Medical malpractice refers to a legal action brought against a healthcare practitioner as a result of the provider performing (or not performing) actions that were negligent or fell below the required standard of care, and the provider’s actions thereby causing harm to the patient.
Common instances include when a provider does the following:
- Diagnoses an illness incorrectly or not at all
- Mistakenly performs surgery
- Prescribes the incorrect drug or dose of a medication
- Fails to convey information about a procedure’s dangers and consequences
In California, the typical statute of limitations for filing a claim by a patient is one year from the day the harm was discovered, not to exceed three years from the date of the incident.
In California, Who Is Liable for Medical Malpractice?
All healthcare professionals and institutions licensed by the state of California are subject to its medical malpractice statutes, including:
Other healthcare facilities or professionals may be held accountable for medical malpractice, as this is not an exhaustive list.
What Kind of Damages Can a Patient Claim?
In California, victims of medical malpractice may be entitled to compensation for their losses, which may include but are not limited to the following:
- Out of pocket medical expenses for prior surgery, doctor visits, prescription drugs, or physical and occupational therapy
- Future medical care for future surgery, doctor visits, prescription drugs, or physical and occupational therapy
- Medical care at home
- Lost income
- Diminished earning potential
Victims may also be entitled to non-economic losses, including pain and suffering and diminished quality of life.
How Can a Patient Establish That a Doctor Was Negligent?
A doctor is considered to be operating negligently if they don’t use the same competence, knowledge, and caution that other reasonably careful practitioners would use in the same or similar situations.
In California, this degree of competence and awareness is commonly referred to as the “standard of care.” During a medical malpractice trial, the plaintiff generally provides evidence from expert witnesses to establish the standard of care.
The plaintiff must also show that the defendant’s negligence led to the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, it is not sufficient that a specific therapy or diagnosis was incorrect. The harm a patient experienced must have been brought on by something the doctor did or failed to do.
Patients can also use the “res ipsa loquitur” legal principle. This theory presumes that some form of negligence occurred if the defendant had sole control of the procedure, and the harm would likely not have occurred without negligence.
How a Lawyer Can Help in a Medical Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice cases are complex in that many different facts must be examined to determine whether your claim has validity and may be submitted to a court. It is crucial to understand that you have a limited window of opportunity to file a claim if you have been the victim of medical negligence.
Our legal professionals have a wealth of knowledge about medical malpractice injuries. You can hold hospital employees and other medical professionals accountable for their errors with the help of a medical malpractice attorney at The Trial Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq.
If the insurance provider declines to make a reasonable settlement offer, our medical malpractice lawyers can take your case to court. Our network of medical expert witnesses can demonstrate to a jury how medical staff members’ negligence caused your injury. Reach out to our team today.