What Are the Time Limitations for Filing a Medical Malpractice Case in California?

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Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to follow accepted standards of care. Patients who suffer an injury or illness due to a medical provider’s negligence may be entitled to financial compensation.

A range of circumstances may constitute medical malpractice or negligence. But when doctors fail to engage in widely accepted best practices for treatment, the victim may pursue a medical malpractice claim to seek compensation for financial and other losses.

One of the most common types of medical malpractice is misdiagnosis. If a physician fails to recognize the typical symptoms of a serious condition or dismisses them as a minor ailment, the patient may unnecessarily suffer.

Suppose that a patient presents clear signs of a heart attack. Their doctor, however, fails to order the proper tests or misinterprets some diagnostic test results. Due to the doctor’s oversight, the patient may fail to receive proper treatment or may experience unnecessary complications that lead to a long hospital stay.

Other examples of medical malpractice that may lead to legal claims include:

Speaking with a legal professional is critical if you or someone you love has been negatively affected by medical malpractice.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases

When you have a valid medical malpractice claim, it is important to begin seeking compensation as soon as possible. The statute of limitations is a legal guideline that determines the deadline by which victims must pursue a claim for damages or compensation.

California Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5 outlines how long medical malpractice victims have to seek compensation. In California, claimants must pursue their tort case within three years after their injury or illness occurred AND within one year of discovery of the malpractice. Both deadlines must be met in order to maintain a valid claim.

For instance, suppose that you developed a long-term illness because of medical negligence but did not become aware of it until much later. In this situation, you would have up to three years from the date that the injury occurred to file the lawsuit as long as you did not discover the condition or the error (or should have reasonably discovered the condition) until much later. In that case, as long as the discovery of the error was less than a year ago, you would still be able to file a medical malpractice claim.

This standard of reasonable discovery can be challenging to assess. For this reason, it is always best to contact an attorney who can file your case at the soonest possible time, and always within one year of your first recognition that something may have gone wrong.

There are several very limited circumstances in which the legal time limit can be extended for filing a malpractice claim in California. They are as follows:

  • If an object was left inside the patient’s body during surgery;
  • If the medical professional intentionally hid or concealed the malpractice;
  • If the claimant can prove that the medical professional committed fraud; or,
  • If the claimant is a minor under the age of 6.

Victims have a longer time frame to begin seeking recovery in these situations. Still, speaking with a knowledgeable malpractice attorney is vital when you suspect that malpractice has occurred.

When the victim of medical negligence is under the age of six, additional legal rules apply. If the victim is younger than six, their parents can bring suit against the at-fault party within three years of the incident or until the child’s eighth birthday.

No matter the victim’s age, make sure to consult with a medical malpractice attorney about the possibility of filing a claim in California. Failing to file your claim in time could result in the forfeiture of the compensation you deserve.

Advance Notice Requirements in Medical Malpractice Cases

Under California Code of Civil Procedure §364, those who file medical negligence lawsuits in the state of California are required to provide notice to the relevant individual or institution in advance of filing a lawsuit (although there has never been any legal or other enforcement of this provision). Pursuant to that statute, the plaintiff must notify the healthcare provider at least 90 days before filing the suit.

No law specifies the particular form of the advance notice. However, the notice must include the following information:

  • The legal basis of the plaintiff’s case;
  • The types of losses the plaintiff is claiming; and,
  • Detailed descriptions of the claimant’s injuries or illness

If you need assistance drafting a legally valid advance notice document, reach out to a skilled professional in California. Do not wait until it is too late to successfully recover financial compensation in your medical malpractice case.

Contact The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq.

For a confidential legal consultation at no cost to you, contact The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. Our legal team works tirelessly as advocates for our clients. With a focus on personal injury and medical malpractice cases, we proudly represent claimants throughout the state of California. Contact us today!

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