- January 10, 2019
Patients trust their physicians to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. When a physician fails to deliver on that promise, it may leave the patient injured, impaired, or even result in their death.
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is one way to get retribution if you experience medical negligence. Learn about the California medical malpractice statute of limitations below to see if you still have time to file a claim.
The Official California Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a legal term referring to the maximum period of time after an incident in which someone may take legal action. If you do not file a claim before the designated time has passed then you may not be able to file one at all. Or, if you do, it is more likely to get struck down in court.
The California medical malpractice statute of limitations limits potential plaintiffs to filing no later than 3 years after their injury. They may also file for up to 1 year after they discover the injury.
It’s imperative to file a medical malpractice lawsuit as soon as possible after learning of the injury. Your right to file a lawsuit disappears when the clock runs out. Once you file the lawsuit, you have one year to commence the action.
Finally, California law requires plaintiffs to give the defendant at least 90 days notice of their intent to file the lawsuit. You do not need to use any particular letter formatting, but you must include:
- the legal basis for your claim
- the type of loss claimed
- the nature of the injuries you suffered
If you file the notice within 90 days of the statute of limitations’ end date, the court extends the time for commencement by 90 days.
California Medical Malpractice Law on Minor Children
Medical malpractice cases involving minor children get slightly more leeway to file. You must file a lawsuit on behalf of the minor child within 3 years from the date of injury.
However, if the child is under 6 years old when the incident occurs, you must file within 3 years or before the child turns 8 years old. The court will uphold whichever option provides a longer filing window.
The biggest difference lies in cases of fraud. The countdown clock stops temporarily during the time in which either the minor’s guardian or parent, the health care provider, or the defendant’s insurer have colluded or committed fraud while failing to file the medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of the minor.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitation for Medical Malpractice in California
Certain exceptions to California’s medical statute of limitations will pause the countdown clock for adults as well. The first is if the health care provider committed fraud by concealing their misconduct/mistake.
The second is if the lawsuit concerns the health care provider leaving a foreign object inside of a patient’s body. In this type of case, patients may file whenever they finally discover the foreign object, like a surgical sponge or medical instrument, even if it’s 10 years later. The patient then has a year from the time of discovery to file the suit.
Get Help Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in California
The California medical malpractice statute of limitations and other deadlines make filing a claim difficult for people not familiar with legal system difficult. Luckily there are many lawyers in California who can help you make a claim.
An experienced attorney can help you get compensation for things like:
- Medical bills
- lost wages
- pain and suffering
- transportation costs
- and more