It’s bad enough being injured in an accident–especially if the accident wasn’t your fault–but if your injuries are extensive, you could also lose income, lose the use of a limb, lose mental function, and be out tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs. When something like that happens, sometimes your only option is to file a lawsuit. We’re not talking about a frivolous lawsuit; we are talking about a valid complaint seeking compensation you for the struggles you face after your life has been irrevocably changed, and your body irrevocably damaged, by someone else’s negligence.
Of course, deciding to sue could be the easiest step; the hard part is deciding who will represent you.
Personal Injury vs Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Personal Injury Lawyers
Personal injury lawyers specialize in filing suits for the usual types of injuries that occur in accidents, like broken bones, sprains and strains, and head injuries. They are very good when the injury, and the effects of the injury, are fairly straight-forward.
For example, you slipped and fell while walking into a store hit your head on the pavement and suffered a severe concussion that left you unable to work for several weeks.
However, personal injury lawyers don’t necessarily have the medical knowledge or experience when it comes to more complex and les straight-forward injuries.
For example, you slipped and fell while walking into a store hit your head on the pavement and suffered a severe concussion. While on the way to the hospital, you had a stroke which damaged another part of your brain leaving you paralyzed on one side of your body. You believe the stroke was caused by the initial fall, but the store is arguing that the stroke is unrelated because you have a history of diabetes and hypertension.
Another example could be complications that arise months after the initial injury seems to have healed.
For example, you suffer a lower back injury from an automobile accident. MRIs and x-rays, of the bones and muscles in your lower back, show minor damage that seems to heal over several months. However, you also notice that you are experiencing serious urinary incontinence, which you didn’t have before the accident. You believe it has something to do with your lower back injury, but the insurance company for the other driver refuses to honor your claim because the initial damage healed months ago.
Complex issues like the ones above need someone with more advanced medical knowledge.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Medical malpractice lawyers specialize in filing suits for the types of injuries that can occur due to a medical mistake or negligence. These types of injuries are often complex because they can cause several other problems beyond the initial injury, and because it can sometimes be difficult to prove that the injury is the actual cause of the resulting problems.
Medical malpractice lawyers need to have a certain degree of medical knowledge so that they can effectively represent their clients. They don’t necessarily need to have med school-level training, but they need to know enough to be able to understand medical records and be able to find reliable expert witnesses – who can often make or break a medical malpractice case.
Unfortunately, because medical malpractice lawyers focus on medical suits, they would not normally handle the type of slip/fall/concussion/stroke case outlined above, unless the slip and fall happened as part of your medical care.
However, there are personal injury lawyers who also specialize in medical malpractice and can handle both types of cases.
Personal Injury/Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Personal injury lawyers that also specialize in malpractice are the best of both worlds when it comes to complex personal injury cases. You get someone who can represent you in a personal injury case, but also has the medical knowledge, and the skill and experience at finding reliable expert medical witnesses, that can help prove that what appears to be a minor injury is actually more serious and complex.
If you are looking into filing a personal injury claim, your best bet is to go with a firm that specializes in medical malpractice and personal injury law, so that you will have an attorney that can handle all facets of your case.
Not everyone will need a personal injury/malpractice lawyer for their case. As we stated before, if it really is a straight-forward injury, most people can get by with a basic personal injury lawyer.
However, it’s a good idea to go with a firm that specializes in both types of cases. That way, if you later discover complications that could have been caused by the initial injury, you will already have a lawyer who can handle the complexities of your situation.