Medical Malpractice Law in California

Medical malpractice law in California is written in order to protect people from injuries that are the cause of negligence or intent by a healthcare professional. Some examples of these medical malpractice situations may include: misdiagnoses of a particular medical condition, failure to diagnose a medical condition, failure to provide the needed treatment, or an unreasonable delay in the treatment of a medical condition.

Limits on Damages

Every state has limits on the amount of damages that may be awarded and medical malpractice law in California is no different. This state has a limit on the non-economic damages that may be awarded in a medical malpractice case which is $250,000.

California State Malpractice Laws at a Glance:


California State Tort Law
Statute of Limitations Three years from date of original injury or one year after injury is discovered. Exceptions may be made for cases of foreign objects, fraud, or concealment.
Damage Award Limits California has a limit for noneconomic damages of $250,000
Joint Defendant Liability Proportionate liability for defendants where noneconomic damages are concerned.  Joint and several liability for other damages.
Expert Witness The expert witness must have the appropriate knowledge and training that is pertinent to the specifics of the case.
Attorney Fees Limit on attorneys fees is on a sliding scale based on awarded damages.

Rules for Expert Witnesses

There are certain times in a medical malpractice case that will require an expert in the field of healthcare to be a witness in the case. These experts must testify whether or not in their professional opinion that the health care professional either did or did not act according to medical standards.

Statute of Limitations

Medical malpractice law in California holds a certain window of time in which you may file a lawsuit for medical malpractice. This period is 3 years from the date of the injury, or 1 year from the date in which the patient should have realized that the injury had occurred. If the case involves a foreign object that is located in the plaintiff's body, then the time limit begins on the date in which the object was found or should have been found. The law is also a bit different for minors who are below the age of 6. In these cases, the time limit is 3 years from the date of the injury or before the minor's 8th birthday, whichever occurs sooner.

Finding the Right Lawyer 

Medical malpractice law in California is a very technical and detailed form of law, so employing a lawyer is basically obligatory. It is also important that you pick a specialist in the area of medical malpractice. After all, a lawyer that is not experienced in the area will no doubt make mistakes and miss important details and opportunities. These types of lawsuits can be very expensive, up to $100,000 or more in fees and court costs, so make sure that if you spend this money that you are going to win. The right lawyer can advise you on whether or not your case is winnable.

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