Why Is Medical Malpractice Handled as a Civil and Not a Criminal Case?

Medical problems can disrupt your life and leave you feeling overwhelmed and helpless, and dealing with a medical malpractice case on top of trying to heal can be difficult. Medical malpractice is any type of negligence that directly endangers the health or safety of the patient. More medical malpractice cases happen each day than you might realize, and data collected by Johns Hopkins University suggests that more than 250,000 people die each year from medical errors and negligence. This number makes medical malpractice the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Our legal professionals at Westmoreland Injury Lawyers understand how stressful it is to handle a medical malpractice problem while you are recovering. Let our experienced lawyers help with your case so you can get the justice you deserve.

What is the Standard of Care?

The legal term “standard of care” refers to the type of care you received. If your care was not appropriate or equivalent to what another physician or medical provider would have diagnosed and treated, then you may have experienced malpractice. When your lawyer is examining your case, they may speak with other medical professionals in the same field to determine if your diagnosis and treatment were standard across the medical field.

Because “standard of care” is a legal term, not all doctors know what it means. Suppose you feel you have been the victim of mistreatment or substandard treatment in a medical setting. In that case, it will benefit you to speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can to discuss your potential medical malpractice case.

What Is The Difference Between a Civil and A Criminal Case?

Like most states, in Pennsylvania, criminal and civil cases are handled differently. A criminal case requires that crimes be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt,” whereas civil cases only need to meet the standard of “the preponderance of evidence.” A civil case can be handled outside of court, while a criminal case must be handled with a trial by jury.

Because determining the medical staff’s actions or intentions is complicated, medical malpractice cases are often dealt with as civil cases, and they are commonly handled under tort law. If there is evidence that a doctor or other medical staff member intentionally harmed a patient, criminal litigation would be necessary, but typically that is not the case.

When dealing with medical malpractice, you must have a legal team with experience in this type of case. Westmoreland Injury Lawyers have dedicated professionals who want to help you through this challenging period, and we have the knowledge to do so. Our lawyers are dedicated to helping our neighbors like you in the Greensburg, PA, area with medical malpractice cases.

When Can a Medical Malpractice Case Be a Criminal Case?

Medical professionals work in a highly demanding field, especially now when there is an enormous strain on medical resources. Unfortunately, this uptick in medical attention, thanks to a global health crisis, has led to an environment that could mean more medical malpractice cases. Most are considered civil cases and can be settled outside of court, but some are criminal. A medical malpractice case can only be considered a criminal case if it is deemed that the medical professional was drastically mistaken in how they cared for their patients. This type of event is called “gross negligence,” and is often the result of an extreme case that can lead to charges against the medical worker.

The difference that makes a medical malpractice case criminal and not civil is intent. When medical negligence is the reason a patient is injured or dies, it does not necessarily mean that the doctor had the intention to harm the patient in any way, even if their method of care was not as effective as it could have been. For a case like this to be considered criminal, the doctor would have had to intentionally decide to harm the patient directly. The physician may be charged with a more serious crime in this case.

What Happens if You Suspect You Are a Victim of Medical Malpractice or a Medical Mistake?

If you suspect that your treatment or surgery was performed in a way that left you with further injuries or other bodily harm, you may be the victim of a medical mistake and have a medical malpractice case. It is never too early to contact a personal injury attorney if you have medical malpractice concerns.

When you or someone you know has suffered at the hands of a physician, hospital, or other medical facilities, you may have a case and be entitled to some form of compensation. At Westmoreland Injury, our lawyers have experience working with people who have been victims of medical malpractice and we have proven results. Contact us today to schedule a legal consultation. We will discuss with you what has happened and determine if you have a case.


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