What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice, sometimes referred to as medical negligence, occurs when a health care provider violates the governing standard of care when providing treatment to a patient, causing the patient to suffer an injury. Medical malpractice can result from an action taken by the medical practitioner, or by the failure to take a medically appropriate action. Examples of medical malpractice include:
- Misdiagnosis of, or failure to diagnose, a disease or medical condition
- Failure to provide appropriate treatment for a medical condition
- Unreasonable delay in treating a diagnosed medical condition
Medical malpractice actions can be brought by the injured patient against any responsible licensed health care provider, including doctors, counselors, psychologists and psychotherapists.
Limits on Malpractice Damages:
California limits noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases to $250,000.00.
Statute of Limitations:
Medical malpractice actions must be commenced within 3 years from the date of the injury, or one year from the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered the injury, whichever occurs first. If the medical malpractice action is based upon the presence of a foreign object found inside the plaintiff’s body, the statute of limitations does not start to run until the plaintiff discovers, or should have discovered, the object. The periods of limitation for medical malpractice apply to minors six years of age and older. For medical malpractice actions involving minors below the age of six, the action must be filed within three years of the date of the injury or before the minor’s eighth birthday, whichever period is greater.
Limits on Attorney Fees:
California imposes a sliding scale for plaintiffs’ attorney fees. Fees are not to exceed 40% of the first $50,000.00 recovered, 33 1/3% of the next $50,000.00, 25% of the next $50,000.00, and 15% of damages exceeding $600,000.00.
California permits and enforces contracts for arbitration of malpractice claims. A physician must be given 90 days notice of the intention of filing a malpractice suit. Upon the request of a party there is mandatory periodic payment of future damages awards in excess of $50,000.00. If the plaintiff dies before all payments have been made the judgment may be modified by the court, although payments continue to parties to whom the plaintiff owed a duty of support.
Why Use A Malpractice Lawyer:
Medical malpractice law is a highly technical field of law, and malpractice lawsuits tend to be fiercely defended by well-funded defense firms.
Medical malpractice lawsuits can be exceptionally expensive to pursue, with costs often exceeding $100,000.00. Due to the technical skills involved in prosecuting a malpractice claim, the possibility that an inexperienced lawyer may not be sufficiently conversant with the medical issues, or might make a technical error which causes a case to be lost or dismissed, and the very high costs the malpractice law firm typically must advance, an injured patient is very well served by going with a specialist firm.
Even within the specialized practice of medical malpractice law, you will find that some lawyers have subspecialties of practice, for example focusing on surgical errors, misdiagnosis, or birth trauma cases.
If you or your loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, give us a call today.