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Why Is Medical Malpractice A Civil Case And Not A Criminal Case?

Medical malpractice can be defined as negligence in a medical setting that endangers the health and safety of a patient. This includes not only failing to provide patients with the attention they need in a hospital or care facility but also committing surgery errors, administering unnecessary medication or treatment, ignoring symptoms, and misdiagnosing conditions.

Medical malpractice can severely injure a victim or be fatal. However, despite the serious consequences of medical malpractice, it is rarely tried as a criminal offense because it does not break the law. Any legal action against a doctor, nurse, or hospital is usually considered a civil medical malpractice case. In this kind of case, an injury victim is entitled to compensation for their medical bills and other expenses, but the defendant likely won’t face any form of criminal punishment.

Can Medical Professionals Be Held Criminally Liable?

In order for a medical malpractice incident to be tried as a criminal case, it must be proven that the doctor exhibited gross negligence in their actions. Gross negligence is when a defendant is extremely careless in their actions and continues with these actions despite knowing the high risk.

Gross negligence and criminal litigation are generally reserved for an extreme case of medical malpractice. It must be proven that a medical professional was extremely careless and reckless despite their responsibility to care for a patient. In a fatal case, an offender can be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

An instance of a doctor purposely harming a patient would be tried as a criminal offense. However, it can be difficult to prove a defendant’s intentions, especially in a medical malpractice case. It would have to be proven that the defendant’s behavior was beyond standard negligence. Since this is so difficult to prove, the majority of medical malpractice cases remain civil cases.

How Is Medical Malpractice Handled?

When a medical professional breaks the law in their practice, it’s considered a crime, and the case will go to criminal court. A judge and jury will make a verdict.

When a medical professional doesn’t break the law and is simply negligent, the case will go to civil court. The patient and the professional’s employer will make their cases to the employer’s insurance company or a judge and jury.

In any case, the patient can hire an attorney for legal representation and pursue compensation from the insurer. The attorneys from our firm handle medical malpractice cases.

What Are the Differences Between Civil and Criminal Cases?

In Maryland, the criminal court system prosecutes people or companies that break state and federal laws, preventing these people from threatening society or the state. 

In a civil case, however, the civil court system prosecutes a person or a company that was negligent in some way and is liable for the consequences of this negligence. For example, if your doctor failed to treat you for an injury and your injury worsened, this failure could be considered negligence, and the doctor could be held liable by a civil court. Some civil cases are settled outside of a civil court.

How a Lawyer from Our Firm Will Help You With Your Case

Our attorneys represent vulnerable people in our community, like medical patients who suffered medical malpractice. Since we specialize in medical malpractice cases, we’re confident we can help you with yours.

We’ve recovered many favorable settlements and verdicts for our clients by:

  • Investigating their cases for them: We work to find sources of evidence that will support and corroborate our clients’ cases, such as medical documentation and medical expert statements.
  • Determining our clients’ damages for them: Often, our clients aren’t sure which damages they can claim, so we help them determine this. Some of our clients can claim pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and related damages. Clients who lost a loved one can claim wrongful death damages.
  • Valuating our clients’ damages for them: It can be difficult for clients to determine the value of some of their damages, like their pain and suffering and other non-financial damages. We have methods for valuating these damages for our clients.
  • Negotiating fair settlements on our clients’ behalf: We also negotiate with insurers so our clients don’t have to. This way, we may obtain better settlement offers for our clients.
  • Arguing our clients’ cases in court: When insurers don’t offer good settlements, we can take them to court and argue for a verdict there.
  • Pushing for fair compensation: We always pursue fair compensation for our clients.

You can expect your lawyer to help you in the same ways.

Meeting the Deadline for Your Case

In Maryland, anyone filing a medical malpractice lawsuit has five years from the date of an incident or three years from the date of their discovery of medical malpractice to file the suit, according to Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. §  5-109. Your lawyer will help you meet this deadline.

Reach Out to Us for a Medical Malpractice Attorney

Contact Brown & Barron for help with your medical malpractice case.

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