What Is The Difference Between Medical Negligence and Malpractice?



Though unintentional, the reckless actions of other people can leave you suffering serious personal injuries. Generally referred to as negligence, the recklessness of others is at the heart of most insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits filed in South Carolina. When a doctor, hospital, or other medical provider is negligent in providing for your care, it is referred to as medical malpractice. Find out more about how frequently it happens and the steps needed in filing a medical malpractice claim.


What Is Negligence?


Blacks Law Dictionary defines negligence in two ways.

  1. It can involve failing to take actions a reasonable person would in a similar situation. An example is ignoring standard safety precautions.

  2. It can also occur when one person takes actions a reasonable person would otherwise not normally take, putting others in harm's way.

In terms of a lawsuit or other legal proceedings, negligence is different from actions such as assault, as it typically happens by accident. In these cases, the at-fault party generally did not mean to cause anyone harm.


Regardless of their intentions, those guilty of negligence can be held legally liable for their actions and the damages you suffer as a result. Common examples of negligence in personal injury lawsuits include:


  • Car accidents, in which speeding, running red lights, driving drunk or while distracted, and other reckless driving behaviors, are to blame.

  • Sports and recreational accidents, in which those leading activities did not provide proper training and equipment or otherwise fail to follow standard safety practices.

  • Slip and fall accidents, in which property owners fail to maintain their property or warn visitors of wet floors and other hazards.

  • Product liability cases, in which manufacturers are negligent in failing to provide proper instructions or in not pulling defective products from shelves.


What Is Medical Malpractice?


Medical malpractice is a type of negligence. Under Section 15-79-110 of the South Carolina Statutes, it is defined as when health care providers take actions a reasonably prudent medical professional would otherwise not take in a similar situation or fail to take precautions or other actions that adversely impact patients. Doctors, nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare professionals can all be guilty of negligence, Examples include:


  • Medical misdiagnosis, which allows serious conditions to go unchecked and results in dangerous treatment delays;

  • Medical testing errors, in which results are misread;

  • Surgical mistakes and errors, such as performing the wrong procedure, operating on the wrong body part, or performing surgery on the wrong patient;

  • Anesthesiology errors, which can cause patients to awaken during procedures or suffer life-threatening complications;

  • Medication errors, which can result in dangerous drug interactions;

  • Health care associated infections, resulting from lack of proper hygiene and cleaning procedures;

  • Medical device errors, such as when machines or other equipment malfunction due to lack of proper maintenance;

  • Patient accidents and injuries, resulting from lack of proper supervision.


Medical malpractice can happen for a variety of reasons. Lack of proper staffing, hurrying through patient visits, keeping inadequate charts or records, and simple mistakes are all common causes. While medical providers may not have intentionally harmed their patients, they can be held liable for the losses they suffer as a result.


Filing A Medical Malpractice Claim


According to the National Institutes Of Health (NIH), medical malpractice is an increasingly common problem and one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Even when mistakes do not prove fatal, they can leave patients suffering serious impairments and long disabilities. In addition to impacting the overall quality of life, medical malpractice can also hasten an earlier death.


Doctors, nursing staff, diagnostic technicians, surgeons, and others at fault can all be held liable for damages you and your family suffer due to their negligent actions in a medical malpractice claim. The process for filing an insurance claim or lawsuit in this type of situation involves:


  • Proving the medical provider had a legal duty to the patient;

  • Providing they failed in this duty and were negligent due to either their actions or inactions;

  • Proving the patient suffered personal injuries and other damages as a result.


In order to do this, the best course of action is to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Steps we can take on your behalf include making a list of all people associated with the situation and potentially liable in a claim, obtaining statements from the various parties involved, obtaining copies of all medical records, and either negotiating a settlement with insurance representatives or filing a complaint through the local civil court.


Damages Available In A Medical Malpractice Claim


The term ‘damages’ refers to the different types of compensation you may be entitled to in a claim. For medical malpractice, it is generally the same as in other cases involving negligence and may include:


  • Economic damages, which compensate you for tangible costs. This includes your current medical bills and lost wages, as well as any future expenses or losses in income you are likely to incur.

  • Non-economic damages, which compensate you for intangible costs. This includes pain, suffering, scarring, disfigurement, and any loss of enjoyment in life you experience.

  • Punitive damages, which is an additional amount we can push for if the medical provider or hospital acted with gross negligence, such as ignoring standard safety procedures or obvious signs of problems.


The first step in seeking compensation for medical malpractice is to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney. At your first meeting, you will want to provide details about the incident, the impact on your life, and copies of medical records and statements showing financial losses.

Contact Our Aiken Personal Injury Attorney Today

Medical malpractice is a serious charge and handling these types of cases often proves challenging. To get the best possible results, get The Surasky Law Firm, LLC on your side. We provide the caring support you need during this difficult time and have extensive experience helping clients get the compensation they are entitled to in a claim. Find out more about how we can help you and call or contact our Aiken personal injury attorney online to request an initial consultation today.

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