Professional malpractice cases (including medical and legal) often have special rules that vary from state to state. This is especially true when it comes to medical malpractice cases in California. Though statue of limitations laws set the maximum amount of time that can pass for one to file a claim after being injured in most personal injury accidents, the California legislature passed a separate statute to specifically address statute of limitations issues in cases which concern allegations of medical malpractice.
While an experienced Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyer can explain in further detail, California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.5 clearly states that any cause of action for medical malpractice which results in injury or death must be brought within “three years after the date of injury or one year after the plaintiff discovers, or [reasonably] should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first.”
This means that if you discover an injury from a medical procedure you underwent, or should reasonably have discovered such an injury, you will need to bring a lawsuit with one year of your realization. If the injury went reasonably undetected for more than a year, you would have up to three years from the time you first received the injury to file a claim. A knowledgable lawyer can help you determine what is reasonable and what is not.
However, despite the three year maximum time limit for bringing a medical malpractice claim in California, there are a few select instances where the statute can be extended, or “tolled”. These instances are when the doctor, hospital or health care provider has committed:
- Intentional concealment of the injury;
- A form of malpractice which results in a foreign body placed inside the injured person which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose. (For instance, when a surgeon accidentally leaves a sponge or forceps in a patient after he or she has been sewn back up.)
Under California law, there are also special statute of limitations rules for medical malpractice actions involving minors. Minors have have three years from the date of the wrongful act to file a claim, or any time prior to their eighth birthday – whichever period is longer. Therefore, a two-year-old infant could theoretically have up to nearly 6 years to bring a claim for medical malpractice. Furthermore, the time limit for for minors to bring medical malpractice claims in California can be tolled even further for “any period during which parent or guardian and defendant’s insurer or health care provider have committed fraud or collusion in the failure to bring an action on behalf of the injured minor”.
It is also important to note that rules regarding the statute of limitations may be different with regards to suing a government-owned hospital or medical facility. Suing a government actor often requires that you file an administrative claim within 6 months from the injury before can proceed with a lawsuit against the state or its employees.
The bottom line is that you should never wait until its too late to act. If you suspect that you or your child is the victim of an injury caused by medical malpractice or professional negligence, do not hesitate in immediately seeking out the advice of a qualified medical malpractice attorney who can assist you in recovering financially for injuries suffered.
For more information on medical malpractice lawsuits, contact the aggressive trial lawyers at BIKLAW today.