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Who’s Liable? The Difference Between Product Liability and Medical Malpractice

When you get hurt because a doctor was careless, that’s the definition of medical malpractice. But what happens when you get hurt because a drug was defective, or a piece of surgical equipment fails? Is there a point where a defective product case can overlap with medical malpractice? If so, how do you determine which road to take, or how to seek compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered? Learn the difference between a medical malpractice case, a defective product case, when the two overlap, and how a product liability attorney can help.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice cases fall under the umbrella of negligence. This means you have to prove a few things before you can seek compensation. Every doctor takes an oath to do no harm. This means that they have a higher duty of care towards their patients than other people have to each other. The first thing you must prove is that they were bound by this duty and that they violated it by being careless.

The second thing you have to prove is that this carelessness or irresponsibility was the direct or proximate cause of your injury. If a doctor leaves a piece of gauze inside an incision after surgery, for example, that’s negligent. If they recommend an unnecessary dangerous procedure that harms you, that can also be negligence.

Product Liability

Product liability, on the other hand, doesn’t revolve around negligence. In a product case, you need to demonstrate that a product came to market with a severe flaw that the manufacturer knew was there and did not warn you about. This can be in the form of a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or it can be a case of improper documentation that doesn’t warn you about the risks.

If this happens, and you get hurt because of the dangers associated with the product when you were using it exactly as intended, that’s a product liability case. It can even extend to failure to warn you about potential side effects of medication.

Crossover Cases

Sometimes malpractice and product liability can overlap. Consider a case where a brand new surgical technology comes out. There’s an inherent danger with the technology which the technician doesn’t know about due to poor documentation. However, had the technician been properly trained, they may have noted this danger on their own. This can result in both the product manufacturer and the clinic or hospital is liable for both malpractice and product liability.

The same could apply to medications. Perhaps you didn’t get the proper documentation about side effects because the manufacturer didn’t include it. You later find out, however, that the doctor knew said side effects were possible and also failed to warn you.

Product Liability Attorney

Pursuing these cases can get very complex very fast. Because of all the factors involved, you should never try to represent yourself. Instead, call on the services of an experienced product liability attorney. This will give you the best shot at getting significant compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional damages and more. If you’re in North Carolina and you’ve been hurt, contact Lewis & Keller for a free consultation about your case today.