What Is the Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death?

Madeleine Jones
March 11, 2019

After someone else’s negligence causes serious injuries or death, victims or surviving loved ones may have several legal remedies available to them. Nevada courts permit many different types of criminal and civil proceedings. The most appropriate type of claim between medical malpractice and wrongful death will depend on the circumstances and facts of the case, and the goals of the person filing.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is the failure of a medical practitioner or facility to fulfill the accepted standards of care for the industry, resulting in patient injury or death. Medical malpractice can refer to conduct, behaviors, or omissions by medical professionals that do not meet the standards of professional care. A doctor, nurse, surgeon, obstetrician, or any other healthcare worker could be guilty of medical malpractice. The hospital or center itself could also commit medical malpractice. A situation may meet the definition of malpractice in Nevada if it causes harm to the patient.

  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Medication mistakes
  • Surgical errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Lack of consent
  • Poor patient care
  • Birth injuries

Medical malpractice could cause a patient serious injury, illness, or death. If the incident was not fatal, the patient would only have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If, however, the defendant’s negligence took the life of the patient, surviving family members may have grounds for medical malpractice and wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit is typically the better legal option after the preventable death of a patient in Nevada.

What Is The Definition of Wrongful Death in Las Vegas?

Like all cities in Nevada, Las Vegas limits the amount a plaintiff could receive for pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice cases. The cap is $350,000, no matter how many defendants caused the injury. Since medical malpractice lawsuits come with damage caps in Nevada, but wrongful death claims do not, it is usually in a client’s best interests to file wrongful death if the malpractice was fatal.

In Nevada, the law considers a death wrongful if the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another party caused it. A wrongful death claim is a civil action certain surviving family members or the personal representative of the estate can file in pursuit of monetary damages for losses. If medical malpractice causes a loved one’s death, a surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, or parents may file a wrongful death claim. Other individuals may also have this right, if they can prove they were dependent on the deceased person.

A medical malpractice claim is solely for cases involving the negligence or wrongful acts of a medical practitioner or healthcare center. A wrongful death claim, on the other hand, can arise after anyone’s negligence causes death. A fatal car accident, workplace accident, slip and fall, fire, animal attack, or other incident involving someone else’s fault could be cause for a wrongful death lawsuit, but would not be appropriate for a medical malpractice claim.

What Damages Available: Medical Malpractice vs. Wrongful Death

One of the significant differences between medical malpractice and a wrongful death claim is the potential damages available. Aside from the medical malpractice damage cap, medical malpractice claims also will not compensate the individual for death-related losses. Only a wrongful death claim can result in compensation for reasonable funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship, lost inheritance, and mental anguish from losing a loved one. Therefore, if a loved one died in a hospital, a wrongful death claim is likely a better choice compared to medical malpractice.

Choosing Between Medical Malpractice And Wrongful Death Suits

After losing a loved one under medical circumstances, you may not know which type of claim is in your family’s best interests. Discuss your tragic loss with a wrongful death attorney for trustworthy counsel. A Las Vegas personal injury lawyer can review both options with respect to the facts of the case, and recommend the right case type for your situation. Hiring an attorney ensures you do not choose the wrong route, and instead select the one that will result in the best possible outcome.

Erik was incredibly compassionate with our family after we lost our dad. It really made us feel safe and in good hands. We needed that. I would say Cogburn Law is an outstanding firm that has its client’s interest at heart.

Jenna F.