California Medical Malpractice
When someone in California is injured or dies in a medical setting--either because of a medical professional's actions or because of his or her inaction--the patient, or his or her family, will often consider filing a California medical malpractice lawsuit.
What Is Medical Malpractice in California?
According to Wikipedia's definition of medical malpractice:
Medical malpractice is professional negligence by act or omission by a healthcare provider in which the care provided deviates from accepted standards of practice in the medical community and causes injury or death to the patient. Standards and regulations for medical malpractice vary by country and jurisdiction within countries. Medical professionals are required to maintain professional liability insurance to offset the risk and costs of lawsuits based on medical malpractice.
Do You Have a California Medical Malpractice Case?
At a basic level, you must prove two things to be successful in a California medical malpractice case:
- The doctor or medical professional treating you made a mistake
- You were harmed as a result of that mistake
In determining whether the California medical professional made a mistake, the California court will look at the medical standard of care. In other words, what is the generally accepted method of treating patients in your area with similar medical problems? For example, the standard of care for a 90-year-old food poisoning patient in California would not necessarily be the same standard of care for a 45-year-old food poisoning patient in New York.
Not only must you prove that the California doctor's act or omission was a mistake, but you must also prove that this mistake injured you.
In other words, you probably do not have a valid California medical malpractice claim if your doctor treated you according to the medical standard of care in California. And you probably would not have a valid medical malpractice claim if you were not harmed by the doctor's treatment even if it did violate the standard of care in California.
Who Can Commit Medical Malpractice in California?
Doctors, nurses, dentists, technicians, hospitals, and hospital workers can all commit medical malpractice, according to the American Bar Association.
Your California medical malpractice attorney can advise you whether you have a valid California medical malpractice claim and against whom you have a potential claim.
How Long Do You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Every state has a statute of limitations, or time period in which you can file a civil lawsuit against another party, such as a doctor, nurse, or hospital. The California medical malpractice statute of limitations is one to three years (depending upon when the injury was discovered).
If you and your California medical malpractice lawyer are unable to negotiate a settlement with the party at fault in your medical malpractice case, you should consider filing a lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out. If you do not file a lawsuit within this time period, you give up your right to sue.
Additional California Medical Malpractice Resources
American Bar Association's medical malpractice resources
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation's report on Medical Malpractice Law in the United States