What Happens After a Medical Malpractice Suit is Filed in California?

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A medical malpractice lawsuit is a claim made by a patient who believes he or she has received medical treatment that caused more harm than good.

A common cause of medical malpractice in Los Angeles is due to providers not meeting the applicable standard of care. Common examples include:

  • Amputating the wrong body part
  • Failing to diagnose a medical condition during an exam
  • Leaving sponges or medical instruments in the body after surgery
  • Performing surgery in an incompetent manner
  • Providing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of a medication
  • Doing something that a reasonable health care provider would not have done, or not doing something that a reasonable provider would have done

A Few Requirements Must Be Met

After filing a medical malpractice suit in California, the patient will be looking down an uncertain path. The process is filled with delays, hurtful accusations, and personal attacks, but hopefully, at some point, compensation negotiations will take place.

In order to file a lawsuit, the patient needs to ensure two conditions have been met:

  • The filing must have occurred within 3 years of the injury or within 1 year of discovering an injury, whichever occurs first; and,
  • A Notice of Intent to Sue must be sent in writing 90 days prior to a lawsuit being filed

CCP § 364 requires that healthcare providers are given ample notice due to the nature of their business.

A Lawsuit Has Many Moving Parts

After a lawsuit has commenced, then it is time to follow through with all of the requirements associated with filing a lawsuit.  First, the parties will exchange evidence, and gather testimony.  Then, the parties can make certain requests to the judge, or agree to attend a mediation or settlement negotiation.  If the matter cannot be resolved effectively, then both parties (as long as certain requirements are met) will have the ability to argue merits of their case in front of a judge or jury.

Mediation or a Trial?

Most lawsuits are settled out of court through mediation or direct settlement negotiations between the attorneys representing the parties.  The outcome is usually quite successful, and both parties can walk away and can put their legal worries behind them.

However, if mediation or direct settlement negotiations do not result in a settlement, then a trial is the next course of action. The majority of medical malpractice trials take place in front of a jury and can take several days or weeks to complete, depending upon the scope of medical malpractice in Los Angeles that took place.

Damages: Past, Present, and Future

If the jury decides the case in your favor, then they will likely award monetary damages based on certain principles, including:

  • Actual Hard Money Damages: This includes medical expenses incurred, time off from work due to injury, etc.
  • Future Medical Care Expenses: Some injuries are so extensive that they will require sustained or lifelong care. Courts and juries can award money for these types of injuries if sufficient proof is presented at trial.
  • Punitive Damages: This is an award that punishes a a hospital or medical care provider for reckless or malicious conduct. Receiving an award for this type of damage is extremely rare in medical malpractice cases, and is usually reserved for cases of blatant fraud, withholding of evidence, sexual assault, or other egregious conduct.
  • Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering damages, also called “non-economic damages” are limited to $250,000 in California pursuant to California’s MICRA law.

Seek the Advice of an Attorney

If you or someone you know believes that medical malpractice has occurred, you should speak with a medical malpractice attorney in Los Angeles, like those at The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. to help you move through the complexities of being injured by a doctor negligently.

Questions? Contact us