Otherwise, you could accidentally hire a lawyer who is inexperienced in the type of case you are pursuing.
When you or a loved one have been injured, you may be wondering what you can do to be compensated for your losses. When you’re looking to get legal advice, the first step is to determine what kind of lawyer you need so that you can find someone experienced in the field.
How to find the best personal injury lawyer.
What is Medical Malpractice and is it the same as Personal Injury?
To determine what type of lawyer you need, it’s important to understand how personal injury and medical malpractice compare:
Personal Injury Law
Personal injury law is also called tort law. It is meant to protect you if you or your property is harmed because of someone else’s actions or inactions. Personal injury law can be subdivided into separate specialized classifications, most commonly:
Medical Malpractice Law
Is medical malpractice personal injury law?
Medical malpractice is a specialized subdivision of personal injury law. So, while all medical malpractice is personal injury law, not all personal injuries are medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice refers to negligent actions committed by a health care provider which breached the standard of care in their field and ultimately caused injury to their patient. To successfully prove medical malpractice in Maryland, you must show that:
- • The healthcare provider owed you a duty of care,
- • The healthcare provider breached that duty,
- • The breach of duty was the direct cause of harm or injury suffered; and
- • That you suffered injuries or damages.
If your medical malpractice lawyer can prove these four elements, you may have a successful medical malpractice claim. If you are successful in proving these elements, there are two types of damages you can claim:
- • Economic damages: These damages are measurable, like hospital bills, lawyer fees, funeral costs, and lost wages.
- • Non-economic damages: These damages are more conceptual and difficult to turn into dollar amounts. They include emotional trauma and pain and suffering.
Similarities and Differences Between Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury
You may be wondering how medical malpractice and personal injury are different when medical malpractice is the cause of personal injury. While medical malpractice is a type of personal injury law, there are some key factors which differentiate medical malpractice from general personal injury law.
Medical malpractice an offshoot of personal injury or tort law. It may be confusing whether your case is personal injury generally or if it is included in medical malpractice because of the similarities in the types of claims. Some of those similarities include:
- • Both are considered civil, rather than criminal cases
- • Both involve claims of negligence against another person
- • Both involve the claimant, or victim, seeking to recover damages for the harm caused
- • Since medical malpractice is a subdivision of personal injury, all medical malpractice lawyers are personal injury lawyers.
While there are similarities, the differences can help you determine which type of lawyer would be best suited to handle your case. For example:
- • Medical Malpractice claims involve nuanced complexities of medical injuries and law, whereas personal injury claims are generally less complicated.
- • In personal injury cases, the negligent party often admits fault. However, hospitals and medical professionals will fight liability even when negligence appears obvious.
- • Medical malpractice claims often include hiring expert doctors to provide testimony. Because these doctors are experts in their respective fields, their fees can be very high.
- • The Maryland statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three years. In comparison, medical malpractice claims are allowed three years from the date the injury was or should have been discovered, or five years from the date of injury, whichever is sooner.
- • Maryland places general caps on non-economic damages that plaintiffs can recover. For medical malpractice cases, as of October 1, 2022, that cap will be $860,000. For personal injury that cap will be $920,000.
Do I Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer or a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you have been injured by a negligent party and have real injuries, you may need to hire a lawyer to help you recover damages. Now that we’ve gone over the differences between personal injury and medical malpractice, here are some indications to help you decide which type of lawyer is best for your case:
When You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
You might need a personal injury lawyer if you were injured by someone's negligent actions. Examples of when you may need a personal injury lawyer include:
- • A negligent driver caused a car accident with you.
- • A medical professional harmed you, but the injury wasn’t related to them providing medical treatment.
- • The person who harmed you was not a medical professional or hospital.
Some cases blur the line between personal injury and medical malpractice. If you are unsure how to categorize your claim, it is best to reach out to a medical malpractice law firm, as they will be familiar with both types of law. If your claim falls under personal injury, they may still be able to help.
When You Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
You might need to consult a medical malpractice lawyer if your injuries were caused by a medical professional while you were under their care. Examples of medical professionals who can be involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit include:
- • Doctors (neurosurgeons, cardiologists, surgeons, physicians)
- • Pharmacists
- • Nurses
- • Dentists
- • Medical technicians
- • Anesthesiologists
- • First responders (In Maryland, first responders and EMTs have some immunities to protect them from lawsuits, but they can still be sued if their actions or inactions are at a certain threshold)
Contact D'Amore Personal Injury Law to Discuss Your Case.
D'Amore Personal Injury Law has a specialized team of personal injury attorneys and medical malpractice lawyers ready to analyze your legal claim. If you are unsure whether your claim is classified as personal injury or medical malpractice, you can rest assured knowing that our law firm can confidently handle both types of claims. We have an experienced team of legal professionals within both specializations ready to discuss your case, answer your questions, and outline your legal options. Contact us today to arrange your free consultation.