Sorting Out The Laws
There are three types of law, well, really four, which fall under either the Federal or the State governments.
The first is “criminal law.” If there is a criminal issue against you, it will affect your freedom. These are very serious situations in which your freedom is at stake. In a State case, a County Prosecutor determines whether charges may be filed against you while in a Federal case, the U.S. Attorney’s office would make that determination.
The next type is “civil law” which usually results in money damages or property rights. In this area of law, the State is not involved but it is an individual or a company that brings a claim. Medical malpractice comes under this category.
The third classification is “administrative law.” While these can include Federal laws, it is the State laws that are the ones that directly affect your practice as a nurse or other health care professional. If a claim is brought against your license, it will be brought by the State through the office of the Attorney General.
The fourth is “military law” which, obviously, affects only those is service to our country.
Any of these laws could affect your license as a health care professional. If you have a malpractice claim against you, it can affect your license. If you have a criminal matter, it could affect your license. Even if you owe State taxes, your license can be affected.
Just like in medicine, attorneys concentrate their practices in different areas. If you have a criminal matter, be sure to utilize a lawyer who focuses his/her practice in that area and the same with civil law. Should you have an administrative matter against your license, make sure you hire an attorney who concentrates their practice in that type of law. One place to look to see the review of an attorney is www.avvo.com.
As health care professionals, we hope we never will face a legal matter. But, if we do, it is important to know in which category of law your matter falls.