We often explain how medical malpractice cases refer to civil lawsuits where an injured party (or their family) is seeking financial accountability for the consequences of medical errors. Because they are civil lawsuits, they are filed between two private parties, which can include individuals, businesses, or even public entities. Our medical malpractice lawyers in Chicago work on these cases.
In rare situations, at the same time that civil lawsuits are filed, a negligent professional may also face criminal charges. These are separate but concurrent legal matters. They do not involve one private party suing another. Instead, as in all criminal cases, it is technically the society as a whole (represented by a prosecutor) seeking accountability against someone who broke a criminal law. While the individuals directly affected by the criminal conduct may have a personal interest in ensuring criminal accountability, they technically are not a party in any criminal case.
Perhaps the most high-profile recent example of a case of malpractice against a doctor that resulted in criminal liability is that of Dr. Conrad Murray–the former personal doctor to Michael Jackson. Murray was convicted of committing crimes because his improper conduct was so obviously wrong–dispensing medication recklessly–that it rose above mere negligence.