The Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Medical Malpractice Claim

What’s the Difference? – Wrongful Death vs. Medical Malpractice

It can be difficult to understand the differences between a medical malpractice claim and a wrongful death claim.
If there’s a death relating to medical care, ALL medical malpractice cases are wrongful death cases. BUT, all wrongful death cases are NOT medical malpractice cases.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is an error on the part of health-care providers that results in an injury to a patient.
According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys, “Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor or other health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence might be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management.”
Under the law, the claim must have the following characteristics in order to be considered a medical malpractice claim:

  • A violation of the standard of care
  • An injury was caused by the negligence
  • The injury resulted in significant damages

Wrongful Death

A wrongful death claim is a claim against an individual who can be held liable for the death of the victim.
The Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School explains, “A civil action against someone who can be held liable for a death.  Any tortious injury that caused someone’s death may be grounds for a wrongful death action.  Under the common law, a claim for wrongful death had to be brought by the decedent’s survivors (usually close relatives only); modern wrongful death statutes have modified that rule.”

Words from Attorney Allen Tittle

Transcript:  Allen Tittle, Cleveland Medical Malpractice Lawyer. I want to shoot a quick video about a call I received this morning. I picked up the phone and the potential new client said, “Allen, I’m not sure if I have a wrongful death or a medical malpractice case.” So, I sort of want to shoot a video to discuss, what are the differences between the two, if any? So, first of all, if someone died as a result of negligent medical care, it is both a medical malpractice and a wrongful death claim. Meaning, if there’s a death relating to medical care, all medical malpractice cases are wrongful death cases. But, conversely, and obviously, all wrongful death cases are not medical malpractice cases. So, here is the important distinction: There are two separate statute of limitations relating to medical malpractice claims and wrongful death claims. What in the world am I talking about? So, to sort of explain that simply, if a loved one died as a result of medical care, it’s very important that you contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible because there is a one year statute of limitations relating to what’s called the survival, meaning the conscious pain and suffering of the patient involved. Now, there is the two year wrongful death statute as well. The wrongful death claim belongs to the beneficiaries, the next of kin: the wife, the mother, the children, it’s their pain that they suffered as a result of the medical malpractice. So, in sum, if someone passes away, is killed, as a result of medical malpractice, it is both a medical malpractice AND a wrongful death claim, and it’s important that you contact the best medical malpractice lawyer you can to get advice. If you’d like any more information, please visit our website,, or give us a call, 216-285-9991. Allen Tittle, Cleveland Medical Malpractice Lawyer. Thanks!

Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If your loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice or wrongful death as a result of negligence, do NOT wait to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
Due to the statute of limitations for medical malpractice and wrongful death, it is important that you start the process to seek justice right away.
To learn more, feel free to download a FREE copy of our Medical Malpractice Guide or fill out our contact form for a free,  no obligation, initial consultation. Or, feel free to call our office at (216)-285-9991 to talk with an experienced team of medical malpractice attorneys.

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In order to stop the spread of COVID-19, the staff at Tittle & Perlmuter is working remotely, instead of from our offices throughout Northeast Ohio. The good news is that our law firm is fully functional from a remote basis. If you would like to schedule a video consultation with one of our attorneys, please call us at 216-285-9991.