What are the Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases?

When a medical professional makes a mistake that causes harm to a patient, it is essential for the patient and their family members to have some way to recover compensation for their losses. Generally, the only way to recover compensation in these situations is to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in civil court. Here, we want to discuss the timelines associated with filing these claims and why it is so important to speak to an attorney soon after you discover an injury or illness caused by the actions of a medical provider.

California Law and Medical Malpractice Claim Timelines

Every state is allowed to set specific timelines for how long individuals have to file lawsuits against others. For medical malpractice claims, the statute of limitations in California is worded a bit differently than the typical personal injury statute of limitations.

In this state, the deadline for filing medical malpractice claims against another party is usually one of the following:

  1. One year after the victim discovers or should have discovered with reasonable diligence that the injury or illness was caused by medical malpractice, or
  2. Three years from the date of the alleged malpractice.

It is crucial for individuals who believe they have been injured due to the negligent actions of a medical provider or medical facility to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A medical malpractice lawyer can examine the facts of your case and help determine the best steps moving forward. They will get to work on filing your claim so that you do not miss any deadlines.

Exceptions to the Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in California

There are a few exceptions written into California law that allow the medical malpractice statute of limitations to be paused (or tolled). These exceptions include the following:

  1. If the victim is a minor. In the event the medical malpractice victim was under the age of 18, then the statute of limitations will be paused until the later of one of the following:
    • three years from the date the injury occurs, or
    • the victim’s eighth birthday if they were under six years old when the incident occurred
  2. Foreign objects are left inside a person. In the event a medical provider leaves a foreign object inside of another person’s body, the statute of limitations can be paused. Often, individuals do not know about anything left inside their body until it causes problems much later after the initial procedure.
  3. Misconduct by the health care provider. There are times when a healthcare provider could commit fraud or intentionally conceal the wrongdoing in order to shield themselves from litigation. If this occurs, the statute of limitations can be paused.

Notifying Healthcare Providers

Under California law, individuals are required to give healthcare providers at least 90 days’ notice before they file a medical malpractice action against them. The notice should include the legal basis for their claim, the type of loss or losses sustained, and specific information about the nature of the injuries. This notice can be served within 90 days from the statute of limitations expiring, and doing so would extend the statute of limitations by 90 days from when the notice is served.

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