What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in California?
When you go to hospital or to a regular appointment with your physician, you expect to obtain treatment to heal or alleviate your conditions. No one expects to get worse after seeing a health care professional. However, cases of medical malpractice happen on a daily basis, leaving many people in pain, disabled or traumatized. Personal injury California law recognizes a doctor’s duty of care towards their patients, and allows the victims to pursue damages in court or out of court settlements.
What Represents Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a legal term, not connected with medicine. Thus, it is important to know the legal definition of this personal injury instance. It represents a single instance or a continued conduct of a medical professional that falls below the standard of professional competence, resulting in damages to the patient.
Some common instances of medical malpractice leading to lawsuits under personal injury California law are:
- Errors during surgery
- Misdiagnosing an illness or condition
- Failing or delaying to diagnose a fatal illness
- Prescribing the wrong dosage of a medicine
- Failure to deliver a baby in timely manner when the baby is in distress.
Although a malpractice case may appear simple to prove and win, you should always consult an experienced personal injury California law attorney. Health care institutions are represented by experienced lawyers, as well, and their purpose is to disprove your case and get it dismissed or ending with no jury award.
The Key Difficulties in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Suing a doctor or a hospital involves meeting various legal requirements. The one most patients are likely to miss is the statute of limitations. Under personal injury California law, actions for medical malpractice have a different deadline, compared to other cases.
Thus, the Code of Civil Procedure of California stipulates the following statutes of limitation:
- 3 years after the date of the injury
- 1 year after the patient discovers, or should have reasonably discovered, the injury.
There are two exceptions to the maximum time period of three years. First of all this term may be extended if the medical malpractice involves:
- Intentional concealment
- The presence of a foreign body inside the patient.
Secondly, if the injured patient is a minor under the age of 6 years old, the action may be commenced either within three years or prior to their 8th birthday, whichever period is longer.
Moreover, according to the Code of Civil Procedure, before bringing legal action against a health care provider, the plaintiff must send a notification 90 days prior to the date of initiating the proposed action.
Types of Damages You May Recover in a Medical Malpractice Case
Personal injury California law recognizes two types of damages that plaintiffs can recover from the party responsible for their losses: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to actual expenses and financial losses you incurred as you were recovering from the negative effects of the malpractice, such as:
- Hospital bills
- Surgeries, tests and other medical treatments
- Lost income for the period when you were unable to work
- Loss of income, if you are left with permanent disability preventing you to return to work.
As for non-economic losses, unfortunately they are capped to the amount of $250,000 as a result of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975. However, a proposed bill, titled Fairness for Injured Patients Act, seeks to remove this cap.
Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury California Law Attorney
Getting injured by a medical professional can be a traumatic experience. We are raised and educated to trust doctors and seek their help when we are sick and in pain. However, many patients end up more sick and in more pain than before. For them, and for their families, personal injury California law stipulates that the at-fault party must pay financial damages.
With the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney, you will be able to prove your case and get the fair compensation you deserve.