Differences Between Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death

medical malpractice and wrongful death differences

When a loved one dies due to a negligent or reckless act on the part of a medical professional, it can be difficult to determine the next steps to take. In some cases, it may seem clear that medical malpractice occurred. In others, it may be difficult to determine whether a wrongful death suit is the better course of action.

It is essential to understand the difference between medical malpractice and wrongful death, as this can help you determine whether you have a case. And before filing a claim, you should consult medical malpractice or wrongful death lawyers in Los Angeles. We’ll discuss the difference between the two, their statute limitations, and settlement amounts.

How is Medical Malpractice Different from Wrongful Death?

Medical malpractice and wrongful death are two closely related concepts in the legal world, but they have significant differences.

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional or healthcare provider, such as a doctor or nurse, fails to give care that meets the professional standard. The medical standard of care can be defined simply as the type of care that a reasonably skilled medical professional with the same education, background, and ability would have given the patient in the same situation.

Some examples of failure to provide a reasonable standard of care:

  • Missed diagnoses
  • Performing surgery on the wrong person
  • HIPAA violations
  • Not asking for and receiving informed consent from the patient
  • Releasing a patient too soon
  • Leaving surgical implements inside the patient’s body

For example, if a doctor does any of the above, they could be held liable in a medical negligence case.

On the other hand, wrongful death is when someone dies due to the actions or inaction of another person or entity. For example, if a company manufactures a defective product that causes someone’s death, it could be sued for wrongful death.

Many situations could give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit. Some examples are:

  • Negligent homicide
  • Slips and falls
  • Workplace accidents and illnesses
  • Car accidents

Comparing Medical Malpractice with Wrongful Death

While medical malpractice and wrongful death can occur due to negligence, they are different legal concepts. Medical malpractice cases are usually brought against healthcare professionals, while wrongful death cases can be brought against anyone and any organization whose actions or inaction led to someone’s death.

Even though medical malpractices can result in wrongful deaths, it is not the only reason for wrongful deaths. Wrongful death can also result from car accidents, industrial accidents, and dog bites.

Medical malpractice cases usually focus on the pain and suffering that the patient experiences. Similarly, wrongful death cases focus on the financial damages that the deceased person’s family has suffered.

Statute of Limitations

The state determines the statute of limitations on medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuits. The statute of limitations determines the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit.

In California, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is one year from the date of discovery of the injury or three years from the actual date of the injury, whichever is earlier. Meanwhile, plaintiffs should file a wrongful death lawsuit in California within two years of the incident.

Settlement Amounts

The settlement amount for medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuits depends on the injuries and other circumstances surrounding the incident. Medical malpractice victims are usually eligible to receive financial compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain.

For wrongful death cases, damages such as loss of consortium, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of earnings are often available. Sometimes, punitive damages may also be awarded. These are meant to punish the negligent party for their actions.

California does not limit the economic damages a plaintiff can receive from these types of cases. The settlement amount can reach millions depending on the merits of the case.

However, the state limits noneconomic damage due to injuries caused by the professional negligence of health care providers. The settlement should not exceed $250,000 in California.

The Importance of Consulting a Lawyer Before Filing a Claim

When a loved one dies due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, it can be difficult to know how to proceed. While filing a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim cannot bring a loved one back, it is a way to hold the negligent party accountable. Additionally, damages awarded will help the loved ones of the bereaved cover the costs that resulted from the loss, such as funeral expenses and hospital bills.

However, it’s essential to understand the differences between these two types of claims and obtain legal advice from an experienced medical malpractice or wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles before moving forward.

There are many reasons why it is important to consult with a lawyer before filing a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim. These types of cases are complex and challenging to navigate without the help of a legal professional.

A lawyer will know the ins and outs of the legal process and will be able to guide you every step of the way. Additionally, a lawyer can help you determine whether you have a strong case and what kind of compensation you may be entitled to receive.

Although medical malpractice and wrongful death as legal concepts share some similarities, they are quite different. If you believe that you have reason to file a medical malpractice or wrongful death case, get in touch with Haffner Law today for a free consultation.


Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Include Emotional Trauma?

emotional trauma in personal injury

People typically associate trauma with the death of a loved one and with natural disasters. However, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that trauma can be anything deeply distressing or disturbing. It looks different for each individual even though they witnessed or experienced the same thing. They won’t have the same degree of suffering. And issues can take days, weeks, or months to surface.

When victims seek help for psychological distress, it isn’t right to tell them to “just get over it.” Trauma is a serious concern that may result in an inability to cope with everyday situations. And there’s a chance that mental and emotional trauma of difficult situations can be compensated through a personal injury lawsuit. After all, they can also result in hospital bills and lost income.

How do mental and emotional personal injuries manifest?

Personal injuries that affect an individual’s mental and emotional health may be categorized into one of the following: traumatic brain injury, emotional trauma, or the inability to cope with reality.

Traumatic brain injuries are caused by violent collisions and heavy blows to the head. Although these are physical injuries that require medical treatment, they can also contribute to cognitive impairment. Victims might experience memory loss along with problems with concentration and reasoning. These symptoms may heal over time, but serious cases may cause permanent damage.

Emotional trauma is common among people who get into an accident or witness traumatic situations caused by someone else’s reckless actions. Symptoms may include fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, and intense feelings of anger, fear, or sadness. These may last longer than physical injuries.

The inability to cope with everyday life usually stems from visible scars, obvious limps, missing limbs, and permanent disabilities caused by an accident or a traumatic incident. The psychological distress of not being able to return to their old life may lead to mood swings and similar symptoms to emotional trauma.

What are examples of mental and emotional personal injuries?

Like how physical injuries after a bad accident should be tended to by a medical doctor, an individual’s psychological wellbeing should be checked by a mental health professional. A traumatic incident may lead to mental health issues that may be considered as mental or emotional personal injuries.

These are the most common conditions that could fall under mental personal injury:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Clinical Depression
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Phobias

If the psychological health concerns are chronic, and if they result in long-term recuperation or permanent disability, then the victim may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. They may seek compensation for emotional distress, ongoing medication and therapy, and lost wages and income.

Get a Reputable Personal Injury Lawyer to Fight for Your Rights

Defendants and their insurance companies might try to claim that an accident that they caused didn’t lead to the victim’s mental or emotional trauma. Alternatively, they might claim that the victim is faking or amplifying the symptoms of a psychological disorder linked to the personal injury.

Psychological conditions might be challenging to prove or link directly to the defendant’s careless or negligent actions. But an experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to create a strategy for the best chances of securing your compensation.

Call us today at 213-514-5681 for relentless legal representation for your mental or emotional injury case.

Wrongful Death in Aviation Accidents: 4 Key Things to Know

aviation wrongful death claims los angeles

In January 2020, the basketball world was rocked by the news that NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, together with his daughter, his daughter’s teammates, and their families. In 2021, his wife Vanessa and the family members of the other helicopter passengers won a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner/operator of the helicopter.

Apparently, the cause of the crash was pilot error due to “spatial disorientation,” according to a Fox News article.

If you plan to file a wrongful death claim, a lawyer specializing in these cases can walk you through the process and get you familiar with the legal options. This blog discusses four things to keep in mind when you plan to file a claim.

Who Can File a Lawsuit?

When a wrongful death occurs in an aviation accident, the victim’s spouse, legal guardian, a personal estate representative, and next of kin may sue the party responsible for the accident. People in the “danger zone” who experienced emotional trauma from the accident can also file a lawsuit.

How Do You Determine Liability?

Liability depends on the findings of the investigating body. In an aviation accident, the parties potentially liable are the pilots, the airline, the aircraft owner, the aircraft manufacturer, the aircraft parts supplier, the maintenance provider, and the airport operator.

When investigating an aircraft accident, two government agencies play a significant role: the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The NTSB works as a government investigation agency. It looks into accidents involving any type of mass transportation, such as buses, trains, and airplanes. It aims to determine the “probable cause” of the accident and make recommendations to improve transportation safety.

The FAA provides regulations on how to operate an air traffic control system. It can get involved when a violation of its rules leads to an aviation accident.

So, if one of the parts of the helicopter or airplane was faulty or the aircraft design was not safe for flying, the aircraft manufacturer can be liable. If the pilot was under the influence or negligent of flying conditions, he could be held liable for the accident. A lawyer will help you determine who to sue.

How Will the Victim’s Next of Kin be Compensated?

In a wrongful death case, the victim’s estate may be compensated for losing future earnings, and for medical expenses and funeral expenses. Their next of kin may also be compensated for losing their loved one, losing prospective inheritance, losing companionship, and for the grief, mental anguish, and emotional distress they experienced.

In some jurisdictions, you may be entitled to punitive damage if the conduct that led to the accident was egregious.

What are the Limits of Filing a Case?

The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California is two years after the victim’s passing. You will lose all rights to recover monetary damage when you file beyond that.

After filing the case, the investigation can be complex and the legal process can take months before reaching a definitive conclusion on the cause of the accident. A final resolution can take up to two years. In the case of Bryant’s helicopter accident, it took more than a year to win the lawsuit.

Hire a Credible Wrongful Death Attorney in Los Angeles

A lawyer experienced in wrongful death cases investigates, collects evidence, and performs legal research to help you win your case. They will represent you in the investigation and court proceedings to ensure you get proper compensation.

Haffner Law has the legal experience to help you and your family secure the right compensation for the wrongful loss of a family member. Our team of lawyers will guide you throughout the process until you reach a successful resolution of your case.

Visit our wrongful death service page to learn about our services, or call us to speak to an attorney.


What You Need to Know About Deadly Truck Crashes

truck accidents in los angeles can be deadly

One in every ten vehicles involved in a fatal crash is a large truck. In fact, according to data gathered by the National Safety Council, in 2019, 5,005 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes around the country. That is a 43% increase from 2010.

That statistic is alarming since the people injured or killed in these crashes are likely not the drivers or passengers of trucks. And, compared to other types of vehicle crashes, there are more factors to consider when taking legal action against truck operators or trucking companies.

It can be difficult to pinpoint if and where negligence occurred in accidents involving trucks, mainly because there are several possibilities.

The Truck Driver

Truck drivers are the first and most obvious potential cause of injury-causing crashes on the road. Many of the recorded crashes involve drivers who were negligent or who had dangerous driving behavior.

In 2020, a catastrophic crash involving a FedEx truck and a bus killed five people on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Investigations are still underway. However, recent information brought forth in the lawsuit point to the driver’s use of noise-canceling headphones that impaired his ability to hear early collision warnings as the cause of the incident.

Distractions are not uncommon causes in this type of scenario. According to this video by Inside Edition, distractions are one of the top three reasons for truck driver-caused collisions.

Other reasons pointed out in the video are speeding and following too closely. These actions are especially problematic because the sheer weight and size of trucks make it considerably difficult for their drivers to react or stop in time to avoid crashes.

The following are other common reasons for driver-caused crashes:

  • Inadequate training — Drivers may not have had the right training or license to operate their vehicles.
  • Drowsy driving — Drivers may be going over the federal regulations limit on driving hours, which causes fatigue.
  • Impaired driving — Drivers who are impaired by alcohol or a drug may not correctly operate their vehicle.

That said, even if the truck driver was proven to be at fault in a crash, the trucking company that employs them may also be held liable.

The Trucking Company

If a trucking company involved in a crash was proven to have prioritized profit over safety, they can be held legally accountable as well. In fact, three of the common reasons mentioned in the previous section can be directly caused by the companies.

Inadequate driver training can be traced back to the trucking company. Drivers need to be equipped with the right knowledge and specialized skills to drive the vehicle before they are trusted with it on the roads.

Speeding and drowsy driving can also be a result of unrealistic schedules set by the trucking company. Some drivers purposefully drive faster or through bouts of drowsiness in order to follow the company’s timelines.

According to CNBC, the average verdict size in a trucking collision lawsuit of more than $1 million has increased by almost 1,000 percent from 2010 to 2018. This means juries are now awarding an average of $22.3 million, compared to $2.3 million back in 2010.

However, drivers and trucking companies are not the only ones who can be accountable.

Other Parties

Other parties such as the loading company, the vehicle manufacturer, or even the government can be held liable as well.

The loading company may have overloaded the truck or may not have secured the cargo properly, causing a crash. Faulty components or a defective truck can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Poorly maintained roads can also cause accidents.

The Final Word

Injury-causing or deadly crashes involving trucks are increasingly common. Often, in these cases, the injured parties are those not in the trucks. In cases like these, understanding the several possible causes of the crash is critical. Seeking the help of a lawyer with experience in truck crash cases is key to seeking legal remedies.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a similar incident, give us a call at 1-844-HAFFNER or 213-514-5681 so we can discuss your options.


California Wrongful Deaths From Car Accidents | Haffner Law

wrongful death by car accident lawyer los angeles

Losing a loved one in a car crash is devastating. While no amount can bring back your deceased family member, taking legal action and obtaining compensation may help get you the closure you need to move forward.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reported that in 2017 alone, 3,582 fatal crashes occurred in the state of California. Of these numbers, 3, 904 were reported dead. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you may be able to file a wrongful death suit or a survival action.

California laws surrounding this type of claim is complex, but a skilled wrongful death attorney can provide you with the support and legal advice necessary to obtain a positive outcome for your case.

What is Considered a Wrongful Death in California?

In California, wrongful deaths are defined as fatalities that result from another party’s negligence. They can arise due to many circumstances, but fatal car accidents are among the most common.

Data from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that auto accident deaths rose by 7.7 percent in 2015, resulting in approximately 35, 200 fatalities.

Getting Compensation for the Death of a Family Member

Under CACI No. 3921, eligible individuals may seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include:

  • Financial support that the victim should have given to the surviving family members
  • Burial expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • The loss of gifts and benefits the claimants are expecting to receive
  • The financial loss of household services provided by the decedent (the person who passed away)

Meanwhile, non-economic damages include:

  • The loss of affection, companionship, affection, relations, and emotional support for the family
  • The partner’s loss of the enjoyment of intimacy with the decedent
  • The loss of guidance from the decedent

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Fatal Accident

If the death of a loved one resulted from another driver’s negligence, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. For instance, if the responsible party was drunk-driving, you can pursue a wrongful death claim. This is true even if the at-fault driver is not facing criminal charges.

It’s crucial to note that only select individuals can file a wrongful death claim. These include the domestic partner, surviving spouse, and children. If none of them are available, the deceased person’s parents or siblings can file as long as they are eligible to inherit assets based on intestate succession guidelines.

In addition to the individuals mentioned above, the following can also bring a California wrongful death claim to court:

  • The decedent’s “putative spouse” (an individual with a good-faith belief that a marriage is legally valid despite their spouse being already married to a different person)
  • The children of the deceased’s putative spouse
  • The deceased individual’s stepchildren
  • The decedent’s legal guardians if the parents are deceased

The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in California is two years from the victim’s date of death. If a claim is filed after the statute has expired, it will likely be dismissed.

Filing a Survival Action According to California’s Wrongful Death Law

Similar to a wrongful death suit, a survival action is filed based on an at-fault driver’s negligence, recklessness, and intentional conduct. However, it is brought by the estate instead of an heir.

A survival action is valid if the victim lived for some time following the car accident. It can cover medical expenses, property damage, and loss of wages.

For example, suppose a person sustained a traumatic brain injury from a car accident and lived for several weeks before passing away. In that case, a survival action can cover the medical bills and loss of the wages the person would have earned if they had not been in the hospital.

Compassionate Legal Services in Los Angeles

While no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one, an experienced law firm specializing in car accidents will help get the heirs and survivors the compensation needed to cover the deceased’s medical bills, funeral costs, and economic and non-economic losses.

Because they no longer have to worry about the expenses left behind, the deceased’s loved ones can focus on healing.

Haffner Law’s team of compassionate wrongful death and car accident lawyers will provide you with support, counsel, and representation during this difficult time. Call our law office at 213-514-5681 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation today.