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What are the basics of medical malpractice laws in California?

Do you know what the person who graduated last in their class at medical school is called?

"Doctor."

Think about it for a moment: You have no way of knowing if the doctor you just picked off a list provided by your insurance provider was in the top of their class -- or the very bottom. There's probably no way for you to even find out. You basically just have to hope that the doctor treating you at any given moment is someone who knows what they're doing.

So, what if they don't? When a doctor misses the signs of a specific condition or makes a mistake in treatment, the consequences to the patient may be minor -- or they could be tragic. That makes it wise to understand how medical malpractice claims work in California.

Here are some of the basics you should know:

  1. You have a limited time to take action regarding malpractice. You only have three years following the date of most medical injuries to file a claim and only one year after you find out (or should have realized) that you were injured. There are some exceptions, however, for specific circumstances (like when a foreign object is left inside your body following surgery).
  2. You must give the potential defendant 90 days notice before you can file suit. Your notice must explain the legal basis behind your negligence claim and detail your injuries and losses. This is generally done to encourage defendants to settle valid claims before going into court.
  3. The doctor may not be the only defendant. Depending on where and how your injuries occurred, you may also need to name as defendants other medical professionals who were in attendance, e.g., pharmacists and other personnel at the clinic or hospital where you were treated.

If you think that you have a medical malpractice claim, don't hesitate. Discuss the issue with an experienced legal advocate and learn more about how you can pursue fair compensation for your losses.

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2055 Woodside Rd., Suite 155
Redwood City, CA 94061

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