We trust that when we go to a doctor, our medical condition will improve, not worsen. For thousands of Californians, this is not always true. In California, from 2002 through 2012, there were 11,717 malpractice payments involving physicians, with an additional 3,659 payments for malpractice claims involving doctors, according to the National Practitioner Data Bank.
Doctors are human and make mistakes. However, if a San Diego physician’s mistake negatively affects your health and the physician did not act with a reasonable standard of care, you have the right to be compensated for your injuries.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional – such as a doctor, dentists, or nurse – breaches the standard of care that healthcare practitioners should follow, which causes that patient additional injury. A standard of care is the generally accepted practices and procedures that any healthcare professional treating that patient would use.
California’s Medical Malpractice Law
In 1975, California passed a historic law known as the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). This law was intended to relieve physicians of heavy medical malpractice insurance burdens by capping the non-economic damages an injured patient could receive in a malpractice lawsuit.
MICRA provides that a patient who is injured by a healthcare professional’s negligence will receive full payment for certain items, like medical bills, but not non-economic injuries (such as damages for pain and suffering or loss of consortium). Regardless of the degree of injury, a patient cannot recover more than $250,000 in non-economic damages. This limit was set in 1975, and has not adjusted with inflation. As a result, MICRA gives today’s victims of medical malpractice much less protection than it did nearly 40 years ago.
What can I recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit?
Following an injury, a patient who files a medical malpractice claim against a doctor can pursue:
- compensation for medical costs incurred as a result of the malpractice;
- compensation for economic damages, such as lost wages;
- caps on attorneys’ fees after a patient’s settlement; and
- possibility of punitive damages meant to punish a physician for gross misconduct and negligence.
California’s Statute of Limitations for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
A medical malpractice action for injury or death must be brought within one year from the date the claimant discovered the negligent act, but no more than three years from the date of injury. For retained foreign body cases, the statute is tolled until the claimant discovers or should have discovered the injury.
Actions by or on behalf of minors must be brought within three years from the date of the negligent act, unless the child is under the age of six, in which case the action must be commenced within three years or prior to the child’s eighth birthday, whichever provides the longer time period.
Could you have a case? Contact us for a FREE legal review.
California’s medical malpractice law can be complicated, and can actively limit a patient’s ability to fully recover from a serious injury caused by a physician. A medical malpractice attorney can guide you through filing a claim against a healthcare provider, and help ensure that you receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled.
At Hiden, Rott & Oertle, LLP, we fight for patients injured by their healthcare providers. Our attorneys can review your medical case and the actions taken by all healthcare professionals who treated you in order to determine your chances of recovering fair compensation. Call 619-296-5884 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation in our San Diego office.