In California, medical negligence claims are regulated by law. Non-economic damages (money awarded for pain and suffering) are "capped" at $250,000.00 regardless of the nature or type of injury a medical malpractice victim may have suffered. Attorney's fees are also regulated. These regulations were enacted by the legislature in 1975 and remain in effect. No "cost of living" provision was included in the statutes to adjust the damages "cap" for inflation. There is no cap on economic damages to the extent they are proved.
Medical negligence claims are extremely complex cases and differ from non-medical claims in other fundamental ways as well.
The Statute of Limitations applicable to a medical negligence claim is found in California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.5. That section states that the time for the commencement of an action shall be three years after the date of the injury or one year after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence, should have discovered the injury, whichever first occurs.
The statute provides a different limitations period for minors. Actions by a minor shall be commenced within three years from the date of the alleged wrongful act except that actions by a minor under the full age of six years shall be commenced within three years or prior to his eighth birthday whichever provides a longer period.
If the allegedly negligent health care provider is a public entity or public employee then all provisions of the California Government Code dealing with the presentation of claims must be adhered to and coordinated with the limitations periods otherwise applicable.
Medical claims are extremely expensive to investigate and prosecute. A medical negligence claim generally requires a medical expert witness who will review all facets of the claim and testify that the medical standard of care was breached. There must be a relationship between that breach (the negligent conduct) and the injury and damages claimed.
The consent of the insured physician or health care practitioner must be obtained before a medical liability insurance company can settle a claim.
Please contact me if you would like to discuss your potential medical malpractice claim.