That is what it takes to wrap your head around medical malpractice law. From confusing statutes to highly technical medical terms, understanding medical negligence can be difficult to do. Throw in the reputation that healthcare providers have for not making mistakes, and the incentive to file a civil lawsuit loses its financial appeal.
Before you dive deep into California medical malpractice law, you should take the baby steps required to develop a fundamental knowledge of state statutes.
How California Defines Medical Malpractice
It would seem like every state should follow the same definition of medical negligence. However, some states have defined medical malpractice a bit differently than the norm. California takes the straight and narrow approach by defining medical malpractice as an act a healthcare provider commits that does not follow the standard care for a specific medical procedure.
Let’s say we have a patient who needs blood to recover from a workplace accident. The healthcare provider sent tainted blood into the patient’s bloodstream, which caused the patient to fall severely ill. Because the healthcare provider did not follow the guidelines for delivering standard care, the healthcare provider committed an act of medical negligence.
Most Common Types of Medical Negligence
Virtually any type of faulty diagnostic test, improperly recommended treatment program, and poorly executed rehabilitation regimen can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Nonetheless, there are several types of medical negligence that happen more often than other types of medical negligence.
- Misread results of lab work
- Failure to recognize symptoms
- Surgical Errors
- Wrong diagnosis
- Prescribe wrong drugs
- Over prescribe drugs
- Lack of a diagnosis
- Too early of a discharge
- Ran improper tests
- Poor follow up on medical care
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in California
California law allows victims of medical negligence to file civil lawsuits that seek damages. The key to winning damages in a civil case is to present convincing evidence, with medical documents playing a huge role in negligence cases. Although California has placed a limit on non-economic damages, this does not mean a California attorney will not agree to litigate a medical malpractice case.
Limit for Non-Economic Damages
California places a limit on non-economic damages for medical malpractice cases at $250,000. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, which is difficult to calculate an accurate value. To prevent juries from awarding exorbitant amounts of money, California has imposed a cap on non-economic damages. Economic damages, which have no limit, include lost wages and medical bills.
Statute of Limitations
California law established a deadline for victims of medical negligence to file a civil lawsuit. If your attorney recommends filing a lawsuit against a healthcare provider, it has to be done within one year after you discover the injury or should have discovered the injury. For example, an improper incision on the body can trigger pain and leave lasting scars that a patient should notice immediately after the medical procedure.
Do not wait until the last minute to file a civil lawsuit for medical malpractice. As more time passes, the less reliable witnesses become.
Healthcare Providers that Face the Most Civil Lawsuits
Although any healthcare professional can commit an act or acts of medical negligence, the following healthcare providers face the most civil lawsuits for medical malpractice.
- Research laboratories
- Family doctors
- Physical therapists
Understanding If You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim
The many legal gray areas of medical negligence make it difficult for victims to determine whether they have a strong enough case to file a claim. California has established legal precedent by referring to the four Ds of determining medical malpractice.
- Duty of care
- Dereliction of duty
- Direct Cause
Duty of care describes the standard of care that healthcare providers must deliver for their patients. Standard of care varies among the different types of illnesses and injuries. Dereliction of duty refers to the failure to follow the correct medical procedure. Failure to follow the correct medical procedure can directly cause one or more injuries. If the injuries produced economic and/or non-economic damages, then a victim has checked off the last D on the medical malpractice claim list.
Consult with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Understanding the basics of California medical malpractice law is much easier to do when you consult with an experienced attorney who handles medical negligence cases. During the free case evaluation, your attorney will walk you through the entire legal process, which includes filing a civil lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires.