When we go to the hospital or a doctor to get the medical care we need, we all have the expectation that the condition that caused us to seek that help or care in the first place, will improve. However, not all treatments go as planned and some go horribly wrong as the result of negligence on the part of the doctor, hospital or members of the medical staff. Some medical errors, tragically, result in deaths.
If your loved one has died as a result of a medical professionals negligence, error or incompetence, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against one or more at-fault parties. However, California, like other states, has laws in place, which establish the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuit California.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is essentially a law that places a time limit on a plaintiff's right to file a lawsuit seeking compensation. In other words, if you wish to file any type of civil lawsuit, there is a time limit within which you have to do so, or you lose the right to file that lawsuit. Under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.5, any lawsuit that alleges negligence on the part of a doctor or some other medical professional must be filed within three years of the date on which the injury occurred, or within one year after the plaintiff finds out about the injury including that it was caused by medical negligence, or whichever occurs first.
So, if you have just learned that your loved one died because of a medical provider's negligence or carelessness, the clock begins to tick on that one-year deadline to file the medical malpractice lawsuit. All you need to do to comply with the statute of limitations is to get the initial complaint and the paperwork that goes with it, to court. There is no requirement to conduct discovery or a detailed investigation. The complaint will typically contain the allegations and the damages or relief that is requested from the court.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit California
If the medical malpractice lawsuit in California is being filed on behalf of a child, it must be filed within three years from the date of the incident. If the lawsuit is brought on behalf of a child under the age of 6, the lawsuit must be filed within three years of the incident or before the child's eighth birthday, whichever offers the larger filing window.
So what happens if you miss the filing deadline set by the law? In a majority of situations, you may lose your right to file the medical malpractice lawsuit. This could potentially result in severe losses, particularly for family members who have suffered significant financial losses as a result of losing a primary or sole wage earner to medical negligence.
As with every law, of course, there are a few exceptions. You may be exempt from the statute of limitations if your healthcare provider went out of the way, for example, to hide details of medical errors or negligence. You may also get additional time in a case that involves a surgical error such as one where the surgeon has unintentionally left a foreign object inside a person during surgery. Something like this may not be discovered unless the patient suffers complications.
If you have lost a loved one to medical negligence and would like to obtain more information about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit or statute of limitation, please contact our experienced medical malpractice wrongful death attorneys in Orange County to have your case evaluated for free.