What law governs medical malpractice claims?
Medical malpractice – like much of personal injury – is governed by the statutes and principles of state law. Thus, California law provides the governing framework for the majority of medical malpractice matters involving California residents. Another state’s law might apply in limited situations such as where the patient traveled to another state for treatment.
What can I recover in a California medical malpractice lawsuit?
If you have been injured by an act of medical malpractice in California, you are eligible to recover: 1) the cost of your medical bills relating to the injuries caused by the medical malpractice; 2) any lost income you have suffered as a result of your injuries; and 3) non-economic damages for your pain and suffering up to a total of $250,000.
How are lost income damages calculated?
Essentially, injured plaintiffs in medical malpractice claims can recover the difference between the income that they would have earned and the income they can earn now. Thus, if a person was making $150,000 a year, and was projected to earn that same salary for the next twenty years prior to retirement (for a total of $3,000,000 over 20 years), but can only earn $30,000 a year on average post-injury over that same period (for a total $600,000 over 20 years), then that person could claim lost income damages of $2,400,000.
I’ve heard about pain and suffering medical malpractice claims that are much higher than $250,000. Why is that?
Those likely occurred in other states. Thank California lawmakers for that. Over 40 years ago, the California legislature passed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) which was intended to lower healthcare costs by, among other things, limiting non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims to $250,000. The lawmakers failed to adjust that number for inflation and so it has stayed the same since 1975, making California one of the most defendant-friendly states in the nation for medical malpractice claims.
How do I know if I have a valid California medical malpractice claim?
The standard for winning a medical malpractice claim in California is that the plaintiff (through his or her attorney) must show that a medical professional failed to fulfill his or her duty to use the “skill, prudence, and diligence as other members of the profession commonly possess and exercise.” Essentially, this means the plaintiff must show the medical professional failed to exercise the commonly held skills of an ordinary medical professional in their same position. The plaintiff must then show that the medical professional’s failure to fulfill that duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries and losses for which the plaintiff is now seeking recovery.
This is sometimes (but not always) a difficult factual showing to make, requiring the collection of physical, medical, and testimonial evidence, as well the use of experts in the field. By speaking with an attorney, you can determine an initial likelihood of success in bringing a medical malpractice case.
How long do I have to bring a medical malpractice claim?
In California, you have one year from the date of the discovery of your injuries from an act of medical malpractice – or one year from the date you should have discovered your injuries with reasonable diligence, whichever is sooner – to bring your claim.
Contact a Southern California Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you believe that you or loved one has suffered injury, worsening of a condition, or death due to medical malpractice, contact a medical malpractice attorney at Johnson Moore in Thousand Oaks, California today to discuss your circumstances and what our medical malpractice legal team may be able to do to help you win justice financial and recovery in your case.