You can think of the difference between medical malpractice and personal injury in this way: medical malpractice is a cause, and personal injury is the effect.
Personal injury refers to any bodily injury, including any injury that affects your body or mind (instead of your property). Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider’s careless or reckless treatment causes the patient serious and/or permanent personal injuries.
Differences Between Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury
Many different types of accident can cause personal injuries, including:
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall accidents
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Construction accidents
- Dog bites
- Defective products
Medical malpractice, in turn, can also occur due to various factors, including:
- Wrong or delayed diagnosis
- Medication mistakes
- Unnecessary tests or treatment
- Failure to coordinate with your other health care providers
- Failure to adequately explain risk factors of a given treatment
Medical Malpractice and Other Personal Injuries Can Be Treated Differently Under the Law
While malpractice can cause personal injuries, malpractice cases are often treated differently from other types of personal injury cases. This includes the fact that different sets of laws regulate them.
For example, as stated in Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §16.003, the statute of limitations in most personal injury cases is two years—that is, you have two years to take legal action against the party who caused your injury. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice is also two years and is listed separately in Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §74.251.
In some states, the statute of limitations differs between medical malpractice cases and all other personal injuries. In Texas, however, the time limit is the same: two years.
Seeking Compensation After Medical Malpractice Occurs
Another difference between medical malpractice and personal injury is the amount of money you can receive in non-economic damages. Non-economic damages reflect the physical and mental toll the accident had on you. They may include:
- Disability: Your injuries could have caused any type of disability. The disability can be total or partial, physical or intellectual.
- Pain and suffering: Because of the malpractice, you may have experienced physical and/or psychological distress.
- Reduced quality of life: You may have had to give up certain activities (e.g., going to parties or playing a sport) and get help with others (e.g., cooking and cleaning).
- Scarring: You could have scars caused by the malpractice or by the necessary treatment you received to treat the malpractice injuries.
In most personal injury cases, the victim can ask for as much money in non-economic damages as they feel they deserve. In malpractice cases, the amount you can collect, as codified at Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §74.301, is limited to $250,000.
Economic Damages Are Handled Differently Than Non-Economic Damages
There are no such limits on economic damages, which are the financial stressors (losses and expenditures) the accident caused. They may include:
- Loss of earning capacity: The malpractice could have permanently hindered your ability to work in your chosen field and earn a living.
- Loss of wages: The malpractice may have forced you to temporarily stay home from work, causing a short-term dip in income.
- Miscellaneous expenses: Your accident injuries could have generated other costs, such as hiring someone to look after your kids or pets while you were in the hospital.
- Medical expenses: You could have gone to a doctor or the emergency room after the accident, or you could need lifelong medical care to manage your injuries.
We Can Help You with Your Malpractice Case
Because of the unique laws surrounding medical malpractice cases, they can be even trickier to deal with than other personal injury cases. Our attorney serving McKinney can sit down with you and go through all of your legal options. This way, you know exactly what you are getting into.
We will also take care of much of the “legwork” associated with lawsuits, including:
- Gathering evidence: We will look at medical records, collect statements from witnesses and experts, and more.
- Negotiating a settlement: If the insurance company’s initial offer is too low, we will let you know and fight for a more appropriate settlement.
- Scheduling a trial: Most cases settle outside of court, but if yours does not, we are willing and able to go to court on your behalf.
- Submitting paperwork: Any time a form must be filled out and sent, your attorney will let you know or even do it for you.
Get Started on Your Personal Injury Claim Today
To learn more about your legal options, call Underwood Law Office at (972) 316-4236. We will assess your case at no charge and defer all fees until you receive compensation.