How to Sue for Medical Malpractice in California

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If you or someone you love has been injured or become ill due to a mistake made by a medical professional, you may be entitled to significant compensation. However, the process of securing that compensation can be incredibly complicated. You should speak to a qualified and experienced Long Beach medical malpractice attorney about your case to make sure you proceed correctly.

Who can sue for medical malpractice?

Patients who have suffered injuries due to the negligent of healthcare professionals can file for medical malpractice. There are certain elements that must be met in order for a lawsuit to move forward:

  • The standard of care of the healthcare professional was inadequate in your case. This means that the healthcare professional failed to use the level of skills, knowledge, and care that another similarly trained practitioner would use in a similar situation.
  • The breach of the standard of care caused your injuries.
  • These injuries must have caused the patient harm.

California medical malpractice statute of limitations

All states have deadlines for filing medical malpractice cases. The statute of limitations to file a California medical malpractice cases is two-fold. A medical malpractice case must be filed no later than three years from the date the injury occurs or one year after the victim discovers the injury, or should have discovered the injury.

For example, if you discover that you have been harmed by a surgical error one year after the surgery took place, you have one year from the date you discover the error to file a lawsuit, regardless of whether or not you reach the three-year overall limit.

If you discovered the surgical error two and a half years after the surgery took place, you will only have six months to file a medical malpractice claim because that would be the end of the three-year overall limit.

There are exceptions to the statute of limitations for:

  • Cases involving minors
  • If the medical professional fraudulently concealed their actions
  • If the case involves the unintentional leaving of a foreign object inside the patient

Do you have to notify the provider you plan to sue?

California law does require that the potential medical malpractice defendant (the healthcare provider who committed the mistake) be formally notified of the intention of the victim to file a case. This notice must be given at least 90 days before a lawsuit can be filed. This notice must contain:

  • The legal basis of the claim
  • The type of loss or damage sustained
  • The nature of the injuries involved

Is there a cap on damages for victims of malpractice?

In California, there is a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. These damages include things like pain and suffering, physical impairment, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, etc. The cap for these damages in a lawsuit is $250,000.

This cap has no bearing on economic damages in a medical malpractice case. The damages with no caps include:

  • Past and future medical care related to the medical malpractice
  • Lost earnings
  • Lost ability to make a living
  • Other damages that are calculable

It is vital that you secure a knowledgeable and experienced Long Beach personal injury attorney when you are pursuing a medical malpractice case. These cases can become incredibly complex and involve extensive investigation and negotiation.