Orange County Medical Malpractice Claims Explained
When a healthcare provider's negligence causes a patient harm, the victim can bring a California medical malpractice claim. All professional healthcare providers have a duty to carry out their job with reasonable prudence. Special rules govern medical malpractice claims, so if you or a loved one needs to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is imperative to hire a lawyer who is experienced with these types of cases.
How Liability Is Determined
Liability exists when a healthcare provider breaches the professional standard of care, and because of that breach, the victim was harmed. In California, the standard of care has been defined as "a reasonable degree of knowledge and skill which is ordinarily possessed and exercised by other members of his profession in similar circumstances." For physicians, the standard of care covers both diagnosis and treatment.
Whether malpractice occurred is a legal question, but the answer usually depends heavily on expert testimony from other healthcare professionals. Winning a malpractice claim requires knowing the legal burden and preparing the necessary evidence. It is usually important to hire a qualified expert witness and ask that expert the right questions.
Rarely is no expert testimony needed; however, in Ales v. Ryan, 8 Cal.2d 82, 93 (1939), the court held that sewing up a surgery patient with a cleaning sponge still inside of her was so obviously negligent that no expert testimony was necessary. It is crucial for medical malpractice victims to consult an attorney to determine whether and how much expert medical testimony will be required to prove their case.
California's Statute of Limitations
Under the California Statute of Limitations, medical malpractice claims must be brought within three years, or within one year of discovering the malpractice, whichever comes first. Any claim not brought within this time frame is barred.
Medical malpractice claims take time to investigate and prepare, so those who believe they have a medical malpractice claim should contact an attorney right away to begin working on their case.
There are three main categories of damages that medical malpractice victims can be awarded in California: Compensatory damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
- There is no cap on compensatory damages, which seek to compensate victims for their additional medical costs and any lost wages associated with their harm.
- Non-economic damages, which compensate victims for their pain and suffering, are capped at $250,000.
- In cases in which harm was caused by the egregious negligence or recklessness of a healthcare provider, punitive damages could also be awarded. California places no cap on punitive damages.
Contact a California Medical Malpractice Attorney for More Information
At the Law Offices of Scott D. Hughes, we fight hard to get victims of medical malpractice the compensation they deserve. Scott knows how to use medical evidence and expert testimony to meet the legal burden in such cases. If you would like to discuss your potential claim, or if you would like to learn more about our attorneys, please call our office today at 714-423-6928 for a free consultation.
Scott D. Hughes is an Orange County Medical Malpractice Lawyer practicing throughout California.