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Differences Between Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Claims

The first stages of a successful lawsuit involve determining what type of claim you need to file. Knowing this provides more clarity on your next steps, like evidence to collect, experts to talk to, points of argument, and other key things. 

A common question the injury law attorneys at The Nye Law Group get during our free case evaluation sessions is how personal injury and medical malpractice claims differ. These two types of claims appear in civil courts, and it’s not rare for injury victims to confuse one for the other. Here’s what you need to know and how a lawyer can help you.

Personal Injury Claims vs. Medical Malpractice Claims

A personal injury claim is a legal demand filed by a person who has suffered damages caused by a negligent or reckless individual or entity. These parties include government entities, businesses, and other groups.

Malpractice claims tend to be more specific. A medical malpractice claim is filed when a healthcare provider or institution provides substandard care. They may have failed to take appropriate action, or took action against ethical practices, causing injuries or death.

Personal injury is an umbrella term for injuries caused by negligence, and medical malpractice can also fall under this definition. However, the nature of medical malpractice and the environment under which it occurs distinguishes it from other types of personal injuries. Here are a few other ways medical malpractice claims stand out.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations refers to the period a plaintiff has to file a claim. The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in North Carolina is three years, while medical malpractice claims have a two-year time limit.

What happens when you file a claim after this time passes? The court may decline the claim application, and the insurance company will use this as grounds for denying you compensation. Medical malpractice claims may also be more complex, but you may also have more steps and less time. You may need a lawyer to help you take action on time. 

Types of Claims Filed

Medical malpractice and personal injuries occur in different ways and therefore, the types of claims filed differ too. Common types of personal injury claims include:

In contrast, medical malpractice claims focus on healthcare-related issues. Because of this, any situations where a healthcare provider hurt you may fall under medical malpractice. Common types of medical malpractice claims include: 

  • Childbirth injury claims
  • Failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, or delayed diagnosis
  • Surgical and anesthesia errors
  • Pharmaceutical errors
  • Surgical tools left in the body cavity 

Types of Injuries Caused

Since the majority of medical malpractice cases occur within a healthcare environment, bodily injuries tend to be distinct from those of personal injury accidents.

While the injuries suffered will depend on how an individual accident happened, there are some typical examples of injuries you’re likely to find in personal injury claims. They include:

  • Broken bones
  • Head and brain injuries caused by sudden forceful impact
  • Permanent disabilities
  • Burn injuries
  • Disfigurement
  • Neck and back injuries

Medical malpractice injuries may include more illnesses, like a condition progressing due to misdiagnosis, a serious infection, or severe allergic reactions caused by a medication error. Malpractice-specific injuries include incisions or amputation of the wrong body part and brain injuries caused by anesthesia errors or asphyxia.

Possible Liable Parties

Similarly, the list of possible defendants will differ in both claims because of the environment where both types of claims arise. 

Medical malpractice defendants are likely to be healthcare providers who interacted, treated, or provided other health services. The liable party can also be an institution like a public or private hospital.

The liable parties in a personal injury claim depend on how the accident occurred and what type of personal injury claim you’ll be filing. Examples include manufacturers for product liability claims, establishment owners for premises liability claims, and drivers for car accident claims.

Medical Malpractice Claims Are More Complex 

Medical malpractice cases are more complex than personal injury cases because of the burden of proof required. You may need to prove you received care from this doctor, for example, rather than proving only that they harmed you. 

Personal injury claims are more straightforward because they only involve proving that the defendant’s breach of a duty of care caused an injury.

Medical malpractice claims are governed by entirely different laws that include medical ethics, expert witness testimonies, and affidavits. This is why you must ensure you’re filing the correct claim and partnering with the right type of attorney.  

Consult a Lawyer about Your Claim Type

Although medical malpractice is a type of personal injury, their claims process, common damages caused, and other elements of the law differ. Understanding these differences sets a proper foundation for your case.

You don’t have to determine your case type alone. Partnering with an attorney will expedite your lawsuit process because you’ll have not only an expert source of information but also professional legal representation. Get a free case evaluation with a lawyer from The Nye Law Group by calling 912-200-5230 or filling out the contact form below.



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Suite 112
Charlotte, NC

704-285-6319 get directions

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912-200-5230 get directions

402 West Trade Street,
Suite 112
Charlotte, NC

704-285-6319 get directions

119 Southern Boulevard, Savannah, GA 31405

912-200-5230 get directions
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* All Fields Required

Or Call 912-200-5230