Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Any individual, whom has been injured by the negligence of a medical professional, can file a medical malpractice claim to seek monetary damages. This includes injuries resulting from the actions taken by a medical professional or from injuries that resulted because the medical professional did not act promptly, or failed to take any action at all.

However, the law requires that the injured party must file a lawsuit within a specific time period. This is called the statute of limitations. Failure to file a lawsuit, or take the required legal action, such as filing a malpractice or negligence claim, where required, with an administrative government agency, could eliminate the injured parties’ legal right to recover damages. Prior to suing a doctor or other medical professional, the injured party must provide a notice of intent to sue, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 364. Due to the complex nature of medical malpractice lawsuits, if you believe you or a family member have been the victim of medical malpractice, you should contact The Law Offices of Dr. Bruce Fagel & Associates immediately for a free case evaluation.

In California, the statute of limitations concerning medical malpractice or negligence cases are very complex. In general, the injured party must start legal action within one year from the date the patient discovers or reasonably should have discovered the injury. Under certain circumstances, this deadline for filing may be extended; however, no later than three years after the malpractice or negligence occurred. If the medical malpractice claim is based upon the presence of a foreign object found inside the patient’s body, the statute of limitations does not begin until the patient discovers, or should have discovered, the foreign object. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice applies to minors six years of age and older. For medical malpractice and birth injury lawsuits involving minors below the age of six, the malpractice action must be filed within three years of the date the injury occurred or before the minor’s eighth birthday, whichever period is greater.

The three-year time period may be extended if there is fraud or intentional concealment by the defendant. In many cases, California law provides an additional extension as well. If a written notice is served to a medical professional within 90 days before the applicable statute of limitations period expires, the statute of limitations deadline will be extended by 90 days. With so much uncertainty concerning the amount of time available for the statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases, you should take the necessary steps to file a lawsuit as soon as possible.

Wrongful Death

The general statute of limitations for a wrongful death in California is one year from the date of the death. However, in the case of a medical malpractice claim, the statute of limitations could be as short as one year. In a wrongful death case against a government entity, any lawsuit must first be preceded by the filing of a government tort claim, for which there is a 180-day limitation period. Additionally, in some cases, the statute of limitations may be extended if the individual is a minor or has a mental disability. Because the statute of limitations will apply differently with each case, we encourage you to contact us immediately for a free case evaluation.

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This resource page is provided by Dr. Bruce Fagel for your information. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.