What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice?

More than 250,000 people die due to medical errors, making the number of wrongful deaths sore through the roof. And if that isn’t bad enough, the number of medical malpractice cases are between 15,000 and 19,000 each year. With numbers like these, it may be challenging to know the difference between wrongful death and medical malpractice.

If you’ve been searching for the key differences, the search ends here because below, you’re going to find everything that you need to know. We don’t want to leave you without the answers that you’ve been searching for.

Continue reading this brief guide for everything that you need to know.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is when a patient suffers from an injury or illness due to the negligence of their primary care physician. Before you can file a medical malpractice claim, there are some requirements that you have to meet beforehand. 

Not knowing what will qualify you for medical malpractice can leave you wasting money and time. If you find that your situation fits any of the following, you need to move forward with your medical malpractice claim.

Who Cared for You?

One of the most challenging parts of completing a medical malpractice claim is providing the documentation that proves there was a relationship between you and the doctor that you’re filing a claim against. Keep in mind that just because a physician owns the medical practice where you were treated doesn’t mean that they are the person you should file against.

You must have been seen and treated personally by the doctor and have documentation such as an invoice with the doctor’s name that treated you attached to it.

Detail Doctor’s Negligence

Once you’ve defined whether you have a claim or not comes the next hurdle that you need to climb. And that hurdle is proving that the doctor was negligent and their negligence led to your injury or illness.

You will need to provide your legal team with documentation that you weren’t ill or injured before you were treated by the doctor. If you were ill, you’d need to show that it worsened because of something the physician did.

Here are some of the most common medical malpractice problems that you may have experienced:

  • A doctor provides you with the wrong treatment causing your symptoms to worsen or lead to injury
  • Not prescribing treatment at all
  • Misdiagnosing an illness or injury
  • Knowing the risks of a specific treatment and not making the patient aware of the risks that the treatment poses
  • Leaving medical equipment inside of a patient during a surgical procedure
  • Not diagnosing a patient when the doctor is aware that there is an issue

If you found that your primary care physician did anything of these things and it affected you negatively, then you’ve got a medical malpractice claim. Now that you understand medical malpractice, we’re going to dive into the concept of wrongful death.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is when a person dies because of the negligence of someone else. And you may think that if someone dies due to medical malpractice, they’ve got to be the same thing.

Medical malpractice can cause someone’s loved ones to file a wrongful death lawsuit, but it’s not the same thing. Other causes of death that would force a person’s family to file wrongful death lawsuits include various things.


If someone has been flying on a plane and the equipment on the plane malfunctioned, then that’s a reason to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Or, if there was poor decision making or negligence on behalf of the flight crew is also a reason to file a lawsuit.

Medical Malpractice

This is when a primary care physician’s negligence causes a patient to experience severe injury or illness. In the most severe cases, the patient can die.


When someone has issues with their vehicle, including a malfunctioning brake system that leads to their death, it is wrongful death. This also falls under product liability because it is the car manufacturers’ job to ensure the vehicle is safe to operate.

For example, in 1981, Ford debuted The Pinto, which would haunt them. As a result of ill-designed gas tanks that would burst into flames, there were around 180 deaths resulting from the oversight by Ford. 

This oversight led to them recalling all of the vehicles and paying various settlements to those who were suing them.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Since the victim of the wrongful death lawsuit is deceased, it’s crucial to know who can file a lawsuit. The first group of people that can file a wrongful lawsuit is the immediate family members of the deceased. 

This would include spouses and children; if someone doesn’t have any immediate family, the next people would be their siblings or domestic partners. After those people, anyone that has been supported and needs financial support from the deceased will be the next group of people to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

When you compare wrongful death and medical malpractice, they aren’t in the same category because, as mentioned, medical malpractice is a cause that can lead to wrongful death.

Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death Explained

When it comes to medical malpractice and wrongful death comparisons, you must educate yourself about them to know what their differences are. When you have all of the information you need to know about them covered above, you can then move forward with your legal team and file your claim.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice that resulted in wrongful death, illness, or severe injury, contact Sweet Lawyers. We’ve got the experience you need on your side when it comes to everything from automobile accidents to wrongful death lawsuits.

Let us help you get the justice that you deserve.

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