How Do I File A Malpractice Lawsuit Against A Doctor in California?

When a patient sustains an injury or illness caused by the negligent or careless actions of a doctor or another type of healthcare provider, they deserve compensation for their losses. However, medical malpractice lawsuits in California can be challenging. Here, we want to discuss the basic steps for filing a malpractice lawsuit against the doctor, and we strongly encourage you to reach out to an attorney who can help you get through these processes.

Consultation With a Medical Malpractice Attorney

The first step is to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Santa Ana. They will evaluate your case and work to determine if you have a valid claim. Your attorney will guide you through the process of filing the claim, handling insurance carriers, and working through the lawsuit.

Statute of Limitations

In California, there are statute of limitations that sets time limits for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Generally, the lawsuit must be filed within three years from the date of injury or one year from the date the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered by the patient. However, there are certain exceptions and limitations, such as cases involving minors or cases against government entities, which may have shorter deadlines or additional requirements.

Pre-Lawsuit Requirements

California law requires the plaintiff to serve a “notice of intent to sue” on the medical provider before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. This notice must include a statement of facts, the legal basis for the claim, and an affidavit from a qualified medical expert supporting the claim. The healthcare provider has 90 days to respond to the notice.

Filing the Lawsuit

If the pre-lawsuit requirements are met and the healthcare provider fails to resolve the claim, the next step is filing the lawsuit. The complaint, which outlines the allegations and damages sought, is filed in the appropriate California court. The defendant(s), usually the healthcare provider(s), are served with a copy of the complaint.

Discovery and Investigation

After the lawsuit gets filed, the discovery phase of litigation begins. Both parties exchange relevant information and evidence through interrogatories, requests for documents, depositions, and other methods. This phase helps each side understand the strengths and weaknesses of the case.

Expert Opinions

In medical malpractice cases, expert opinions are crucial. California law requires the plaintiff to obtain a sworn opinion from a qualified medical expert supporting the claim of negligence. The expert must have sufficient knowledge, education, training, and experience in the specific area of medicine related to the alleged malpractice.

Settlement Negotiations or Trial

Throughout the process, the parties may engage in settlement negotiations to reach an agreement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to trial. The court will hear arguments, review evidence, and make a judgment based on the merits of the case.

The Overall Goal of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in California

The overall goal of filing a medical malpractice claim against a negligent medical provider is to recover the compensation a victim needs to move forward with their life. This compensation includes coverage of their medical expenses and lost wages caused by the incident, as well as compensation for any out-of-pocket short- or long-term expenses. Additionally, this compensation should help cover a medical malpractice victim’s emotional, physical, and psychological pain and suffering that they sustain as a result of the incident. Contact us for more legal guidance regarding your case.