Medical Malpractice: Time Limitations

In California and is all states there exists strict time limits on when you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The time limits vary from state to state. So if you believe you have a medical malpractice claim whether in California or elsewhere it important to contact a local personal injury who handles medical negligence claims and he or she can tell you what the statute of limitations is.

A statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Most lawsuits MUST be filed within a certain amount of time. In general, once the statute of limitations on a case “runs out,” the legal claim is not valid any longer. The tragedy is that if you have a valid claim but decide to pursue it after the time limit (statute of limitations) has run out, you are out of luck. I have at least one call a week in which that is the case, someone waited to long.

The lesson from all this is: do not keep your suspicions about medical negligence / medical malpractice a secret. If you suspect that you, or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence, find a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your concerns with. Most experienced medical malpractice attorneys will provide an initial free consultation either by telephone or in person. Often times he or she will be willing to look at some medical records or review a summary that you have prepared at no charge. Our office offers this service.

One of the most important things you will likely learn by consulting with a medical malpractice attorney is the type of the probable statue of limitations for your claim. For example, in California if a medical malpractice incident involves a private healthcare provider and the victim is an adult the California Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5 provides “In an action for injury or death against a health care provider based upon such person’s alleged professional negligence, the time for the commencement of action shall be three years after the date of injury or one year after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first. In no event shall the time for commencement of legal action exceed three years unless tolled for any of the following: (1) upon proof of fraud, (2) intentional concealment, or (3) the presence of a foreign body, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect, in the person of the injured person.

For minors, not including birth related injuries, which is covered by a different statute, California Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5 provides for such minors as follows: “Actions by a minor shall be commenced within three years from the date of the alleged wrongful act except that actions by a minor under the full age of six years shall be commenced within three years or prior to his eighth birthday whichever provides a longer period. Such time limitation shall be tolled for minors for any period during which parent or guardian and defendant’s insurer or health care provider have committed fraud or collusion in the failure to bring an action on behalf of the injured minor for professional negligence. ”
For claims involving medical malpractice claims involving California state public / governmental entities the following general guideline applies to medical negligence claim being made against a a public entity (including the state of California, a county, city or special district), including employees. A written claim must be filed. The current law required that the written claim be filed within six (6) months of the loss, even if the claimant is a minor. If the claim is not approved, a legal action must then be filed within a specified time.

You should know that many medical malpractice lawyers will not take on a new case when a claimant / injured party contacts them shortly before a statute of limitations is likely to run. There are exceptions but you must understand that an personal injury attorney / medical malpractice attorney needs enough time to properly consider and evaluate your claim. It can often take weeks or months to obtain medical records and then evaluate them.

So, do not be a victim twice, if you believe you or a loved one has been hurt because of medical negligence, seek legal counsel. Please feel free to give me a call if you live in California and believe you may have a claim. You may contact me Richard M. Katz at 626-796-6333. Our website address is www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com.

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