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What you should know before filing a medical malpractice claim

A trip to the hospital is never anyone’s idea of a good time. We all know accidents can occur, even when the most highly trained medical professionals are caring for you. Maybe your doctor misdiagnosed your condition, wrote down the wrong prescription or made an error during surgery. Now you are left feeling worse than before you entered the hospital.

If your injuries require extensive medical care or hospitalization, you may be wondering if you have a case for medical malpractice. To prove medical malpractice, you must show a healthcare professional violated the standard of care. The standard of care is generally accepted procedures all medical professionals use when treating a patient afflicted with a particular ailment. If the health care worker in your case did not provide this care, you may have a case for medical malpractice.

Talk to the medical professional

Before you decide to pursue a medical malpractice claim, you should speak to the medical practitioner that administered your care. He or she might help you understand what went wrong and could provide treatment for your issue. According to FindLaw, some medical staff will perform these services without charge.

Reach out to the medical licensing board

If your situation is not remedied by talking to the medical professional, you may want to contact the appropriate medical licensing board. You cannot receive compensation from the board, but they can issue warnings or discipline the medical provider. The board may also advise you about next steps.

Determine the statute of limitations 

In California, you have three years after the injury to file a medical malpractice claim or one year after you discover the injury, whichever comes first. That means if your injury is not immediately apparent, you have a year after discovering it to file a claim.

If you are filing a claim for a minor child, the timeline is slightly different. You have three years after the injury to file a medical malpractice claim, unless the child is under six. If the child is under six, you have the three-year window, or you must file before the child’s eighth birthday, whichever provides more time.

There are some exceptions to these rules. If the heath care provider concealed the mistake or if a foreign object is left inside a patient, the clock is paused on the statute of limitations.

Establish a claim

Before you file a claim, California requires you provide 90-day notice to the medical practitioner. The notice needs to include the legal reason for the claim, the nature of the loss and the type of injury received.

If you can prove another medical professional would have provided different care, the court may find the practitioner negligent. You will need to gather evidence for this claim. Contact another health care professional to review your records and certify your claim is valid. You may also consider contacting an attorney who handles medical malpractice cases.

Damages

There are several types of damages you can seek in medical malpractice cases in California. Compensatory damages cover medical bills and lost wages. California does not have a cap on these damages. Non-economic damages can include compensation for pain, suffering, any disfigurement or physical impairment. California law limits these damages to $250,000.

There are also punitive damages. These damages punish medical professionals if they have acted fraudulently or with malice. Punitive damages are not capped for medical malpractice claims in California.

If you think you have a valid claim for medical malpractice, there are multiple ways to pursue just compensation. You do not have to suffer in silence.

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Redwood City, CA 94061

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