Any person injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a medical professional in California needs to file their claim as soon as possible. Under California law, there are rather strict deadlines in place for when these claims must be filed. Any person who fails to file a medical malpractice claim within the statutory deadlines risks losing the ability to recover any compensation at all.

What the Law Says About Medical Malpractice Claims Limitations

Each state has specific time limitations in place for how long victims have to file claims against at-fault parties. Typically, individuals focus on the personal injury statute of limitations, but most states have slightly different roles when it comes to medical malpractice claim limitations.

When we examine California Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5, we can see that medical malpractice victims need to file their claim according to the timeframe that comes first:

  • Within one year after they discover, or should have discovered through reasonable due diligence, that their injury or illness was caused by medical negligence, OR
  • Within three years from the date of the injury or illness occurring. 

What this boils down to is that medical malpractice victims must file their claim within a year from the date of discovering what happened, and if they do not discover that they were harmed until after three years have passed from the negligent act, they will likely lose their ability to file the medical malpractice claim.

Exceptions to California’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

There are various exceptions to the statute of limitations mentioned above. The one exception to the three-year deadline surrounds cases where foreign objects, such as surgical sponges or medical instruments, get left inside a person’s body. When this occurs, the one-year discovery deadline is still in effect, but there is no overall time limit. For example, if a person discovers that a foreign object was left behind in their body eight years after the initial incident, they will have an additional year to file the claim. The three-year rule will not apply.

Another exception to the medical malpractice statute of limitations in California includes victims that are younger than six years old when the incident occurs. Even if three years have passed since the date the injury or illness occurred, the medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed so long as it is filed before the child turns eight years old.

Finally, if the defendant in the case intentionally hides the malpractice or is guilty of committing fraud in some way or another surrounding the medical malpractice claim, then the statute of limitations will be tolled (paused). 

Will You Need an Attorney for Help?

If you or somebody you care about has been injured or become ill due to the negligent actions of a medical professional, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled California medical malpractice lawyer will be able to examine the case and guide you towards the best possible path of recovering maximum compensation. This should include coverage of all medical bills, pain and suffering damages, possible lost wages, and more.