The Difference Between Negligence and Malpractice

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If you suffered an injury because of the wrongful acts of another person or party, you may be eligible for financial compensation. This is true in cases involving both negligence and malpractice. These two concepts are similar but distinct on a legal level, although they are often used interchangeably. It’s important to know the difference before you file a claim, as each comes with a different burden of proof.

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is the failure to use ordinary care, resulting in injury or harm to others. It refers to actions or behaviors that fall short of the normal duty of care. A duty of care is a legal or ethical obligation to act toward others with an appropriate level of caution and prudence. What is appropriate is based on what a reasonably prudent person would do in the same or similar circumstances.

Proving negligence in a personal injury case requires clear and convincing evidence of four main elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation and damages. A breach or violation of the duty of care can refer to many different careless or reckless acts. If the breach of duty results in injuries, it is grounds for a lawsuit filed by the victim. Damages refer to losses suffered by the victim in the accident, such as injuries and medical bills. For a negligence claim to exist, there must be proof that the damages would not have occurred were it not for the defendant’s breach of duty.

What Is Malpractice?

The main difference between negligence and malpractice is that malpractice involves a professional standard of care. Professional standards of care are different – and often higher – than ordinary standards of care. An attorney, for example, must treat his or her clients according to the legal standards of ethics, such as by protecting a client’s best interests. A medical professional must obey a different set of standards for the proper care and treatment of a patient.

If a professional deviates from the required standards of care in his or her profession, it is known as malpractice. Malpractice claims can involve many different types of professionals, including attorneys, doctors, surgeons, police officers and financial advisors. Bringing a malpractice claim in Nebraska requires proof that the professional acted outside of the standards of care for the situation. In other words, the defendant ignored his or her professional responsibilities and caused harm to the plaintiff.

Steps Involved in Filing a Negligence or Malpractice Claim

If you’ve been wronged by someone else’s negligence or malpractice in Omaha, you have rights. Filing a civil lawsuit could lead to justice for the tort (wrongdoing) committed against you, as well as financial compensation for your related losses. You may qualify for compensation for your past and future hospital bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.

An attorney can help you prove a case involving either type of tort. As a plaintiff, the burden of proof rests with you. This means it is your responsibility to establish that what you are claiming is more likely to be true than not true. This burden of proof is known as a preponderance of the evidence. Meeting your burden of proof requires evidence such as eyewitness statements, incident reports, police reports, medical records, photographs and videos. An attorney can help you preserve and collect evidence to support your case.

Once your lawyer has identified the at-fault party, he or she can fill out the required forms and file your claim by Nebraska’s deadline. In general, this is four years from the date of the injury or injury discovery. Once your claim has been filed, your lawyer can help you prove negligence or malpractice and negotiate a settlement with the defendant. If a settlement isn’t possible, your lawyer can go to court on your behalf instead.

To learn more about the legal process involved in a negligence vs. malpractice claim, contact Knowles Law Firm today for a free consultation with an attorney.