Personal InjuryMedical Malpractice vs. Personal Injury

May 9, 2022by Aaron Allison

When you seek medical treatment, you expect hospital and doctor care to help make you well again. But, all too often, medical care is delivered with mistakes and errors that can harm patients, instead of helping them. If you have had a personal injury and clinical negligence, it can be hard to know your rights. You may be able to sue and recover for your losses, but what are the differences between medical malpractice vs. personal injury claims? This article will help you understand when medical malpractice is considered a personal injury, and what to do if you are a victim of a medical mistake. 

 

What is the Legal Definition of Personal Injury?

Most Texas personal injury cases are based on the legal principle of negligence. A personal injury lawsuit has several essential components. The case needs to prove:

  • A duty of care. The duty of care is a requirement that a person uses reasonable care to prevent harm to others. For example, drivers are required to follow the rules of the road and drive responsibly. 
  • A breach of the duty of care. Next, the case must prove that the duty of care was not fulfilled. If someone had a reason to anticipate that their actions would cause harm, they have breached the duty of care. For example, a driver may have been able to anticipate that speeding in poor weather may be risky behavior.  
  • Causation. The next step is proving that the breach of duty directly caused harm. 
  • For example, if a driver was being reckless, but did not cause an accident, there is no harm as a result of their actions. 
  • Damages. Finally, a personal injury lawsuit needs to prove the type and amount of damages that resulted from the negligence. Personal injury damages may include medical costs, lost wages, or pain and suffering.

In some cases, a court may also add “punitive” damages. These awards are over and above your actual damages and meant to add an extra penalty for extreme negligence.  

In Texas, there is a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases, so it is important to contact a Texas personal injury attorney soon, in order to get justice in your case.

 

What is the Legal Definition of Medical Malpractice?

A medical malpractice case is a specialized type of personal injury case. The core elements of a medical malpractice case are:

  • Establishing the duty of care. In most medical malpractice cases, there needs to be a documented patient/doctor relationship between the parties. This establishes that the doctor has a duty of care to the patient. For example, taking medical advice from a friend at a party does not necessarily establish the duty of care.
  • Proving negligence. A medical care provider has a responsibility to follow established medical practices when providing treatment. This may mean using medication as intended, obtaining informed consent, choosing proven and recommended treatments, and following medical hygiene protocols. All medical treatments have some element of risk, and not all of them are effective in every case; simply having a treatment that did not deliver the desired result is not medical negligence. 
  • Causation. Again, a medical malpractice case needs to prove that the patient was actually harmed due to negligence. A treatment that does not improve the condition, but does not harm the patient, may not be malpractice. For example, if a test or treatment was not delivered in time due to medical error or misdiagnosis, the patient may have a more severe health outcome than if the mistake had not been made. 
  • Damages. Finally, as with all personal injury cases, a medical malpractice lawsuit must prove damages. 

There are two types of damages in a personal injury lawsuit:

  • Economic damages. As mentioned above, economic damages can be proven with receipts, pay stubs, and bills, and may include things like medical care costs, lost wages, etc.
  • Non-economic damages. Non-economic damages must be estimated rather than added up. Damages like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and similar factors are real damages but can be harder to quantify. 

In Texas, there is a limit of $250,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. The two-year statute of limitations also applies in medical malpractice cases. 

 

Do You Need a Texas Medical Malpractice vs. Personal Injury Attorney?

If you have been injured, it can be hard to know whether you need a personal injury lawyer or medical malpractice attorney. Is medical malpractice considered personal injury, and do you need a lawyer with specific expertise?

As mentioned above, most personal injury cases are a specific type of negligence lawsuit. And medical malpractice claims are a specific type of personal injury. 

If you are suing a medical care provider, where you have established a duty of care, it will be a medical malpractice claim. You cannot sue a medical care provider for personal injury when there is an established duty of care 

Medical malpractice claims are a specialized area of the law. Medical care providers carry malpractice insurance, and their insurance company may attempt to negotiate a settlement with you. If a settlement is not reached, proving clinical negligence in court can be challenging and expensive: in many cases, you will require an expert witness to testify about current medical best practices and standards of care. The defense will have their own expert witnesses who may argue about the standard of care, as well as dispute claims of causation. Medical malpractice claims are so difficult to prove that patients lose over 80% of these cases.

When choosing an attorney for your medical malpractice vs. personal injury case, it is best to choose a lawyer with proven experience fighting and winning medical malpractice cases. Because both personal injury and medical malpractice deal with the same types of law and legal issues, a lawyer with a proven track record in medical malpractice will be skilled and qualified to handle either type of case.  

 

Why Choose Aaron Allison for Your Personal Injury or Medical Malpractice Case

If you have been a victim of personal injury and clinical negligence, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. The medical malpractice insurance company will want to settle your claim as soon as possible and may pressure you to accept their offer quickly. It is critical to have an expert attorney on your side, who knows what you are entitled to. 

Aaron Allison can negotiate the highest settlement possible, and, if a settlement can’t be reached, take your malpractice claim to court. The family-owned law firm of Aaron Allison has been fighting and winning Texas medical malpractice and personal injury claims for decades. We offer free consultations and aren’t afraid to take on tough cases. Contact us today.

Aaron Allison