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The facts on filing a medical malpractice claim in California

The healthcare system requires a level of trust. When you fall ill, you tell healthcare professionals personal information about yourself without a second thought, seeking relief from suffering. You might require a test. Perhaps a surgeon performs a procedure. You may worry about the surgery, but you're reasonably confident in their professional ability to help you.

But let's say that trust proves false. Once in a while, even healthcare professionals make mistakes. And unlike a typo on an office memo, mistakes at a hospital can lead to patient injury or even death. This may put you in a position to file a claim for medical malpractice.

Understanding the filing process in California

If you or a loved one has suffered damages due to medical malpractice, the first thing you should do is verify that you are still within the statute of limitations for your injury. In California, you have two restrictions: either file within one year of the discovery of the injury or three years after the injury occurs.

Establishing a case

There are four things you need to prove to create a viable case for a medical malpractice suit:

  • A relationship exists between the doctor and patient
  • The owed duty of care was violated by the doctor
  • The injury was caused by the doctor's accident or omission
  • Damages accrued on your side

Before you file, you'll also need to give 90-day notice to the defendant (aka healthcare provider in question). Keep in mind that you'll most likely need an expert witness and further proof down the line, which your lawyer can help you arrange.

Getting to know California-specific laws

According to California's Legislative Information website, California is one of seven states that does not practice a charitable immunity doctrine, which means no healthcare provider or hospital is exempt from medical malpractice lawsuits.

The Golden State also allows a pure comparative negligence defense, which means the damages are reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned by a court (fault on the defendant's side and on your side). However, the defense doctrine is heavily weighted in favor of the plaintiff (aka you).

While there is no limit on economic or punitive damages, California does places a limit on non-economic damages. The maximum that can be awarded is $250,000.

Finding help you can trust

If you or a loved one are in a position to need assistance with a medical malpractice suit, seek out a lawyer with experience in this area, someone you trust to help you in this matter. Medical malpractice is a complex aspect of the law, and you deserve the best representation.

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Law Offices of Neil M. Howard
717 North Douglas Street
El Segundo, CA 90245

Phone: 424-259-4807
Fax: 310-452-6810
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We’ve successfully represented patients as north as Redding and as south as San Diego.